Saturday, March 6, 2010

Teaching a puppy to swim

Teaching a puppy to swim is always amusing. I just introduced a Portuguese water dog puppy to the water last week. He's a baby - just old enough to have all his shots.

Now, you have to remember, the only Porties I've ever seen at the pool have been either unwilling to swim or scared for some reason. And, of course, this little guy was no exception.

Day 1: Pretty scared of the water, just spent most of our time just hanging in the water, reassuring him that everything was ok, and tried swimming only twice.
The swimming was REALLY SPLASHY! He was trying to walk on the water instead of swim in it! :)

Fortunately, his mom is really interested in having him swim, so she brought him back the next day!

Day 2: Adjusting to me and the pool. He started jumping off my legs towards his mom... He's willing to brave the water to get there! The splashing is hilarious - and trying to get him to not splash is unsuccessful so far. He's so cute though - a little soaked mop when he gets to the stairs or I pick him up.

They're coming back next weekend!

Day 3:
He had mom and dad there today! He's literally grown 4 pounds since last week. I can't imagine that this is going to be very coordinated until his body stops sprouting - but we can keep trying! We tried a few new things like having mom on one end of the pool and dad on the other. He started understanding that he was supposed to swim to the stairs instead of the side of the pool!
Still a splash-o-rama! And, still trying to walk on water. He's really figuring it out though.

Puppies are so cute!

Day 4:

What a breakthrough! I don't know why we didn't think of it before, but we got some toys out today - and wow! What a difference. He started sticking his head into the water then pawing at the toys. The PlanetDog (TM) toys float but then sink if the dog touches them - so he was trying to get it and the ball kept on sinking. But, he's a persistent little guy!

Then, I carried him out to swim and threw the ball in front of him and HE GRABBED IT!

It was like a lightbulb turned on - THIS is what I'm supposed to do, I'm supposed to get the toy and bring it back! He's only 21 pounds and was carrying a full sized bumper back already...

Still splashy, but certainly not scared anymore.... Since he's still growing, his hind end still sinks a bit - so we have some floatation around his belly -- but I'm sure he'll grow into it soon...Can't wait to see him next week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Changes in our appointment & new dog systems

We've been trying to figure out a way to make it easier to book an appointment; and then what we can do for online purchasing of classes, and more.... So, Angie (our new admin) looked into a few different systems and combined with price and wanting a web-based system, we are going with "MindBody" Its a system that is used by yoga studios (even Ocean Yoga here in Pacifica uses it), spas, and gyms.

What I'm looking forward to is being able to let our clients find their own appointment times instead of having to go back and forth multiple times on email. Of course, we'll still be available to chat on email or talk to folks on the phone; but this will be an added convenience! This system will also allow our clients to have a login, store their credit card, buy memberships, classes, setup appointments, as well as send out reminder emails!

Google apps has done well for us, and we loved using the calendar to be able to 'magically' populate other people's blackberry's and work calendars, but doing the manual reminders and actually booking the appointments has remained cumbersome.

Other changes that we've made:

  • Followup Emails: We used to send these ("How's your dog doing?") after every swim however, it became rather repetitive for dogs that we saw every week, twice-a-week. Now, we're simply going to send them for our new dogs or when a dog improves/changes significantly.
  • Monthly Survey: We would like to send out a monthly survey to those who swam and may give you some suggested followup topics.
  • Credit Card Requests: In order to make an appointment with us, we are asking all clients to hold that appointment with a credit card.
  • Signup forms (new dog swims, classes, new massage dog): These will now be available online except for the waivers that still must be read and signed.

We're experimenting and trying new things. Wish us luck!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cathy Chen-Rennie, Head Swim Coach, contributes advice about arthritic older dog

Cathy contributed to an Expert Panel on a local blog site called

The reader’s question: We have an 11-year-old Queensland Cattle dog that has numerous issues. Right now, we would like to strengthen his hind legs which have arthritis. Can you help us?

Cathy's advice
There are many things you can do to help your dog with arthritis, some examples include making sure the dog is lean, exercising him on a regular basis, adding nutritional supplements and working with your vet on a pain management regimen. My training is within canine massage and I’ve worked with a number of dogs in a canine aquatic fitness setting - so I know from experience that swimming is a great non-impact exercise that works the joints gently. Water has the benefit of buoyancy so your dog can exercise while getting a bit of a break from gravity. We have observed many dogs using their hind legs for propulsion when swimming so we’ve seen that it helps with stretching the back leg muscles.

With a swim coach, your dogs can gain confidence in the water and perhaps work up to doing a few short length laps in the pool. A swim coach can also create resistance and drive by having them tread water or letting them swim against a current. I work with dogs in an indoor warm-water swimming pool and perform massages while in the water to help them feel comfortable. We use warm water because it promotes muscle relaxation and good circulation. If you would like to learn more about canine aquatic fitness, please feel free to contact me.

To read the rest of the article...InCirclePets Article "Experts Weigh In on Aging Dogs and Arthritis"