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Frequently asked questions

Where are you located?

 

549 West International Airport Rd, Unit B9 is located in the InterPlaza Mall, which is a strip mall located on the north side of International Airport Rd., between C St. & Arctic. We are in the industrial corridor of warehouses in the middle of the strip center, in the same building as Guido’s Pizza, at the very end of the building in the back. We are BACK DOOR neighbors to Guido’s.

Why does my dog need an orientation? He’s been swimming in the lakes for years!

 

Orientation swims are not just to teach dogs to swim. Even proficient swimmers must pass an orientation before they can swim with us. Our main goal during an orientation is to teach the dog to exit the pool via the ramp. Our pool is an above ground pool with a deck. If dogs exited the pool by climbing up the sides, their nails would poke holes in our vinyl liner and we very quickly would no longer have a pool!

Do I just show up to swim? Are there other dogs there?

 

We STRONGLY encourage you to call us to make an appointment rather than just coming in to see us. All of our swims and baths are by appointment only. You must call us first to get an appointment. We are frequently working with dogs and our “staging area” is our lobby - right inside our front door. All appointments are private and no other dogs will be in your area during your appointment time, although there will probably be other dogs in other areas of the facility.

Swimming is my dog’s favorite thing in the entire world. He could swim all day if I let him. Can I book a double or triple appointment so that he can swim to his heart’s content?

 

Unfortunately, no. Swimming is a full body sport. Poop accidents happen exponentially more often after 35-45 minutes of swimming. We have to close the pool for a minimum of half an hour after every poop in the pool. It messes up our schedule for the rest of the day and deprives other dogs of their swim time. You can book more than once a day, just not concurrent appointments for the same dog. In order to prevent poop accidents and nausea, we strongly recommend that you not feed your dog within 4 hours of your appointment.

What does an orientation look like?

 

Each dog is unique, so we try to tailor our orientations to the dog, but in general, we ask that you bring your dog in 15 minutes before your appointment so that we can meet your dog, fit him for a lifejacket that we provide, and get him used to us and the facility. Your time consists of 30 minutes in the pool and 30 minutes maximum in the bath/drying area. Before we start your swim, we play with your dog upstairs on the deck and try to get him excited in a toy or two. If he is toy/prey driven, we play up and down the ramp until we get him so excited that he’ll launch himself into the water in order to get that toy! If your dog lacks a strong toy/prey drive, we entice him down the ramp with treats. In general, dogs with a strong toy drive end up loving swimming, but just like people, each dog is different. We have clients who have no interest in toys unless they are swimming! If your dog is particularly afraid of the water and has no interest in launching, we can, with your permission, launch the dog ourselves. Losing their footing and floating can be very upsetting so we try to go at the dog’s pace, but you, the owner, are always in charge. We assess the dog’s ability to recover emotionally from the strange things we ask of him. We never want to traumatize a dog. Swimming should be a fun activity, not a traumatic one!

My dog didn’t pass his orientation. What now?

 

We will give you a verbal assessment of your dog’s progress at the end of your orientation to let you know what your next swim will look like. Some of our most enthusiastic swimmers took a few sessions to “get it.” The record is held by the dog of the previous owner, Martina, whose dog took 16 sessions to learn to love swimming! If your dog doesn’t “pass,” your next swim will be an assisted swim with one or more attendants in the water to help guide your dog. Most, although not all, assisted swims are to help the dog launch. Other common problems are dogs who are intent on leaving the pool by going up the side. In those cases, we attach a long line (about 4 feet) to the jacket or collar so that we can redirect the dog to the ramp. Another common problem, especially with older dogs who swim to help them stay limber, is keeping the dog low on the ramp to keep them from straining themselves by needlessly exiting the pool to shake off the water. The closer the dog stays to their launch level, the more buoyant they are and thus accomplishing non-load bearing exercise.

Can I swim more than one dog at a time?

 

Absolutely! While your swim time is YOUR dedicated time, you are welcome to bring your other dogs or swim with a friend, (after all dogs have passed their orientations). Our stated policy is a limit of three dogs. Please consult us if you want an exception, and if we think more dogs can swim safely and still have fun, we might make an exception.

My dog is well trained and obedient. Why do you insist on them being leashed when entering and exiting your facility?

 

First, it’s the law. “Municipal ordinance (Title 17) requires that a person who owns a domestic animal, shall control it at all times. In a public place, with some exceptions, the municipal ordinance requires that an owner shall have his/her animal under control and shall not allow it to roam neighborhoods or have access to other people's property. The code doesn't allow for off-leash dog walking, skiing, or biking unless the pet is in a designated off-leash dog park space.” Our parking lot is not a designated off leash area. (https://www.muni.org/Departments/health/Admin/animal_control/pages/leash.aspx)

 

Second, it’s a liability issue. Your dog might be the most well trained dog in the history of dogs, but the next dog might not be. Leashed dogs are much easier to control in an emergency situation than unleashed. In addition to our swim clients, we operate a dog wash. Although all of our activities are by appointment only, we DO still have walk-in business, and dogs who are surprised by other dogs or humans might not react well. Your dog(s) MUST BE leashed to enter the facility and at all times except when on the deck or in the bath area.

One of my dogs ADORES swimming. My other dog hates it, but has separation anxiety. Can I bring my nervous dog too?

 

Yes, absolutely! We call these “field trip” dogs. Swimming should be fun for the whole family! As long as your field tripper doesn’t tear up toys or the deck, or harass people at the fencing he is welcome to come and enjoy special play time with his family! We do not charge for field trips. Baths, however, are limited to the swimmer. You can schedule a bath for your non-swimming dog by alerting the attendant when you make your appointment that you will be bathing a second dog. The current price for a bath is $30 and includes one (1) single use shampoo and two (2) towels. Swimmers are expected to provide their own towels and shampoo. You can buy shampoo for $4 and our towels rent for $1 per towel if you forget supplies for your swimmer.

My dog loves to swim, but each individual swim is so expensive! Do you offer military or other discounts?

 

We do not offer military discounts at this time, but you can offset the cost of your swims by either buying a four swim punchcard, or by swimming with a buddy, or both! A single dog punchcard is good for 4 swims and has a 6 month expiration. A punchcard will save you $5 each swim.

How does a punchcard work?

 

We normally sell punchcards in groups of 4 swims. You save $5 per swim, per dog, for each swim on a punchcard. Punchcards are good for 6 months and can be put on hold. If you experience a life event that prevents you from completing your swims in a timely manner, just let us know. If you buy a punchcard for assisted swims and your dog ends up not needing assistance, we will credit back the assistance fee towards your next punchcard. If you have multiple dogs, we can convert your card to a monetary card only, and you will be charged according to how many dogs you swim at any given appointment. You can also add shampoo and towels to your punchcard so that you don’t have to bother with remembering to bring all of your supplies, or deal with wet towels, especially when it’s 7 degrees outside! Additionally, if you swim with a friend, you can split the cost of a punchcard. We keep the punchcard so that you do not have to keep up with it.

Do you restrict which breeds can swim at your facility?

 

No, we do not. All breeds are welcome. But keep in mind the pool is only 4ft deep. If your dog is over 4ft when they stand on their back legs, we might have to discuss what to look out for when they swim! Your dog will not be turned away unless his individual personality and behavior make him unsuited to our business. Unless you swim with a friend, your time is exclusively yours. Other dogs will be in the building, but your time in the pool is just you and your dog. We do our utmost to guard against unwanted dog interactions and provide a safe facility for your human and animal family. Please let us know if your dog is known to be reactive/aggressive so that we can make reasonable accommodations to keep everyone safe. Your dog(s) MUST BE leashed to enter the facility and at all times except when on the deck or in the bath area.

Can I swim with my dog?

 

Unfortunately, no. Pools for humans must have lifeguards and safety and health inspections far more stringent than those governing animal recreation. Only our employees are legally allowed in the pool. However, you CAN be anywhere on our ramp leading to the pool!

What safety and health precautions do you take? I don’t want my dog to get sick!

 

Every dog must have up to date vaccinations to enter our property. Our pool is a low chlorine pool, with the daily sanitation done by two sand filters and two UV filters. Each system is designed to work alone competently, so we always have a large margin of error should one system fail. At night, we add chlorine to the pool in an amount sufficient to further sanitize the pool, but small enough to dissipate by our first swim the next day. We also check the chlorine throughout the day and add chlorine as needed to maintain sanitation. In our bathing stations, we clean between each bather. We clean out the tubs and remove hair from the drains. We also clean and sanitize the drying stations between each bather. At night, we deep clean by using a kennel cleaning solution that is safe for dogs and is rated to kill Bordetella, E coli, Staph, Parvovirus, Distemper, and Canine influenza, among other pathogens. We cannot guarantee that your dog will never get sick here, but we do everything we know to do to keep your pet safe and healthy.

Do you offer aqua-therapy?

 

Yes, and no. We do not have an underwater treadmill, nor do we have a trained vet tech/physical therapist, although we do have a certified trainer with 10 years of experience. We can follow your veterinarian’s instructions for activity & rest periods and provide you with an invoice for your insurance carrier. We will refuse any therapy swims for dogs who cannot comply with the restrictions placed by the veterinarian. Specifically, dogs who are such enthusiastic swimmers that we cannot control their jumping or keeping them at buoyancy level to ensure non-loadbearing exercise.

I am disabled, but I would love for my animal companion to get more exercise than I can provide. Do you offer any options?

 

If you can get your dog to our facility, we will do our best to accommodate you. If you have mobility issues, we have a ramp leading to our pool deck, and our bathroom is ADA compliant. If your mobility is so restricted that you can get to the pool, but cannot bring your dog in yourself, we can provide an attendant for a small fee.

Do you have a groomer?

 

We do not employ a groomer. However, we do have a groomer’s room! It is supplied with a hydraulic table and a professional dryer. We encourage you to ask to use this room if you have very fluffy dogs or think you will exceed our wash and dry time of 30 minutes. The groomer’s room is free with the purchase of either a swim or a bath but you are still limited to 30 minutes. If you exceed this time in either the regular drying area or the groomer’s room, the space rents for $1 per minute.

You keep referring to your facility as “fun for the whole family.” Does that mean that I can bring my kids?

 

Of course! However, just like your dogs, they must be under your control at all times. They must understand that the pool is only for the dogs, not people. No running on the deck and indoor voices, please. We have many sizes of children’s life jackets available for their safety and protection. All children under 12 are required to wear a life jacket while on the deck, and non-slip shoes are strongly advised for all adults and children. We are not responsible for falls due to incorrect footwear.

Are there things I can do at home to enhance my dog’s chances of passing his orientation?

 

Yes there are! The single most telling factor in getting a dog to enjoy swimming is their toy\prey drive. A dog who loves to fetch will almost always love swimming. Find a floatable toy (not a ball) that the dog really loves. Make that toy special by bringing it out ONLY for special play time with you. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT THE DOG DOES NOT HAVE UNFETTERED ACCESS TO THIS TOY! You want to make this toy special. You want it to have great value to your dog. You want the dog to have an innate excitement whenever they see this toy. You want them to see the toy and think, “Oh boy! It’s special play time! We’re going to have fun!” Once that toy is special, bring it to your orientation session. Having his super special toy with him in this new place with these weird smells and strange people will help calm your dog and reassure him that you didn’t bring him someplace scary. You brought him someplace fun! It doesn’t really matter if your dog successfully brings back a toy. The important part is the desire to chase. That desire to chase, when properly harnessed, will excite the dog past the point of fear of losing their footing.

Why not have a ball as a super special toy?

 

For a brand new swimmer, picking up a ball in the water is like bobbing for apples. For play on land, dogs typically grab the toy by pressing the toy down into the ground. That technique won’t work in the water. To pick up a toy in the water, the dog typically has to scoop the toy into his mouth. A flat toy is optimal. We have lots and lots of toys available to spark your dog’s interest, and I sell many of these toys too! If your dog is ONLY interested in balls, (a common problem), we have a number of balls on ropes that give the dog multiple opportunities to successfully grab the toy, rather like having training wheels until learning to ride a bicycle! Also, every time a dog grabs for a toy in the water they ingest some water. The bigger the toy the more water they intake. If your dog is coughing on the way back in from a lap they could be getting water down their throat. When they ingest too much water or cough too hard, it can make them throw up. If that happens then we need to stop the fun time to get the mess cleaned up.

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