How to Train Your Small Dog to Stay Off the Pool Cover

Hard
1-3 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Little dogs may be cute, but they are also very good at getting themselves into trouble. Especially if they haven't learned basic obedience training. If you have a cute little dog who runs the backyard, and a pool you like to keep covered when not in use, it could be a recipe for a dangerous disaster. Training your small dog to stay off the pool cover will be essential to making sure he stays safe and your pool cover stays intact.

Small dogs are known for being unruly and untrained, but this may be more of a reflection of owners being able to pick them up than their ability to learn. Many small dogs enjoy the structure and mental work training provides, and teaching them basic obedience isn't just good for their safety, it will make them better companions. Training your small dog to stay off the pool cover should be part of a balanced obedience training plan.

Defining Tasks

Small dogs can learn just as many tricks as their bigger counterparts, but you have to adjust your training to their size. Don't raise your voice or shout, because you could intimidate or scare them into thinking training is not fun. It's also advisable to come down to their level so you aren't towering over them.

Before you can train your small dog to stay off the pool cover, you need to make sure he already knows basic obedience including 'come', 'sit', and 'stay'. Work through these commands first and take your time. You want training to be fun. Never train him for more than 15 minutes at a time, and always reward him for hard work and good behavior. 

Getting Started

Once he knows basic commands, you can start teaching your little guy to stay off the pool cover. There will be a few useful items and tools to have on hand while training. These are as follows:

  • Delicious treats
  • A leash
  • A pool cover or cover material that looks like your pool cover
  • A ball or toy

Below are three methods for training your small dog to stay off the pool cover. Read through them and try one or all. With some discipline, you'll be able to let him out without worrying what he's up to. Well, at least you won't have to worry about the pool!

The Leash Method

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Step
1
Walk on a loose leash
Make sure you and your dog have walking on a loose leash down. Practice until he's always paying attention to you.
Step
2
Get a decoy pool cover
Find a piece of pool cover or a spare cover that resembles yours and put it in the backyard.
Step
3
Walk around the cover
Walk around the pool cover on a loose leash.
Step
4
Walk up to the pool cover
Walk up to the pool cover. If he stops, say "yes" and give him a treat. If he steps on the cover say "no" and walk away.
Step
5
Keep practicing
Keep practicing, and each time he stops and doesn't walk on the pool cover, tell him "yes" and give him a treat. When he does step on it tell him "no" and walk away.
Step
6
Unclip the leash
When he is not stepping on the cover, unclip his leash and walk around. If he stops and doesn't step on the cover say "yes" and give him a treat. If he does start to walk on it, say "no" and start to walk away. He should follow you. When he does give him a treat.
Step
7
Try it with the real thing
When he is avoiding the pool cover on the ground, let him out with the real pool cover over your pool. You can practice, and when he stops and doesn't step on the cover, keep giving him treats. Soon he should avoid it completely.
Recommend training method?

The Ball Method

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Step
1
Choose a ball
Find a special ball that your dog really likes and is tuned into.
Step
2
Set up your space
Set up a test pool cover that is similar in material to your cover and lay it in the backyard.
Step
3
Walk to the test cover
With the ball in your pocket, walk up to the pool cover with your dog.
Step
4
Toss the ball
When he begins to touch the pool cover say "off" and toss the ball away from the pool cover for him to chase.
Step
5
Keep practicing
Keep practicing, taking the ball back each time and tossing it right before he steps on the cover.
Step
6
Test his skill
When he begins to anticipate the ball throw, he should be less likely to step on the pool cover. Begin to test him by walking around the pool cover without throwing the ball. When you get all the way around without touching it, throw the ball as a reward.
Step
7
Test the original cover
When he's walking around the demo pool cover without touching it, move to the real thing. Walk him around the original pool cover and apply the same tactics.
Step
8
Peace of mind
After a few weeks of training, you should be able to let your little dog outside without having to worry about him or the pool cover. If he starts to step on the cover, go back a few steps and keep working at it.
Recommend training method?

The Standing Method

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Step
1
Practice 'sit' and 'stay'
First, make sure your dog is well versed in 'sit' and 'stay'.
Step
2
Set up your training area
Set up the backyard with a copy of your pool cover to practice with.
Step
3
Walk to the cover
With your dog on a leash, walk up to the cover and ask him to sit and stay.
Step
4
Step on the cover
Step on the pool cover, but don't let your dog follow. Walk back and give him a treat for staying off.
Step
5
Practice
Practice having him sit and stay, while you walk farther away on the pool cover. If he steps on the cover to follow, tell him "no" and don't give him a treat.
Step
6
Test it out
After several weeks of practicing to not step on the pool cover, take away the training cover, and see how he does with the real thing.
Step
7
Practice until he has it down
When he avoids the real pool cover, give him a treat. If he steps on the real pool cover, tell him "no." Don't be afraid to go back to the test cover if he needs extra time.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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