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How to Choose a Pet-Friendly Pool

How to Choose a Pet-Friendly Pool

Pool Design Guides  |  Swimming Pool FAQs  |  Swimming Pool Design

A lot of people with medium-sized pets like to let them play in the pool. Have a dog? Sheep? Llama? Small horse? They might be interested!

Lucas (Olulu) the black cat

Fun fact: Some cats are into water too. My cat Lucas, nicknamed Olulu, likes to play in his water dish so much that he earned the second nickname Shamu-lulu. 

If I had a pool, I imagine he would enjoy splashing his giant paws in the water. Maybe then he wouldn’t feel the need to create small lakes in the laundry room every morning.

Still, for the time being, let’s assume your preferred pool-sharing pet is a dog.

Dogs need two important things from a pool:

  • They need a shallow area to stand up in.
  • They need to know where to get in and out.


Shallow area

Pets love shallow water where they can stand up. They can hang out there, and they can swim out into the deeper water and back if they feel like it.

Unless your pet is a Great Dane or a bear, a regular shallow end is too deep for an animal to stand in.

Pools with a tanning ledge/shelf are perfect for dogs. This pool feature (also called a tanning shelf or Baja ledge) is an integrated part of the pool that holds 8–12 inches of water.

Yellow dog sitting in a pool

How to get in and out

Don’t force your darling Daisy to jump into the water.

To be pet-friendly (and pet-safe, really), your pool should have steps going into the water, not a ladder, at least in the shallow end/tanning ledge.

The steps should be wide enough for your pet to walk on. Cutesy little cake steps probably aren’t the way to go if you have a German shepherd or Newfoundland.


Black dog climbing out of a pool


Also, be aware that some dogs have difficulty finding the steps at first.

For example, my coworker Jason’s two dogs initially couldn’t tell where the steps in his pool were. Once they learned where the steps were, then they knew how to get in and out.

You may want to help your dog down the steps until she figures them out.

The most pet-friendly pool types

A lot of pet owners buy pools with their pets in mind. So which kinds of pools are best for our animal friends?

Fiberglass pools are awesome for pets. Dog claws won’t tear or puncture the strong, durable gelcoat. It also won't hurt the dog's joints.

German shepherd standing on the tanning ledge of a fiberglass pool during installation

Concrete pools are an okay option. The interior finish—plaster, aggregate, or tile—holds up well. However, the surface can be too harsh on joints and claws

Unfortunately, vinyl liner pools aren’t great for pets. Most liners are 20–30 mils thick, which is less than a millimeter. It’s all too easy for dog claws to carve through that.

Fiberglass pool designs with a tanning ledge

At River Pools, we’re fans of tanning ledges, so we’ve integrated them into several of our models.

If you’re interested in an inground pool with a tanning ledge, you might want to consider checking out these fiberglass pool designs.


D Series

The D Series models have a big tanning ledge in the shallow end.

River Pools pool design specs for D32

Your dog probably can’t use the two-person seats in the deep end—although who knows? Maybe he’s skilled.

Regardless, they’re available for you if you want to chill out there with your pet (or just avoid the people in the shallow end).

C Series

The C Series pools' tanning ledge has a neat swoop-y design.

River Pools pool design specs for C40

For the humans in the group, a deep-end bench seat curves around the other end of the pool.


L Series

The L36 pool has a giant tanning shelf, open swim space for you and Mr. Fluffers, and another big bench seat in the deep end.
River Pools pool design specs for L36

I Series

The I Series comes in 2 sizes and features both a tanning ledge and deep-end bench seating. The I25s also has an integrated spa. 

Fiberglass pool with tanning ledge, bench, and spa


River Pools manufactures and installs fiberglass pools in Virginia and Maryland. We also operate in other areas of the country through our dealers. Click the button below to contact us and request pricing today.  




If you think a fiberglass pool might be the right choice for you, we’re here to answer any questions you have!

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