Last year was the first time I took Lucy to Labor Day Dog Swim at a public pool. I didn’t know what to expect and over-prepared, as usual. When we got there I discovered that it’s the very best day of the entire year! It’s basically like a magical paradise with tons of cool dogs and their people hanging out in a giant pool. Sign us up!

Since we had so much fun, I found a couple more dog swims happening in the few days after labor day. Based on these experiences I put together some do’s and don’ts of the coveted Labor Day dog swim. Before you grab your towels and dive in this Monday, make sure you read through our tips.

What is Labor Day Dog Swim?

Labor Day is generally the last day that public pools are open for swimming. Somewhere, someone created the tradition of letting dogs swim in the pool after the people were done and before then close everything up for the season.

Dos and Don'ts of Labor Day Dog Swim

Now, Labor Day Dog Swim is a tradition that goes on at public and private pools all over the country. Each pool may have its own rules, guidelines and hours for dogs swim. But in general, I’ve found that they require all dogs to be vaccinated (of course!) and friendly and might charge a small fee to allow your dogs to swim for an hour or two.

Dos and Don'ts of Labor Day Dog Swim

What We Learned At Our First Labor Day Dog Swim

I came to our first Labor Day swim over-prepared! I printed out Lucy’s vaccination records, brought towels, water, toys, and of course my camera.

Before I went it wasn’t clear if dogs would be allowed off-leash, but as soon as we entered the gates it was obvious that there weren’t any leash police at the pool. Lots of dogs were off-leash and loving life. Some people kept their dogs on leash so they didn’t go too far, or to give them a rest in the shade. Overall, everyone did what was best for their dog and everyone got along great!

Dos and Don'ts of Labor Day Dog Swim

Dog Swim is only open for a couple of hours, so I went right when it opened to maximize our time. I discovered that there’s a big rush of people and dogs at the beginning, but then it thins out about halfway through. Based on this, I think we’ll show up halfway through the timeslot next time.

Although there weren’t any problems in the pool, it might be more fun when it’s a little less crowded and there’s room to roam around.

Regular Pool Vs. Wave Pool

Last year we went to dog swims at a wave pool and a regular pool. The wave pool is definitely the better choice! In a regular pool, the dogs can only get in and out with the stairs in one spot. That caused some stress for me and panic for Lucy. With a wave pool, everyone can walk in and out without any pressure. Plus, there are tons of shallow areas where it’s only ankle deep.

In case you’re wondering… no, they don’t turn on the waves! If you don’t have a wave pool in your area, I recommend picking up a doggy life jacket to take some of the stress out of looking for steps in the regular pool

Do’s and Don’ts of Labor Day Dog Swim

DO:

  • Wear a swimsuit so you can go in, too!
  • Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccines
  • Rinse off your dog after the pool to get the chlorine out, check out this “portable shower” 
  • Bring fresh water for your dog to drink, I like water bottles like this and this
  • Bring a microfiber towel to dry them off
  • Make sure your dog has an ID tag with your phone number listed

DON’T:

  • Force your dog in the water if they’re uncomfortable
  • Bring your own toys
  • Don’t bring food
  • Don’t pee or poo in the pool

Dos and Don'ts of Labor Day Dog Swim

Find a Labor Day Dog Swim Near You

If you’re looking for a pool to take your dog to this Monday, ask around and check websites of your local parks or pools. I found doggy dip days in Columbus, OH; splash days near New York City; puppy pool parties in Texaspooches in the pool in Los Angeles; and this comprehensive list from 2018 that could give you some ideas for this year!

In the Pittsburgh area, you can find these listed on the Allegheny County Parks Facebook page. I also included the dog swim in my list of Dog-Friendly Pittsburgh Events where you can find tons of fun things to do with your dog.

Like this post? Check out these, too:

Dog Friendly Pittsburgh Event Guide
Doggy Day Trip to Cleveland
How to Hand Wash Your Dog Collar
Super Healthy Goat Milk Pupsicles
How to Prepare to Take Your Dog to an Event

dos and donts of labor day dog swim

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