Swim Therapy

Mac & Sage Hanging out at the Pool

Swim Therapy is a very useful tool to help dogs overcome physical problems such as hip dysplasia, arthritis, surgery for such things as knee replacement, TPLO (trademarked surgery), hip replacement etc. I am not acting as a veterinarian in these cases, merely a physical therapist for the dog’s best and quickest recovery. I work only with veterinary approval. Please check with your veterinarian and the internet for more information about the physical therapy benefits to swim therapy.

However, the reason that I started exploring the uses of swim therapy is because I noticed the dogs that completed the physical therapy became more confident and self-assured. While I have experienced that all dogs benefit from applied swim therapy, I am especially pleased to see those dogs that are timid, shy, and fearful or fear aggressive to other dogs, show remarkable improvement in their behaviors. (Please note that aggression with people is another matter and needs discussion on an individual basis with me.)

During a swim therapy session dogs learn to trust me as I guide them through the water and the therapy. I concentrate on building their confidence so they do not have to resort to the old fear patterns when they are unsure. The relaxation of the therapy in water encourages the mind of the dog to adjust to the new sensations quickly which builds even more confidence. I have taught many dogs that were fearful of just getting into a pool how to enter with confidence after only three days.

Razz, Mac & Sage Chillin in the Desert

Swim therapy is always done in three sessions on three consecutive days. The dog is learning new patterns of behavior along with the dog’s body, muscles and nerves. It takes three days to “re-pattern” the brain and let go of old habits. In cases of hip dysplasia, it may be a good idea to “tune-up” your dog every other month. (I work under your dog’s veterinary supervision in the case of a dog’s rehabilitation or surgery.)

Private Sessions are available in your home if your swimming pool maintains a minimum temperature of 89 degrees F. or above. If your pool is not at least at that temperature (or above) or if you do not have access to a pool, you may need to wait for a clinic sponsored by a pool owner. If you are a pool owner, interested in sponsoring a clinic please contact me directly. All clinics are a minimum of four dogs (not necessarily counting the pool owner’s dogs).

Please check the Services page for price information. Ask me for a custom quote on working extra dogs in the household.

For information on when the next clinic is being held call me at 602-861-9256. Short video clips of Dog Swim Therapy with strengthening exercises, massage and T (Tellington) touch therapy :

Strengthening exercises for rear legs and tail on a Lab with early onset degenerative myelopathy. Includes water massage and T-touch.

Pool massage for dogs:

Here are some comments from satisfied clients;

Tyler boating at Lake Powell

Hi Leslie!
Just wanted to say a “huge thanks,” Tala loves the pool. She is going in on her own to catch the ball, swims to the opposite end, gets out and waits for me to throw the ball again. She’s getting great exercise! I’ve enclosed a photo I took while you were working with Tala – thought you might enjoy. I’ve also included a picture of Theo – he prefers to use the pool strictly for sunbathing!


Dear Leslie,
I’m sure swim therapy extended the length and quality of Lexi’s and BoBo’s lives. Their veterinarian was always so pleased with their trimmer figures! Penny also had difficulty with her hips all her life but swim therapy enabled her to walk and move with significantly more comfort. And they all loved it!


Hi Leslie-

Guess what happened this morning?!  I was outside sweeping the pool and Cowboy climbed up on the  rock feature to look at the horses next door. The next thing I know is that I hear him sliding down the slide and PLOP into the pool!  I wasn’t near the steps but he headed toward them with only a brief hesitation half way.  He missed the top step and began to leave the steps but turned himself around back to the steps a time or two.  He got himself on the 2nd step with paws up on the cool deck.  He didn’t want to budge when I encouraged him to the top step.  I probably rescued him too quickly when I put his front paws on the top step, but I wanted him to know he’d been successful.

What a surprise and validation for our swimming lessons and practice!  He didn’t seem too shook up.  He was quite feisty after that, chasing Kitty around the back yard!

Have a Merry Christmas and I’ll see you in the near year.  I’ve been wanting all Fall to get to one of your Tuesday night classes!  I believe I have two left.  I’ll bring your life vest and toy which have been safely tucked away for you.  I bought Cowboy his own for the summer.

Alison C.

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