Pooch Plunge: Dog Waterparks & Pools in Southern Ontario

Public leash-free dog parks are becoming ubiquitous in urban planning. What about dog waterparks? True, dog parks are not for everyone and can be a hot bed of controversial dog-related issues.

But dog parks are now common in most municipalities (ironically, not mine). In fact, I plan my road trip stops based on availability of fenced-in areas to run my high energy spaniel.

Dog parks are almost everywhere. How soon then before we have water parks specifically for dogs?

Dog waterparks. Crazy idea, right? Well, so were leash-free dog parks not that long ago.

However, considering I’m still trying to advocate for a dog park in my own town, taking on the dog waterpark mission might solidify my reputation as crazy pet lady.

Dog Waterparks and Public Pools

Instead, I’m excited about a new trend: public pools and private water parks are going to the dogs. Or at least the day-after-the-last-day of the swimming season closing to people but opening for dogs to enjoy. Toronto opened public pools last weekend to dogs just for fun before closing for the season.

But most ‘doggie splash days’ or ‘pooch pool plunges’ are organized to benefit an animal rescue or shelter. What a great idea. The day before the water is drained and the pool or splash pad is cleaned, dogs get to have their day in the sun (hopefully). Pet rescues get to collect the admission fee, plus donations.

Oakville Humane Society Doggie Dip

First up: The Second Annual Doggie Dip benefiting the Milton and Oakville Humane Society at a Lions’ Club public pool in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. My pup had her first pool experience, and being a spaniel, I assumed she’d take to the water like the ducks she loves to chase.

However, I made a mistake. This particular doggie dip was a timed event, meaning it only offered half-hour time slots for only 20 dogs at a time. So, I immediately I figured we need to make our time count. When we stepped into the pool area and took off the leash, I immediately picked up one of the hundreds of tennis balls scattered around the dock …and threw it into the pool.

Naturally, my spaniel ran after the ball, leaping from the edge of the pool into the water. Immediately, she swam and I cheered her on gobsmacked. ‘She’s swimming!’ I thought … or maybe I shouted. ‘I’ve never seen her swim before.’

The only thing was, she didn’t have the ball in her mouth but was swimming toward the edge of the pool where she ran frantically tried to claw her way to dry land. She wasn’t swimming so much as panicking – the entire water experience took her by surprise. Of course, I lifted her out of the pool.

Then she was too afraid to try again. Later, she fell into the pool once more by accident – reaching for a ball – and again frantically swam to shore. Dammit Jim, she’s a Spaniel not a Lab. I’d made the mistake of making her first pool experience frightening.

Introducing your Dog to the Pool

She spent the rest of her time happily chasing balls along the dock. I managed to convince her to step into the water as far as the top step – which is how I should have started. Eventually, she made it briefly to the second step before jumping out of the water.

So much for my vision of her gleefully swimming laps. In fact, not many dogs did swim across the pool except for a few water-loving Labradors.

This pool pooch plunge was a markedly different experience than my dog’s water splash pad experience last year (see here). We’re heading back to the Kitchener splash pad next week. Running through the water she loves – swimming in water over her head, no so much.

Want to take your pup to a pool plunge? If you’re near Southern Ontario, Canada there’s still a number of Doggie Pool/splash pad experiences to take advantage of this year. If you’re not near Ontario, let us know in the comments below about any similar events pup plunge happening near you and where.

And, most importantly – don’t surprise your dog by encouraging a big leap of faith. Slow and steady introduction wins the race.

Many dog pool events require pre-registration and evidence of vaccinations.

Here are some end-of-summer dog waterparks and pool events coming up Fall 2022:

Pooch Plunge Burlington

dog in waterpark during a dog-friendly waterpark day
  • Time and Date: 1 to 5 pm, September 10, 2022
  • City: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
  • Event: Pooch Plunge fundraiser for the Burlington Humane Society
  • Location: Nelson Public Pool, 4235 New Street, Burlington, Ontario
  • Cost: $25 per dog and $10 for additional dogs.

Pooch Plunge New Market

  • Time and Date: 10 am to 4 pm, September 10 and 11, 2022
  • City: New Market, Ontario, Canada
  • Event: New’barket: Newmarket’s dog festival with additional Pooch Plunge
  • Location: Lion’s Park and Peter Gorman Outdoor Pool, 424 D’Arcy Street, New Market Ontario.
  • Cost: Additional $5 per dog for pool plunge.

Doggie Dash & Splash Kitchener

  • Time and Date: 10 am to 4 pm,  (Small dogs only 10 to 11 am) September 11, 2022
  • City: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
  • Event: Dash & Splash fundraiser for the Kitchener/Waterloo Humane Society
  • Location: Kiwanis Park Pool and Splash Pad, 1000 Kiwanis Park Drive, Kitchener, Ontario
  • Cost: $15 per dog at the door. Donations of $25 or more in advance get a swag bag.
one year old dalmation running through water at waterpark open for dogs

Dogs Only Swim Toronto

  • Time and Date: 4:30 to 6:30 pm, September 11, 2022
  • City: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Event: Public Pool open for dogs only
  • Location: Riverdale Park East, 550 Broadview Ave., Toronto, Ontario
  • Cost: free

Dogs Only Swim Mississauga

  • Time and Date: 9 am to 3 pm, September 10, 2022
  • City: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
  • Event: Dog only swim
  • Location: Lions Club of Credit Valley Pool and Splash Pad, 20 Rosewood Ave, Mississauga, AND David Ramsey Outdoor Pool, 2470 Thorn Lodge Drive, Mississauga, Ontario.
  • Cost: free

For a list of dog pools open this weekend and beyond in the United States, check out this list from Pet Friendly Travel.

Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for 30 years and travel writer for the last 20. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America, and travels almost weekly with her canine companion.

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