Dog-friendly Public Pool Fun … one day a year for a cause

poster promoting end of summer doggie pool party with pic of dog swimming in water

Summer is officially over, at least for those who associate sun fun with open public pools – but for my dog, it’s the best weekend of the year! Dog-friendly public pools!

Dog-friendly public pools happen once a season, if they happen at all. But the idea is becoming more popular in many cities.

Here’s the concept: the day before a public pool will be drained for the season, dogs are allowed to frolic in the water – usually as a fundraiser for a pet rescue or shelter.

Burlington and Kitchener SPCA Fundraisers

This year, 2023, my pup is back at her favorite two: the Burlington New Street pool, raising money for the Burlington Human Society, and the Kiwanis Park splash pad in Kitchener, Ontario, a fundraiser for the Kitchener Waterloo & Stratford Perth Human Society.  (Check out last year here)

Both were slightly differently organized. But both offered friendly pups access to some leash-free water park fun otherwise off-limits to our four-footed family members.

Some pics of dog-friendly public pool fun:

Pooch Plunge is an annual fund-raiser for the Burlington Humane Society, usually on the second Saturday of every September. On September 9, 2023, a bit of rain might have kept some pups home, but not my crazy spaniel, who jumped into the water only long enough to rescue balls.

Dash & Splash was definitely worth the drive because my pup loves this annual event and it’s her third year attending – in fact, she’s three years old next week so let’s consider this an early birthday celebration. Might as well, because she arrived at the Kiwanis Park water park in Kitchener ready to party.

Finding a Dog-friendly Public Pool Event Near You

Many communities are opening public pools to pups on the last day of the season – usually late August to mid-September, depending on local weather. If it’s not an option in your town, maybe this is a great fundraising opportunity for a rescue you support? Clearly, pre-planning is necessary, and so is finding a partnering pool. But when it works, it’s a fun day. I overheard one lifeguard say to the other, “This is the best shift ever.”

  • Because public pools are completely fenced, doggie pool days are off-leash so all dogs should be well-socialized
  • All dogs should be vaccinated
  • Bring poop bags and keep an eye on your pup
  • Often balls are part of the fun, so watch for guarding issues
  • Some events have timed entry and exit, so arrive (and leave) on time
  • Some events have a separate time slot for small dogs, which is a good idea for both big and small
  • Bring your own towels
  • Depending on your dog’s swimming ability, a dog life jacket might increase their confidence
  • Likely, you’ll get a bit wet too, so wear beach-appropriate shoes

Some pools have lowered the chlorine levels for dogs, so people aren’t permitted in the water. (Other pools use a salt system, which is safer for dogs). Either way, your dog will likely need a bath when you get home. Also, many doggie pool parties add vendors if the facility allows, making for a full-service pet-friendly event, equally fun for humans too. 

Plus, it’s a great photo opportunity…

Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and a travel writer for the last two. 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, Victoria. All written content is original, written by a person, and based on experience and research.

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