DIY Dog Pool: Chill Out with Your Buddy This Summer

lab swimming in pool
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Summer can be harsh on a dog. When a dog suffers heat stroke, it can cause internal damage and can even be fatal to your pet. One great way to help your pet avoid getting hyperthermia or heat stroke this summer is to have your dog go for a refreshing swim—in your very own DIY dog pool!

hot for a dog

Unfortunately, going to private dog swimming pools can cost a lot. A 30-minute session can cost upwards of $30, and some dog pet care centers even charge $60 or $70 per session. To save money, you can build your own dog pool and customize it for your furry pet. Also, it’s also a long-term solution; you can help your dog escape the heat when summer comes along every year, not just this year.

In this article, we’ll talk about how your dog can benefit from a refreshing swim. We’ll also take a look at some factors that need to be considered in preparation for your DIY project. Then we’ll give you some simple instructions on how to build your very own dog pool. By the end of this article, you will know exactly how to build a dog pool that best fits your home without sacrificing your dog’s aquatic enjoyment.

Why You Should Let Your Dog Go For a Swim

dog jumping into a pool

Dogs gain a lot of benefits from swimming. The most obvious one is, when the weather is extremely hot, swimming can help prevent hyperthermia. Remember, dogs don’t sweat as humans do, so they can’t get rid of their excess body heat by sweating. Swimming helps them cool down fast.

What other benefits will your dog gain from swimming? Read on find out.

  • Low-Impact Exercise. Pets, just like their human owners, also need to exercise to maintain their health. Taking your dog out for a walk is one way to do it. But when it’s too hot outside, your dog might just end up getting sick. In the heat of summer, swimming is the perfect exercise for your pet. It’s low-impact, so it’s great even for aging dogs or pets suffering from bad joints. As a regular exercise, swimming can help improve your pet’s cardiovascular condition.

  • Perfect for Dogs Recovering from a Procedure. Sometimes pet owners can’t help but worry too much when their dog has just had a procedure. This doesn’t mean, though, that you should just let your dog sleep and stay still all day. In fact, aquatic therapy is often advised for arthritic dogs, or those suffering from joint pains or ligament injuries like an ACL tear.

  • Helps in Weight Loss While Preventing Muscle Loss. Heavy dogs tend to experience too much pressure on their joints. Taking them for a jog to lose weight is not always advisable. In contrast, swimming is often recommended since it’s a low-impact workout. Moreover, because it’s a whole body workout, swimming also helps prevent muscle loss in dogs.

Things to Consider Before You Start Digging

pug swimming in pool

Building a pool for your doggie is an exciting project. But before you start digging a hole in your backyard, let’s take a look at some things first. These factors can help you decide on what kind of pool you should build for your canine pet and how you should go about it.

  • What kind of dog do you have? People often think that dogs are natural swimmers. Unfortunately, not all dogs are actually good at it. Some have difficulty keeping their head afloat in the water. Dogs with short legs like the Dachshunds or those with flat faces or short snouts like the Pugs may find it difficult to swim. Your dog’s breed will be an important factor when deciding whether your pool will be designed for swimming or just for chasing away the heat.

  • How big is your dog? Is it still a puppy or a full-sized adult? Is it a toy breed or a large dog? If you’ve got a Great Dane or a Mastiff, a doggie pool the size of a small kiddie pool might just be a tad too small. Although that would be a perfect fit for a Poodle or a Pomeranian.

  • Are there kids in your household? It’s generally safe to have your kids swim with your pet in the pool, but you just need to take a lot of precautions. Dogs can introduce a lot of dirt and germs to the pool water, and dog hair can be problematic, too. Having your kid and dog play together in the pool isn’t such a good idea if the pool water can’t be kept clean. Therefore, you might want to consider a doggie pool that you can easily clean after each use. Another concern about kids soaking in the pool with pets is the possibility of accidental scratching. Both of these potential problems can be easily managed with conscientious cleaning and consistent supervising.

  • What are the right dimensions for your dog pool? If you answered yes to the previous question, you might want to think about getting a dog pool that has ample space for your kids and dogs to play in the water together. The right size would also depend on whether you’re planning to have an indoor or an outdoor pool, and how much space you can spare. When thinking about the depth of your doggie pool, you’ll also want to consider whether you’ll need a dog ramp or not. A ramp will help your furry family member get in and out of the pool with ease.

  • How much are you willing to spend? Any DIY project should ideally have minimal costs. But since you’re doing this project for a canine loved one, you might be tempted to splurge a bit. You would definitely want to use sturdy and durable materials, so you’ll probably end up taking a trip to the nearest hardware shop instead of just using tools and supplies you already have at home.

  • Above-Ground or In-Ground? When choosing between an above-ground or in-ground dog pool, the top three things you’ll need to consider are structure permanence, whether you have the space for it, and how often your furry pet will be using the pool. If space is not a problem and you think your doggie will make long-term use of the pool, then an in-ground dog pool would best fit your needs. But if your puppy will just use it for this season, or digging a hole in the backyard is not an option, you can always go for an easy-to-construct above-ground dog pool.

For this article, we will use medium-sized dogs as a reference point for the size of the pool. You can simply adjust the proportions of the materials so that your dog pool’s dimensions will be appropriate for your dog’s size.

Make Your Own Above-Ground Dog Pool

above-ground dog pool

If you don’t have any space in your backyard, you can tailor your above-ground dog pool to fit in your limited space. You can customize your dog pool’s size so that it becomes portable, and you can just take it out whenever you feel like your dog needs to soak in the water.

Materials and Cost

For this DIY project, we’ll just use plywood as our main material. And for easy measurements, we’ll set the dimensions for our dog pool at 4’ x 4’ x 2’. A pool this size will really just be good if you only plan to let a medium-sized dog soak. So if you want your dog to be able to swim freely, you can simply adjust the length and the height of the pool.

  • You can buy a standard-sized (4’ x 8’) sheet of plywood for under $10, although your local hardware shop may sell it for $15-$20. We’ll need one and a half 4’ x 8’ sheets for your pool. For the bottom part, cut your plywood to 4’ x 4’. For the sides, you will need four 4’ x 2’ boards.

  • For the pool liner, you can use an old tarp if you have one lying around. If not, you can also use vinyl liners. However, they could get easily damaged by scratches and bites. But you can always have your doggie wear shoes so as not to damage the liner. If you prefer a more durable and permanent pool liner, you can buy a polyurethane or a PVC liner. You can buy a 10 x 12 poly tarp for around $20.

  • Other materials you will need include nails, screws, and duct tape. The last one’s needed if you’re using an old tarp that’s got some holes already.


dog ramp for a pool

An above-ground pool is naturally simpler than an in-ground pool to make. Here’s how you put all those supplies together:

  • Simply nail the bottom and the sides together to form an open square box.

  • Once you’ve got your box ready, use the tarp to line the sides. You can use screws to keep the tarp in place. Just arrange it neatly so that it won’t bunch or wrinkle. If there are any holes, you can use duct tape to patch them over.

  • Once you’re done with the lining, the only thing that’s left to do is to fill it up!

  • You can use a stool or a wood plank as a makeshift ramp so your doggie can get into and out of the pool easily. If you’re up to it, you can use your leftover plywood material to construct a dog ramp.

Alternative Materials

For this DIY project, you can use scrap materials to save money. Any material that can serve as a sturdy box and can hold water will do the trick. For your above-ground dog pool, you can use wooden boards for the sides, if you have some lying around. A wide plastic tank will also do, just for dipping or wading. A used inflatable kiddie pool will be alright. It might get damaged and torn from scratches, but it will still be good for one-time use.

Installing an In-Ground Pool for Your Doggie

For pet owners with spacious backyards, an in-ground pool will be the perfect addition to your home. Not only will it be easy for your furry pet to climb in and out of the pool whenever the mood strikes, you can also have fun customizing the design for your pool.

Materials and Cost

kiddie colourful pool

A quick newsflash: if you’re imagining a kind of permanent pool that uses cement and a high-tech water circulation system, you’ll be disappointed. We assure you, though, that your dog will enjoy this one just as much. This project is quite simple; you basically dig up a hole in the ground and place a kiddie pool inside. The purpose of the hole is to get the kiddie pool out of the way and to fix it in a semi-permanent position.

  • As explained above, if you have an old plastic kiddie pool that your kids are no longer using, you can always repurpose it as a dog pool. This is the best DIY material for your dog pool because of its durability, and you won’t need to shell out any money. If you prefer something new for your furry pet, you can buy a mid-range kiddie pool for under $50. If your budget isn’t too tight, you can get a truck bed liner dog pool for less than $150. For minimum costs, you can use a plastic kids wading pool, which you can buy for under $15.

  • For the most basic in-ground dog pool, the only other materials you’ll need are a shovel and a tape measure. But for a more artistic feel, you can add pavers, bricks, or pebbles around the pool edge later on.


hole for a dog pool

Here’s how you build a simple in-ground pool that your doggie friend will surely love and will be able to enjoy for quite some time:

  • The first thing you’ll need to do is to measure your kiddie pool’s dimensions. Using your tape measure, make sure that you get accurate measurements of the pool’s height and diameter.

  • Then comes the hard work: you’ll need to dig a hole in your backyard big enough to accommodate your pool.

  • Once you’re done digging, just make sure that the bottom is flat and smooth, then simply position your kiddie pool in it.

  • Flatten the ground around the pool edges, fill it up with water, and your doggie pool is ready!

Alternative Materials

dogs playing in swimming pool

You can also use metal sheets for your in-ground pool. But using this material would entail a lot of work. You have to make it rust-proof, so you’ll need to coat it with paint. Welding the material together will also present challenges if you’re a DIY rookie. But if you’re looking for something permanent, and you can handle the job, a dog pool made of metal would be terrific for your pet.

For pet parents with extra money to spare, a concrete, gunite, or fiberglass pool will be a first-class gift to your four-legged family member. You can have fun designing the shape of your concrete pool, and you can even customize it to allow for sporty activities like dock diving.

If you’re already an expert at DIY projects, making a wooden deck for your dog pool can be an exciting project. You can buy a prefabricated kit for this, but it’s quite expensive. So if you’re comfortable with woodworking, you can try replicating commercially available dog pool decks.

Some Safety Tips

You already treat your doggie like your very own child, but when it comes to swimming in the pool, these tips will help ensure your pet’s health and safety. You wouldn’t want your dog to get sick after romping in the pool, right?

DIY Dog Pool: Chill Out with Your Buddy This Summer

  • Hose down your dog before and after swimming. It’s unavoidable for dogs to collect dirt and germs. To make sure that your pet doesn’t dirty up the pool water, just hose him down before swimming. This would also help wash off shedding fur, so there will be less dog hair in the pool for you to clean later. Hosing down after swimming is also advisable, especially if you’ve added a bit of chlorine into your pool water or if the pool water hasn’t been changed recently.

  • Empty the water out of the pool after each use. Cleaning your pool after every use is a best practice. This will help prevent dirt from accumulating in the pool. Dog hair can clog your filter, so it’s better to remove them right away. It’s also not advisable to keep stagnant water because it could lead to bacteria and algae growing in your pool. Mosquitoes and bugs could also make their homes in your doggie pool. Overall, it’s healthier for your pet and your family if you drain and clean the pool regularly.

  • Dry and clean your doggie’s ears after swimming. Ear infections are always a concern for pet parents. But this can be easily avoided by making sure that you clean and dry your doggie’s ears after every swim.

  • Get your vet’s green light. If your canine pet is suffering from urinary tract or skin infections, it’s better to get your vet’s approval first before you let your dog go for a swim. This is especially true if your doggie has recently had an open wound. Just make sure the wound has healed completely before letting your dog into the water to lower the risk of getting an infection.

  • Constant supervision or fencing? Just like human children, dogs also need supervision whenever they go swimming, especially if you’ve got a deep pool. If your pet loves to go into the water and you can’t be there to supervise all the time, it would be a good idea to put a fence around your in-ground pool to restrict access. If it’s an above-ground pool, you can simply remove the ramp if you’re certain that your dog won’t be able to overcome the pool height without the ramp. However, this won’t be much of a concern if you used a wading pool for this DIY project.

  • Resting area and fresh water supply. Dogs also need to rest in between swims. If you built an in-ground pool, they could simply rest on the ground beside the pool. Just make sure the area is shaded. This way, your dog won’t suffer from the heat when he goes out of the water. Having a fresh water supply near the pool will also help your dog get refreshed, and it can also prevent your pet from drinking the pool water.

Wrap Up

happy husky swimming in pool

A DIY project is a labor of love. Once you’re done making your dog pool, you can sit back and lounge by the pool while your beloved canine companion is taking a refreshing swim. You’ll definitely feel fulfilled when you see your pet enjoying your gift. And don’t be shy about feeling like you’ve achieved something because you’ve definitely done a good job on your dog pool!

Wasn’t it easy-peasy making this DIY dog pool? Feel free to share your comments and suggestions. If you have any cool DIY dog pool ideas of your own, we’d like to hear all about them!

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.