Question: Hi, I am in the process of building a boarding
and training kennel, and water therapy facility. We are starting with a covered
outdoor pool and a pond. Because we’re located in the southeast the pond will
be used primarily for sports and conditioning 3/4 of the year because of
moderate weather. The pool though, there are so many choices it’s
mind-boggling. Cost-wise, we are shooting for a rectangular 12′ to 16′ by 20′
to 32′ pool. Warm enough for therapeutic value, but cool enough for
conditioning, too.

What are the pros and cons of pool types in the opinions of people already
using the pools? Does the ACWT have a site or information we could rely on to
make an informed decision?

Thank you, Paula P.

Answer: Hello Paula! Sounds like you have a great business
idea and we all can’t wait to hear about your new facility.

Since you have the luxury of having a pond for recreational swimming, what I
would probably recommend is buying a swim spa for your therapeutic use. One
option is the FLORIDA NORTH Swim Spa. Florida North offers a discount to ACWT
members – check out our Membership page. Their Swim Spa is an 8′ x 20′
fiberglass portable unit. The spa itself retails for $11,500 (not including
shipping and installation costs) and the bench and stairs are quite usable for
therapy. Some of the swim spas we have seen have weird molded seats or little
corner steps making them impractical for our canine friends. The Florida North
spa is a stand-alone unit so it can be installed above-ground. There are also
other options in swim spas such as the stainless steel and tile swim spa
available from Bradford Products. However, these types of spas are over $30,000
(not including shipping and installation) and are much heavier than the
fiberglass models which make installation a bit more limiting. For fiberglass
or acrylic vessels, if you go with any size over 8 feet wide, you will probably
need to install them in-ground due to weight and the pool’s inability to
contain itself when full. Always check with the manufacturer to see what kind
of installation is appropriate.

These are the reasons why I would suggest you consider a swim spa:

  1. The swim jets and the circulation jets are strong, allowing for the water
    to turn over many times which leads to the sanitation that is always a
    challenge with dog hair. You don’t want a stagnant pool and those that do go
    with the in-ground pool have to beef up their circulation system to drive the
    pool water through the filters (3 options – DE/SAND/CARTRIDGE).
  2. Swim spas can be portable and relatively inexpensive, allowing one to get
    into business on a limited budget with a great pool.
  3. I have never had a dog who I couldn’t do wonderful therapy work in an 8′ x
    20′ spa. Even 240 pound mastiffs have ample room for therapeutic swimming and
    work.
  4. They aren’t too big so you can’t implement a complete dump/clean and water
    change with your program. This is an ideal situation for a canine spa. One
    rarely dumps an in-ground pool.
  5. You can turn temperatures up and down as needed. Due to the lower water
    capacity over a pool, a swim spa is very efficient. I used to have tropical
    Tuesdays set at 96 degrees for the greyhounds and whippets and very elderly who
    only came in for massage and then it would be 88 degrees by Friday for the hard
    core swimmers. My usual temperature is 94 degrees for all kinds of work and my
    comfort. Also, maintenance costs are much less with a spa with lower water
    capacity.

Keep us posted and good luck !!!

Warmest Regards,
Cindy Horsfall

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