Dogs and vinyl liner pools


Active member
Jun 8, 2011
Charleston, IL
Hi - I am in the process of choosing a pool....although I am really wanting fiberglass, it seems that there are so many more possibilities with a vinyl liner. My concern, however, is my 3 dogs (yes, 3....I often as myself why as well). I fully expect - and want - them to swim with us but am concerned about them tearing the liner with their nails. I do try to keep them trimmed but am wondering how durable the vinyl liner over the steps or tanning ledge are? As far as that goes, do I need to be concerned about setting a chair on the tanning ledge? Am i asking for trouble? Can anyone share their experiences/lessons with me? I know I will have to teach them to come in and out of the pool by way of steps but "dogs will be dogs". Thanks.


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
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In The Industry
Apr 1, 2007
Sebring, Florida
My dog swims 365/year without an issue if we will let her. My steps are vinyl liner covered. The chairs may be more of a problem but I have no experience with that.

From my observation, the dog has no need to extend her claws and "dig" at the vinyl in any way. I suppose some would but I think it would be pretty rare.


Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 10, 2009
Houston, Texas
You could put tennis balls or walker balls on the legs of furniture to protect the vinyl.


TFP Expert
In The Industry
Jun 12, 2009
Exeter, PA
I've patched vinyl steps from normal wear let alone dogs claws. Animals drowning in a pool trying to escape by going to an edge can often slice the liner at the water line. Crescent moon shaped holes are common on the vertical pool walls and are caused by people's toenails climbing out and not using the ladder. So yes it's very possible your dogs will damage the vinyl, maybe not at first but it can definitely happen. If you are going to go with a vinyl liner I would highly recommend fiberglass/plastic steps, when back filled properly they are very durable. If you really want vinyl covered steps I would recommend dog shoes while they are swimming.
P.S. Large dogs can actually damage a safety cover with their claws if the conditions are right.


LifeTime Supporter
Oct 19, 2011
Charlotte, NC
I have/had large dogs in my lined pools for years with no problem. For 3 years I had a 90lb choc lab and a 85lb chesapeake Bay retriever in the pool almost every day and they are agressive swimmers. I've never had a problem. Sadly, now I'm down to just the Chesapeake but she has actually learned to push off the sides very hard with her back legs and still no issues.

My bulider did recommend fiberglass steps which we went with, I had the same questions for my builder but he told me not to worry. I remember him showing me a sample of the liner and having me try to push a kitchen fork threw it to prove a point. It was not easy which probably explains why my dogs have never damaged the liner.


TFP Expert
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Jul 15, 2007
Eastern Pennsylvania
We built our vinyl lined AGP specifically for the dogs. Ours are German Shepherds and are very enthusiastic swimmers. Moreover, we have pool parties several times each summer where friends bring their dogs. The pool has been up for 7 years with no damage to the liner or the steps.

Dogs spread their paws when swimming to make a larger 'paddle'. Their hind legs kick very hard in order to keep their bodies level. Some large dogs tend to kick so hard that it raises their fronts out of the water which causes their front paws to splash rather than push water. We taught a 'turn' command which we use when the dog gets toward the end of the pool; this avoids claws scraping the sidewalls. We do have one dog who does a perfect swimmer's turn by pushing off the wall but have seen no damage, not even a scratch on the liner.

The vinyl lined steps may present a problem. Dogs are very heavy when wet and it is work for them to climb out of the pool. Ours do tend to dig their claws in when exiting the water. We have wedding cake steps which they can't damage. I don't know what effect it would have on vinyl lined steps.
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