The key to water safety is awareness.
No pet should be given unsupervised access to a backyard pool, neighborhood pond or creek. Safety also means teaching your pet what to do when he’s in the pool. Dogs don’t always understand that the steps are on a certain side, and they may tire while trying to crawl their way out. If your dog likes to swim, work with him in the pool to help him learn where the steps are so he can get out easily.
Even swimming dogs can get hot, so offer fresh water at every opportunity. When your dog is tiring, call it a day. A tired dog is a good dog, but an exhausted dog is in danger of drowning.
One of the best things you can do is to take courses in pet first aid and CPR. Many local Red Cross chapters offer these classes.
Don’t give up on the lessons, after all they didn’t coin the term “doggy paddle” because canines stay on shore.