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Don't assume your dog knows how to climb out of a pond...or even how to swim. To make sure your dog doesn't panic if he falls in, take the time to introduce him to the pond. Let him swim if it's deep enough, then guide him to an easy way out. Do this two or three times until you're sure he can do it on his own.

To prevent accidents create ponds with graduated, stepped sides rather than steep drop-offs. Small children should be kept away from backyard ponds, but constant vigilance isn't enough. Make sure your pond offers an easy way to climb out in case kids (or pets) do fall in. A series of flat, level, roughened surfaces offer more grip and stability than steep, slippery pond liner. You'll thank yourself for this stability later when it's time for routine pond maintenance.

Don't forget to hire a licensed electrician to run power to your equipment. This is not a job for the do-it-yourselfer. Anytime you're dealing with electricity and water, safety issues increase. All outdoor electrical sources need to include ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) to prevent electrocution.

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