Some dogs seem to be part fish — happy to splash and play in water all day, if you let them, like kids and candy. For these pups, there are plenty of activities that will keep them entertained. Whether you live near a body of water or have a pool in your own backyard, consider these activities and water games for dogs to keep your pooch ecstatic (and cool) all summer long.
In the Backyard
Nothing is more accessible and convenient than your own backyard. Chances are this is already one of your pup's favorite hangouts, and there are no rules or leash laws to worry about other than the ones you set yourself. When the dog days of summer threaten to stretch into boredom, however, there's an easy recipe to liven things up: just add water.
Bring some rugged dog toys, a hose (or lawn sprinkler), a kiddie pool, some towels, and your imagination.
What to Do:
- Play in the sprinklers: Hook up a sprinkler, portable or otherwise, to a garden hose for your buddy to romp through. Just don't be surprised if he attacks the sprinkler itself!
- Hose him down: Don't have a sprinkler? You can get the same effect with a spray nozzle on your garden hose, and soaking your pooch is a great way to beat the heat on a humid afternoon.
- Give him a bath: Bath time is likely to go more smoothly if you can make a game out of it. Use your dog's favorite toys to keep his mind occupied on the fun parts of the wash. If you have a large wash tub that you can take outside, he may be more likely to participate since it is different from his normal bath routine.
- Play water tag: Chase your pup around the yard with a water gun. See if he can catch the stream in midair like he would a Frisbee®
- Splash in a pool: Fill a hard-plastic kiddie pool (or a more durable pool made especially for dogs) with water and let your dog jump in and out to his heart's content. When he gets tired, he might also enjoy lying down for a nice long soak.
At the Pool
- Swimming: Most dogs that love water are happy to paddle around in a lake, creek, or dog-friendly pool. But before you let your dog off his leash, review canine swimming safety tips to ensure your pup is well equipped to handle the water.
- Diving Dogs: Is your canine companion’s favorite game fetch? He should try Diving Dogs. The sport involves throwing a toy into the water while your dog waits on a dock. He must then run and jump into the water to retrieve his toy. Dogs are judged by the distance of their jump. This sport has gained a lot of attention over the last few years.
- Play catch. Throw a ball or Frisbee out over the pool and let your pooch jump in to catch it before it hits the water.
- Take it easy. Once he's tired out, your dog will enjoy simply floating along the surface as much as you do. There are plenty of companies that make pool floats for dogs that'll let him relax in the water while you soak up some rays.
At the Beach
A day at the beach can be just as enjoyable for water-loving dogs as it can be a relaxing event for you. As with lakes, not all beaches are pet-friendly, and even those that are sometimes have strict rules about keeping your dog on a leash. Check the rules before planning your trip. Salt water isn't any safer for your dog to ingest than it is for you, so be sure to bring plenty of fresh drinking water for the both of you–and have a plan to rinse the salt and sand out of his coat before heading home. Sun protection is also a must, not just for you, so find a shady spot or bring a beach umbrella that gets him out of the sun after a while. There are also sunscreens that are safe for dogs. This can be especially important for lighter colored dogs as the skin beneath their fur can still get burned.
Bring fresh drinking water and water dish, canine sunscreen for the nose and ears, a beach umbrella, a blanket for your dog, extra towels, a life vest, and waterproof toys. Also, if you plan on spending the day at the beach make sure to bring food or treats for your canine pal so that you don't upset his normal feeding routine -- an active day on the beach will be sure to work up his appetite.
What to Do:
- Wave diving: Let your pooch splash in the surf and dive into the approaching waves. Just be sure to put a life vest on him first–even experienced swimmers might find themselves challenged by large ocean swells. It is also a good idea to stay near him and keep him in the shallower areas of the beach. Never let him venture too far from the shoreline so that he doesn't get caught up in the larger waves.
- Go for walk along the beach: Your dog will love exploring the shoreline and get some great exercise and burn off energy in the process.
- Let him run off-leash: If the beach allows it, and if he's trained well enough to reliably come when he's called, let him run and romp in the surf and splash in the tidal pools.
- Surfing: Does your pup have what it takes to become the next surf dog? The late, great Tillman, a Bulldog known for surfing and skateboarding, helped make this activity so popular that there are now annual surf dog competitions.
- Search and Rescue: A great way to combine your dog’s love of water with a good cause is by participating in search and rescue. Some organizations specifically train dogs to help with water rescues and locate drowning victims.
- Water Retrievals: Some dogs may like to retrieve, but not necessarily jump off a dock, and that’s okay. Water retrieving uses a weighted toy that sinks to the bottom of a pool for your dog to get. It’s important to note that the water should not be too deep, so your dog can comfortably swim to and from the surface.
At the Lake or River
It isn't hard to find a spot along the shoreline where your dog can play, but not all beaches, swimming areas, and other public use areas are pet-friendly, so be sure of the rules before you go. Once there, keep away from stagnant water–which can host mosquitoes and other parasites as well as dangerous amoeba–and practice dog safety by keeping an eye out for dangers such as snakes, blue-green algae, and broken glass or jagged metal that might cause injury. Also, be sure to avoid areas where fast moving water is present such as in streams or rivers to avoid him being swept away.
Additionally, bring a doggie life vest, a water dish and clean drinking water, waterproof toys, a paddleboard and paddle, a dog-proof flotation device, a first aid kit, and a safety harness with a handle. Don't forget baggies to clean up after him, too!
What to Do:
- Play water retrieval: Retriever breeds will especially enjoy this fetch-like game, which involves retrieving a favorite toy you toss into the water for him to go after.
- Dock jumping: This one has grown to be one of the most popular water games for dogs, and for good reason. If your pooch loves to swim, he'll love this game of getting a running start and making a splash every time.
- Boating: Whether it's a rowboat or canoe, a speed boat, a sailboat or a lazy pontoon, you pup will no doubt love to go for a ride out to deeper waters–where he can dive, swim, and splash to his heart's content. Just be sure to outfit him with a life vest and safety harness with a handle for easy lifting back into the boat. Also, be sure to keep an eye on him while the boat is in motion. Much like with small children, practicing boat safety with your dog will help keep him safe.
- Towing: Teach your buddy a rescue skill as you relax and float in the water. Attach a ski rope leash to his life vest or harness and let him practice pulling you along.
- Floating: You're not the only one who enjoys a lazy afternoon floating down the river. Bring along your dog-proof flotation device so your furry companion can keep you company while you drift.
- Paddleboarding: Paddleboarding is a fun activity that you and your dog can do together. However, you probably shouldn’t bring your canine companion along unless you’re an experienced paddleboarder yourself. This is another activity that should include a dog life jacket.
With so many options for water-loving dogs your friend will no doubt be endlessly entertained all summer long. And undoubtedly you and your family will be as well.