Dog Activities, Dog Lifestyle

The Best Water Sports for Dogs: Get Your Pup Wet and Wild!

We know that like with humans obesity and boredom are ongoing struggles for certain dogs making them at risk of not only unhappiness but health problems, from arthritis to heart disease. This is why we have found the best water sports for dogs. Research suggests people who exercise with their dogs and enjoy exercise are more likely to stick to a fitness program – so why not take that exercise to the water by finding some top water sports for dogs.

Benefits of water sports for dogs

When it comes to water sports for dogs, you’ll be glad to learn that there are numerous health benefits that make this a fantastic pastime for them, particularly with dogs who have heart issues such as high blood pressure. According to Top Dog Health, swimming is one of the best exercises you can do with a dog.  Water exercise is known to help dogs with their cardiovascular system, strengthening heart and lungs. A study found that when pets were given physical therapy which included swimming or swimming laps for a minimum of two minutes, the animals’ heart rate was lower and improved. 

“Water therapy is beneficial in a variety of different areas,” explains Dr. Jonathan Block, DVM, of Water4Dogs Canine Rehabilitation Center in New York to PetMD. “From a preventative perspective, hydrotherapy is good for fitness, body condition, and a great source of aerobic exercise that is low impact on the bones and joints. It is a great tool to help your dog stay in optimal shape.”

Research also shows that dogs who have regular swimming sessions were found to have lower levels of stress, anxiety, and pain associated with the common condition of hip dysplasia. 

Not all sports will require swimming but if you are on or around a body of water with a dog the odds are greater that he will experience a dunk at some point and a good swim.  Here are some of our favorite water sports for dogs.

What are the best water sports for dogs with difficulty rating?

Some water activities with your dog are easy and if your dog loves the water they can easily learn them.  We talk a lot about sporty dogs in our book and feature some incredibly impressive ones.  Most water sports can even be done in a pool, on a boat or in a dog park. Others need more specialized training and special skills, here are some of our favorite water sports to do with your dogs with difficulty rating:

Paddle boarding with Your Dog. 

Paddle boarding with your dog can be very fun as long as your board is big enough to manage the extra weight and wide enough to be stable.  Excitable or anxious dogs may cause your board to tip.  A good command of obedience terms will definitely help.  

 Dog Dock Diving 

Dog dock diving is gaining popularity but may take some training for your dog to be confident enough to jump of the dock.

Waterfowl Hunting 

Waterfowl hunting will inevitably require water skills.  According to Nomad Outdoor, introducing your dog to water is critical.  The experts at Nomad Outdoor even say “(e)ven the most water-prone dogs, like Labradors and golden retrievers, can become hydrophobic if they’re not introduced to water at a young age. You can start by putting their paws in small bowls of water, move to kiddie pools, and eventually have them swimming on ponds, lakes, and rivers.

Once they know that water is safe and fun, they will be well equipped for a full day of retrieving ducks.”   They also note that through training, patience, and persistence, you and your dog function as a team, creating a wonderful experience.  Although you may not go out waterfowl hunting everyday setting your dog up for it by playing catch and retrieve in water and ensuring he is obedience trained are all fun water sports to pursue with your dog.

Dog Surfing. 

If you have your eye on the dog surfing world championships then you better get on with it and no better way to start with the Book a Dog’s Guide to Surfing.  Dogs seem to enjoy surfing along with their owners and there are several competitions to motivate you along the way.  

How to train your dog for water sports

Most dogs are born with the innate ability to swim but this will depend on your dog’s breed and body type.  Pugs for instance will need a little extra help in the water as opposed to a Portuguese water dog which actually has webbed feet.  

Introduce your dog to water very carefully and gently.  Nomad even suggests dipping the dogs front feet in water and then progressing beyond that.  The most important is that the first experience and introduction to water is positive for your dog and your dog obtains confidence so that you can participate in some of the best water sports for dogs as his training progresses.  

A dog life jacket may be required so that your dog always feels safe and comfortable, especially if there are waves.  The added bonus is that life jackets contain straps so that if your dog does get into trouble you can hold them.

If you introduce your dog to water in a pool watch out for inadvertent strikes with their nails as you will want to support them as they move off of the step and start to swim.  Bring in a toy or other item they like to encourage them to move into the water.  

There are many ways to train your dog for water sports but you will want to first concentrate on basic obedience and then move on to confident and safe water experiences.  The more comfortable your dog is in the water the faster they will progress partaking in the best water sports for dogs.  

Dog Health Considerations When Choosing the Best Water Sport for Your Dog

Participating in the best water sports for your dogs will certainly provide fun experiences, ample exercise and bonding opportunities with your dog.  However, to keep safe consider these dog water health tips. 

  1. Appropriate skill level.  Ensure your dog has the appropriate swimming skills to participate in any water sports that you engage in so that he can stay safe.  It is one thing to play fetch with your dog at a shallow lake and quite another to play at a beach with strong waves and an undercurrent.  Be mindful about your dogs skill level and confidence when partaking in water sports with your dog.
  2. Maintain Confidence.  Some pets will naturally dive in and have a lot of confidence in the water.  If your dog takes a while to warm up to the idea of swimming, be patient and allow them to gain confidence with small steps.  This will be the best way to ensure they later enjoy the best water sports for dogs.
  3. Be Aware for Health Issues Associated with Water Play.  Chlorine, sand, and salt water need to be rinsed from your pet to avoid skin irritations.  Additionally, watch for excess water in your dog’s ears which could lead to infections.  Most dogs can manage with water but certain dogs with stand up ears are more prone to water in the ears.  Take notice if your dogs is shaking his head or rubbing his ears which may be signs of an ear infection in your dog.
  4. Safety Equipment.  Many experts recommend using a personal floatation device for your dog.  PFDs will definitely increase confidence and add to the safety.  

Bonus Tip: Make sure that when you are participating in water sports you bring a long water for your dog so they won’t be tempted to drink from unhealthy water sources that could make them sick

Last Words on the Best Water Sports for Dogs

In the end water play with your dog can be fun and rewarding and increase the health and happiness of you and your pet so our best tip is to have fun, enjoy and experiment with some of these best water sports for dogs to get your pup wet and wild and visit some of these beaches while you are at it.