The flies are buzzing, the grill is sizzling and everyone’s diving into their favorite water-related pastime. But there’s no reason to leave your dog out of the water fun. There are plenty of water activities that your dog can (safely) jump into, paws first.
Surf’s Up, Pup!
Catching waves is a popular sport for beach-loving dogs and their owners. In fact, there are surfing competitions to decide who can hang 10 (or 12 if they’re a Norwegian lundehund) the best. The competitors are generally divided into weight categories and are judged on wave height, ride length, confidence and tricks performed. Training your dog to surf can take some time, but there are dog surfing websites that can help get you started and provide advice on how to stay safe.
Hey, What’s SUP?
No, we aren’t actually asking how your day is, although we hope it’s a good one! The abbreviation SUP, in this case, stands for stand-up paddleboarding. It’s a great opportunity for you and your dog to get out on the water together (and hopefully not end up in it!). Before getting started, make sure your dog has a life jacket, can follow basic commands and has experienced the paddleboard on land first. And as always when training dogs, give your dog plenty of treats, praise or other positive reinforcements for doing a great job on the paddleboard. If your dog is a little nervous about the whole thing, Salty Dog Paddle, a nonprofit surf and SUP brand, has some great tips for paddling with high-anxiety dogs.
Dock Divin’ Dogs
Jumping off the end of a dock is a favorite summer activity for people, so it’s no surprise it can be a favorite for dogs too. The general idea is that your dog sprints down the dock and leaps into the air to try to get their favorite toy, then lands in the water with a big splash. If they are participating in a competition, it doesn’t actually matter if they get the toy or not — the distance of their “long jump” is what counts. Other competitions run by a national dock diving organization DockDogs® include “Extreme Vertical” and “Speed Retrieve.” Extreme Vertical measures how high dogs can jump to get a toy hanging above the water and Speed Retrieve sees how fast dogs can retrieve a bumper toy from the end of the pool.
More Water Fun Ideas
Other ideas to get your dog splashing in the water include swimming and water fetch. Swimming is a low-impact exercise, making it great for older dogs or dogs with health issues like arthritis and hip dysplasia. However, some dogs aren’t natural swimmers, so it’s important not to force your dog into the water if they don’t want to go in.
For dogs who are obsessed with chasing balls or sticks, water fetch is an obvious choice. All you need is a floating toy and a good throwing arm. To mix things up, you could also play “keep away” with a floating toy. If your dog is an expert swimmer, they might be able to go deep diving and retrieve a toy from the bottom of the pool.
Staying Safe in the Water
Playing in water is lots of fun, but it’s also important that you keep your dog safe while they’re in and around water. Make sure you are supervising them at all times and that you’re available to help if they get into trouble. If your dog is a brachycephalic (flat-nosed) breed, you may want to avoid deep water. With their barrel-shaped chests, short legs and tendency for breathing challenges, these breeds aren’t really built for swimming. Also, if your dog has health issues, it’s best to check with your veterinarian whether it’s safe for your dog to participate in water activities.
Potential Health Hazards of Water Play
There are a few potential health issues associated with water activities that hopefully you will never encounter, but it’s good to be aware of them. Dry drowning is a potentially fatal condition that occurs when a dog breathes in water. A scary aspect of dry drowning is that it can happen hours to sometimes days after a near-drowning event occurs. That is why, if your dog has a near-drowning incident, it is important to immediately take them to a veterinarian for a full examination, even if they seem fine.
Another concern is that your dog could get too hot while playing in the sun and water. Look out for heat-related health problems like dehydration, sunburn, burned paw pads (from paved surfaces), heat exhaustion and heatstroke. There are simple ways to protect your dog from the sun, but on really hot days, it may be best to skip the water fun and play indoors instead.
There are plenty of fun water activities for your dog to try and easy ways to make sure they stay safe while they’re splashin’ around. If your dog turns out to be a superstar in the water, there are also lots of competitions they can enter to prove that they are top dog in the water.
RELATED POST: Picnicking Safely With Your Pet