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Dogs and water often go together like kids and sweets. Few things can bring out the genuine excitement in water-loving dogs than a trip to the lake or beach. Whether you live near a body of water or have a pool in your own garden, consider these activities and water games for dogs to keep your pooch ecstatic (and cool) all summer long.
In the Garden
Nothing is more accessible and convenient than your own garden. Chances are this is already one of your pup's favourite 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, 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 they attack the sprinkler itself!
- Hose them 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 a bath. Bath time is likely to go more smoothly if you can make a game out of it. Use your dog's favourite toys to keep them occupied on the fun parts of the wash. If you have a large wash tub that you can take outside, they may be more likely to participate since it is different from the normal bath routine.
- Play water tag. Chase your pup around the yard with a water gun. See if they can catch the stream in mid-air like they 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 their heart's content. When tired, they might also enjoy lying down for a nice long soak.
At the Pool
Water-loving dogs go gaga over swimming pools and you may be able to find a dog-friendly facility nearby. Many public swimming pools don't allow pets, so be sure to check the rules before you go. Keep in mind that the chlorine in most swimming pools makes the water unsafe for your dog to drink, and can also irritate their skin, which is why you'll need to provide fresh drinking water and a way to rinse them off when done.
Bring a doggie life vest, a ramp to help them out of the pool (if there are no easy steps), a drinking bowl and clean drinking water, a floating dog lounge, and waterproof dog toys.
What to Do
- Go swimming. This comes naturally to most dogs – hence the "doggie paddle" – although puppies, older dogs or other inexperienced swimmers should wear a life vest for safety.
- Dive in. Experienced swimmers will enjoy plunging right into the deep end. Toss a toy into the water and watch them go after it.
- 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 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 them relax in the water while you soak up some rays.
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 practise dog safety by keeping an eye out for dangers such as blue-green algae, broken glass or jagged metal that might cause injury. Be sure to avoid areas where fast moving water is present such as in streams or rivers to avoid your dog 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 favourite toy you toss into the water for them to go after.
- Paddle boarding. The calm waters of a lake are perfect for practising this Hawaiian sport, which involves balancing on an enlarged surfboard while navigating with a paddle. Many paddleboards are built with two riders in mind.
- 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, they'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 they can dive, swim, and splash to their heart's content. Just be sure to outfit them 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 them while the boat is in motion. Much like with small children, practising boat safety with your dog will help keep them safe.
- Towing. Teach your buddy a rescue skill as you relax and float in the water. Attach a ski rope leash to their life vest or harness and let them practise 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.
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 do 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 your dog’s 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 them out of the sun after a while. There are also sunscreens that are safe for dogs. This can be especially important for lighter coloured 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 their normal feeding routine -- an active day on the beach will be sure to work up an 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 them first–even experienced swimmers might find themselves challenged by large ocean swells. It is also a good idea to stay near and keep them in the shallower areas of the beach. Never let your dog venture too far from the shoreline so that they don't get caught up in the larger waves.
- Go for a walk along the beach. Your dog will love exploring the shoreline, and get some great exercise and burn off energy in the process.
- Run off-leash. If the beach allows it, and your dog is trained well enough to reliably come when called, let them run and romp in the surf and splash in the tidal pools.
- Go surfing. If your dog is an advanced swimmer, take them out with you on your surfboard or boogie board to catch some waves. If it's their first time, be sure to take it slow, giving them time to learn how to balance before heading out into deeper waters and don't forget the doggie life vest!
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.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet parent and pet blogger who writes under the supervision of a lapful of fur babies.