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The Best Watersports For You & Your Dog This Summer!

Ready to get wet and wild with your furry best friend? Check out these awesome dog water sports that are perfect for a duo like you and your dog!

Water Safety Tips For Watersports With Dogs

dog at the beach wearing a life jacket
  • Always have your pup wear a well-fitted dog life jacket during water activities
  • Make sure your dog is comfortable around water, boats, other swimmers, and any equipment you’ll use
  • Master safety commands for bringing your dog around a body of water
  • Let your dog off-leash in the water—the leash can be a hazard if it becomes caught or wraps around your dog while they’re trying to swim
  • Do your research on pet-friendly beaches to be sure pups are allowed

Top Watersports For Dogs And Their Humans

dog water sports

SUP or Stand Up Paddleboarding

Dog owners who have experience with SUP themselves know that it isn’t always as easy as it looks. When you’ve got a pup on your SUP, it’s even more of a challenge to stay balanced and keep both of you on board.

Your dog will have a hard time sitting still if they’re not used to perching on a paddle board, so this aquatic activity is best practiced on dry land first and then in shallow water before emBARKing much beyond the shore. 

Even the best dog needs a little practice with something new. Keep a life jacket on your dog and make sure they’re always seated in front of you while kayaking so you can see them easily.

Surfing

dog water sports
KK Stock / Shutterstock.com

Water-loving dogs might just love a chance to ride the waves on a surfboard! Dog surfing is one of the oldest water sports for dogs in the United States, having started in the 1920s.

Dog surfboards are specially designed for four-legged friends to try out dog surfing. The surfboards are designed to be easier for pups to grip and more suited for hanging ten with a human companion. This watersport will require some patience and extra dog training, but there are some places where you can sign your dog up for doggie surf lessons!

You know your dog best, so make sure you think about whether surfing is something they’d enjoy. “You only attempt surfing with dogs that really love the beach and water,” says Rob Kuty from the Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego.

Kayaking

dog kayak

Kayaking is an excellent water activity to do with your dog since the only thing you need besides your normal kayaking gear is a dog life jacket! Choose one with a handle so you can easily scoop up your pup if they do go overboard. Chances are your dog will love joining you for a leisurely paddle around the pond.

Teaching your dog to climb in and out of the kayak on dry land first will help them know exactly where you expect them to sit for the journey. It’s important for your pup to be able to hold still while you paddle to keep you both balanced and afloat. Keep them up front in the kayak so you can easily see them and watch as they enjoy the view.

Knowing your dog comes in handy here, and if they’re the type that gets way too excited by wildlife or other swimmers to hold still, consider when, where, and if it’s the best idea for you to kayak with your pup.

Water Retrieval

dog in a pool

Water retrieval goes is like the ultimate game of fetch, where your dog can get wet and wild with the extra challenge of swimming for their favorite toys. Strong swimmers like labradors and golden retrievers will go crazy for the chance to chase their favorite toy into the aqua.

Your dog should already be familiar with fetch on its own before you try to play fetch in the water, and they should be comfortable with swimming on their own as well. Make sure you use water-friendly dog toys that will float and are bright enough not to get lost.

Keeping your dog in a life jacket will keep them safe for the entire swim, and keep them afloat if they get tired or pull a muscle. It can happen to pups too!

Boating

If you’re a human who has a boat, chances are you want to bring the whole family for a spin—and that includes your pooch! Safety is the most important thing when taking your dog boating with you on the water.

Like with the other watercraft we’ve mentioned, getting your dog used to the boat before it’s in the water will be a benefit to them once you hit the high seas.

Your dog should always wear a life jacket in and around the water and boats, and life jackets with handles are even better to be able to grab your pup from the water easily in a dog-overboard situation. Lastly, remember those essential beach day commands to have down before hitting the water with your dog.

Dog sunscreen is important if your pup will be exposed all day, and you might want to consider dog goggles for eye protection from the sun. Shade and fresh water on the boat are also must-haves for boating with dogs.

Dock Jumping

dog jumping into pool. dog water sports

Did you know that dock jumping is a competitive canine sport recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC)? Yup, you bet it is! The North America Diving Dogs hold competitions regularly for doggy dock jumping and dock diving.

While competitions are open to any breed, age, and size of dogs—and you certainly don’t need a competition to enjoy some dock diving-style fetch with your pup at the pond—there are certain breeds built a little better for dock diving. Labrador retrievers, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, and Australian shepherds are all well suited for this water sport for dogs.

Adventure Checklist For Dog Water Sports:

dog swimming
  1. Dog life jacket
  2. Leash (for onshore only)
  3. Sun protection (sunscreen, goggles)
  4. Freshwater & bowl
  5. Treats
  6. Dog first-aid kit
  7. Water-friendly dog toys

How to Get Your Dog Comfortable Around The Water

how to measure a dog for a life jacket

Not all dogs are natural-born water lovers. Certain dog breeds are better suited for the water than others.

No matter their breed, if your pooch is a little apprehensive about getting wet it’s important to start slow. Introduce them to the water one step at a time and practice swimming, fetching, and the doggie paddle in a low-stress environment before you go for any big adventures on the water.