Top Ten Water Sports for Dogs

PetMD Editorial
Updated: October 16, 2020
Published: August 04, 2011
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Aqua Dog

It is a well-known fact that dogs love to play in the water! Take your pooch anywhere near it -- pools, the ocean, even a park fountain -- and she’ll make a beeline to jump in. This top ten list highlights water sports for dogs, from the ultra-competitive to the leisurely. Who knows, your dog might have what it takes to be the next "Big Kahuna!"

Image: Bruce / Flickr

#10 Water Retrieval

Do you have a canine that loves to fetch her favorite toy from the water? The sport of water retrieval is the same idea, only with a competitive edge. This is especially fun for new puppies in your home, especially water-loving breeds. Watch as they maximize their natural aquatic ability and have fun while doing it.

Image: Randen Pederson / Flickr

#9 Surfing

Is there a better companion to catch some waves with than your pooch? If your dog is a proven swimmer (some dogs need to be taught how), why not take her out with you when the surf’s up? There are even places that will teach you and your pooch how to balance on a board. Cowabunga, dude!

Image: Mike Baird / Flickr

#8 Paddleboarding

Similar to surfing, paddleboarding can provide aquatic amusement once your pooch learns to balance on the board. Paddleboarding is also a nice way for your dog to enjoy the tranquility of the water and the fun of exploration.

Image: docentjoyce / Flickr

#7 Freestyle Swimming

Most dogs have an innate ability to tread water, or "doggie paddle," and their swimming styles are as unique as their personality and breeding. Especially in the summertime, you’ll find dogs happily plunging into the water at pet-friendly beaches and resort pools. It is one of the best ways your dog can have fun in the sun, and still stay cool.

Image: Lisa Murray / Flickr

#6 Dog Diving

For the advanced canine swimmer, retrieving items underwater is a fun and challenging sport. Weighted toys suitable for diving will enhance the benefits of exercise and aquatic play, and can be purchased online or in stores.

Image: Andrew Morrell / Flickr

#5 Dock Jumping

This aquatic canine sport is one of the most popular. It’s easy to see why, too. Competitions are scored based on speed, agility, and length of the jump -- from the dock’s edge to where the dog’s nose touches the water. Best of all, dock jumping is exciting and fun for people and pooches alike, and it’s a safe activity.

Image: Ingrid Taylar / Flickr

#4 Canoeing

Similar to paddleboarding, but requiring no prior training, going out in a canoe with your dog will provide her with hours of peaceful enjoyment and relaxation. If you’re going down a river, remember to check the terrain first to ensure there aren’t nasty rocks or strong currents ahead.

Image: Nate Bolt / Flickr

#3 Towing

Certain canines enjoy being around people just as much as being in the water. Why not combine the two and teach your dog towing? It's as much a game as it is a rescue skill, but that doesn't make it any less fun. Sure, your dog can tow inanimate objects, but having her pull you around while you’re in an inner tube just sounds so much more enjoyable!

Image: George Keith / Flickr

#2 Boating

Similar to dock jumping, boating adds the thrill of diving into deep water. In addition, with boating you can mix it up and combine the sport of towing, retrieval and swimming, too. Just remember that if you’re boating in salt water, it’s important to keep your dog well hydrated.

Image: Jesus & Kristie / Flickr

#1 Aquatic Free-For-All!

Finally (and best of all) you can enjoy and participate in any and all of these aquatic pastimes with your pooch! You can enjoy playing water retrieval with your dog, or decide to include that among other water activities designed for competition, or even rescue training. The combination of sports you can enjoy with your dog is endless!

Image: Andrew Magill / Flickr