Dog on a paddle board

The best watersports for you and your dog this summer

Dogs have a natural affinity for water, and some breeds are excellent swimmers. Whether your furry friend loves paddling in the waves or prefers to stay at a safe distance from the water’s edge, there are plenty of exciting watersports that you can try together this summer.

Water retrieval

If you’re looking for a thrilling way to spend time with your pooch, consider trying out water retrieval. It’s like a game of fetch but with the added challenge of swimming. Retriever breeds and other strong swimmers will particularly enjoy this activity. Just make sure your dog is already comfortable with swimming and fetch before trying it out. Choose water-friendly toys that are easy to see and that float in the water.


Dog playing water retrieval
Picture by @thornhill_photography
Human with a dog paddle boarding  

SUP (stand-up paddleboarding)

SUP is another fantastic watersport that you can enjoy with your furry friend. However, it’s important to note that it can be challenging to stay balanced on a paddleboard – especially with your dog on board. Practise on dry land first and start in shallow water before venturing too far offshore. Your dog may need some time to get used to perching on the board, so be patient and keep it seated in front of you. And, of course, always make sure your pup wears a life jacket with a safety light.



Kayaking with your dog can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Before heading out, teach your dog to climb in and out of the kayak on dry land to help it understand where to sit during the journey. It’s also essential for your pup to stay still to maintain balance while you paddle. Keep it at the front of the kayak so you can keep an eye on it while enjoying the view. However, pay attention to your dog’s behaviour, as some dogs can get overly excited around wildlife or other swimmers.

  Human is kayaking with a dog
Australian shepherd dog on a boat  


If you own a boat, bringing your dog along for a ride can be a fun family activity. Introduce your pup to the boat on dry land before taking it out on the water. Always ensure your dog wears a life jacket and consider attaching a safety light to it in order to be able to spot the dog in waves and when it gets dark. It’s crucial to train your pup with on-water commands before setting out on your boating adventure. Don’t forget to provide shade and fresh water for your furry friend. Also, consider using dog sunscreen and goggles for extra protection.


Dock jumping

Dock jumping, also known as dock diving, is a competitive canine sport popular in countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Austria. Dogs compete by jumping from a dock into a body of water from a certain distance or height. While any breed, age or size of dog can participate in competitions, certain breeds, like Labrador retrievers, Chesapeake Bay retrievers and Australian shepherds, are better suited for this sport. You don’t necessarily need to enter your dog into a competition to enjoy some fetch at the pond.

  Dog is jumping into the water
A dog standing on a surf board  


If your furry friend loves the water and enjoys surfing, then dog surfing might be a perfect watersport for it. Dog surfing is a popular activity in the United States and Australia, and it gained traction in Europe with the first Dog-Surf Championship in Spain in 2022. Dog surfboards are specially designed for our four-legged friends to grip. However, extra dog training and patience are required. Only attempt surfing with dogs that genuinely love the beach and water.


How to get your dog comfortable around the water

Not all dog breeds are born water lovers, and some are better suited for the water than others. Retrievers, Portuguese water dogs, Irish water spaniels, poodles and Irish setters are among the breeds that are more comfortable around water. However, other breeds, like brachycephalic breeds and very short-legged dogs, are not built for swimming. However, they can still enjoy water activities safely as long as they wear a well-fitted life vest with a safety light.

Regardless of breed, it’s important to start slowly and introduce your furry friend to the water gradually. Begin by practising swimming, fetching and the doggy paddle in a low-stress environment before venturing out into bigger water adventures.


Water safety tips for watersports with dogs

– Always have your pup wear a well-fitted dog life jacket and begin training it on
– Make sure your dog is comfortable around water, boats, other swimmers and any equipment you will use.
– It’s also important to master safety commands for bringing your dog around a body of water.
– Avoid using a leash in the water as it can become a hazard if it gets caught or wraps around your dog while it is
– Be sure to research pet-friendly beaches to ensure that your furry friend is allowed.

By following these tips, you can ensure that you and your furry friend stay safe and have a great time participating in water activities. For more water safety tips for dogs, check out our article Water safety and boating with dogs.

Incorporating these watersports into your summer routine can be a fun and exciting way to bond with your furry friend. So strap on your life jacket, grab your water-friendly toys, and get ready to make a splash with your pooch!

Stay safe out there!

Australian shepherd dog with a life vest in water

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