Water sports with your dog

Some dogs just love water. It’s like it’s in their genes (clue: it is. See the Irish Water Spaniel and the Portuguese Water Dog). 

We already know dogs can dry-off quicker than us – humans can’t quite shake 70% of water off our skin in four seconds… yet. But, when it comes to getting on, in or by the water, guess what? There are so many aquatic adventures you can do with your dog! Whatever the season or weather, if your dog loves a swim, we’ve got lots of fun, creative ideas right here. 

There’s nothing like a dip in the sea, but some dogs need more help than others – did you know not all dogs can swim?

Some pups can have more trouble and swimming isn’t advised as it can be challenging and dangerous for them. Flat-faced (brachycephalic) dogs are at higher risk of inhaling water, and those with long bodies and short-legs can struggle to stay above the surface too – please check the list below and make sure you’re right there in the water with them, supporting them with a life jacket or just letting them splash about in the shallows:

  • Basset Hound 
  • Bulldogs
  • Bull Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Corgis
  • Dachshund
  • Pug
  • Boxers
  • Shih Tzu 

Get reading, do some research on places near you, and let’s get ready to get some paws happy and wet! 

Safety first

Whatever you’re planning on getting out there and doing, make sure you’ve got the right kit – for you both. 

  • You need a life-vest? Then so does your dog!
  • First-aid kit
  • If it’s hot, get a dog-friendly sun cream for delicate ears and exposed skin!
  • Get a great body harness with a top handle. Handy if you need to pull them out of the water onto your board, as you might be busy balancing!
  • Dog sea shoes – these are purely a personal choice, but dog sea shoes can protect pads from injury in and out of the water, as well as hot sand (and pavements!)
  • Collapsible water bowls for life on the move
  • Treats, treats, treats
  • Poo bags and paper towels
  • Towel or a dog drying coats (great when the weather cools down, too!)

A simple swim

If the thought of getting out there for a shared doggy paddle sounds as glorious to us as it does to you, there are loads of places across the British Isles set up for just that. And the only kit you need are your swimmers (or a wetsuit if it’s the depths of winter. Brrrilliant).

Where to go

Local beaches and lakes are great, but remember to never swim in a canal, reservoir or quarry and always check online if you’re not sure about those aquatic adventures.

  • If you’ve got a garden, get your own dog-friendly pool
  • Check local public swimming pools – and lidos – to see if they have doggy days!
  • Beaches 
  • Hydrotherapy pools.

Watch out for: 

…nasty bacteria or toxins live here that may make them ill.

More than a swim?

Let’s start with the basics:

  • Does your dog respond to simple commands? 
  • Can they swim?
  • If that’s yes, then let’s go!


Dogs love retrieving, so if you want to enjoy a game of fetch in the water get out there.

Tip: don’t throw the ball out too far if you’re in the water yourself, and make sure if you’re on the shore there aren’t any riptides or signs warning of weird currents.

Dogs and paddle boarding

Can you take your dog paddle boarding? The short answer is yes: of course you can. In fact with their low centre of gravity and four legs to our two, SUP is a piece of cake for dogs. Did you know that some paddle-boarding places now offer places for you and your dog? Get them used to the movement on the water, and some simple training on knowing where to stand and you’ll have an adventure-loving pup for life! 

Catching a wave

Do a quick google or pop over to TikTok and you’ll see loads of our furry friends catching a wave or two.

  • Look for lessons online to get you and your dog started
  • Begin in the shallows
  • Get them used to the water and the board 

 For dog surfing tips from the professionals look to this great list at Surfer Today right here. 

Dogs and kayaking

If you’re at one with a canoe, or have a yearning to hit the shoreline with a kayak, the great news is your dog can totally come too. Here’s how to do it:

  • Build confidence before you get on the water
  • Introduce a routine
  • That kayak is slippy and moves!
  • Reward your dog at every step
  • Let them know when they’re invited on – and when to jump off
  • Teach them specific commands: up, get in, leave it, hup! All work really well
  • If you need your dog in a particular position, reward them when they lie down – and in the right place

If your dog’s got sea legs, then the life aquatic is calling. Have fun!

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