Easy Enrichment: 7 Water Games to Play With Your Dog This Summer

Certified dog trainer Sassafras Lowrey rounded up 7 fun water activities to keep you and your dog cool this summer.

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Summer is here and it's time to have fun with your dog! Not all dogs like swimming, but most dogs of all sizes are a fan of playing in water. If you can't get your dog to the beach to play this summer, you and your dog can still have fun in the sun! Even if you just have access to a small sized yard, there are lots of ways you and your dog can splash your way into backyard summer fun.


Water safety tips

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For any of these activities, the key to having fun with your dog is to make sure that you supervise your dog anytime they are in and near water, or sprinklers. This will ensure your dog can't accidentally get injured, drown, or get overwhelmed by the water. Depending on the size of your dog and the size of pools in your yard, your dog may be swimming, and if so you may want to outfit your dog in a lifejacket.

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Wade in a baby pool

Summer is the ideal season for getting your dog their very own pool - a baby pool at least. Hard plastic pools made for toddlers are available at most grocery stores in the summer and work great for dogs of all sizes from small to giant! Start by putting just a couple of inches of water into the pool to introduce it to your dog. If you are limited in storage space at your house, an alternative to the hard plastic baby pools are collapsible vinyl pools, some of which are specifically made for dogs or inflatable baby pools. Many dogs will enjoy jumping in and out of their baby pool. Even older dogs often enjoy the chance to wade into the baby pool.


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Bob for toys

If you already have a baby pool for your dog, a fun way to increase excitement about the pool is to turn it into a bobbing for toys game! To create this activity for your dog you'll want to add water to the pool (the more water you add the more challenging the game will be). Then, collect different waterproof toys you have around your house and yard and add them into the pool and encourage your dog to retrieve the toys or play with the toys. Bobbing for tennis balls (or other toys) is a great way to keep dogs occupied and engaged with their pools.



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Get a splash pad

A new favorite for my dog this summer is a portable splash pad. Splash pads for children can be purchased inexpensively on Amazon or at local retailers like Target. The splash pad combines the fun of a baby pool and a sprinkler into one easily foldable so easy to store.


The splash pad attaches to your hose and then inflates with water and will have different sprinkler holes that create mini fountains for your dog. Many dogs will enjoy chasing or engaging the splash pad sprinklers and laying or sitting in the water. If your dog isn't quite sure about getting into the splash pad you can toss toys and/or treats into the splash pad base for your dog to find and chase. Often this will help dogs get excited about playing with the water aspects of the splash pad.


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Have fun with a sprinkler run

A classic way to play with the dogs in the summer heat is to pull out a sprinkler you would use to water your lawn or garden. There are a variety of different sprinklers, some that are stationary, some that pivot side to side resulting in a cascade of water. Many dogs will enjoy jumping at the water or chasing the water. You can experiment with different styles of sprinklers or adjust the water pressure to make the sprinkler spray smaller or larger to inspire different levels of play for your dog. If dogs are nervous a smaller spray may help your dog to build confidence in the water.



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Try water agility

If you and your dog are looking to take your backyard water games to the next level you can combine some backyard agility skills like jumps and tire jumps with the most of a sprinkler on low. If you're bringing water into your agility games be sure to keep jump heights very low, and ensure your dog is on a surface like grass that will cushion landings and have good traction. Avoid hard surfaces that are hard like concrete or slippery like mud which could be harmful to your dog's joints and lead to injuries.


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Chase the hose

Watering the garden? This can be a fun chance to let our dog have some fun in the water! You can use just your regular hose, or a misting/sprinkler function on a nozzle attachment if you have one on your house. Naturally many dogs like to chase the hose water, but be sure to keep the hose low to the ground to prevent your dog from injuring themselves while jumping for the water.

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If you have a dog who loves to swim, and a slightly bigger yard, an above ground swimming pool you can setup for the summer can be a great option! Make sure to check your neighborhood HOA (if you have one) policies with regards to whether larger pop up pools are allowed. If you are adding a larger pool, make sure the chlorine levels in your pool are safe for dogs. You'll also need to create steps and/or a ramp so that your dog has a safe way to enter and exit the pool.

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Happy summer! Have fun out there!



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