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Beyond the Doggy Paddle: 10 Fun Water Games to Play with Your Dog

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As the sun shines this summer and the weather is hot, what is better than cooling off by playing in the water? Take your four-legged best friend with you to enjoy a pool or a lake. Dogs love learning and playing. Here are some fun games you can play with while you both cool off. 

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Water Fetch

Many dogs love a good game of fetch. Bring along a favorite ball that floats and take your game to the pool. If you don’t have a water-safe toy, you can buy water dog toys designed to float. Remember to start slow and in shallow water, let them build-up to the game. Take breaks as needed.

Lake Frisbee

So, your dog has mastered the art of catching a ball in the water? How about moving to a frisbee? Frisbees can be a little more challenging to catch, so it may be an advanced level game. But if your pup is up for it, this is perfect for playing at the beach! If you are starting out, purchase a soft flying disc just for this game. The thick plastic of a traditional frisbee can be hard on their teeth, especially when they are still learning. Use short throws, or even roll the frisbee along the ground and encourage your dog to pounce on it. 

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Deep Diving Dogs

Some breeds love being in the water and are great at retrieving. If you have a dog that is a good swimmer and likes being underwater, some dogs can be taught to retrieve sinking toys. These toys are thrown from a dock and sink to the bottom of the lake. Your pup’s job is to jump off and dive down and get it. If you think this is something your dog would be good at, start slow in very shallow water. Take the time to build the skill slowly and build confidence in your dog.

Flirt Poles or Flirt Sticks

If your pup isn’t into fetch, a flirt pole can be a lot of fun at the lake. A flirt pole is a long stick with a rope at the end attached to a fun toy. It is kind of like a fishing rod! It’s also a great way to splash about while playing “keep away.” Don’t forget to let your four-legged friend occasionally win though, otherwise, they can become frustrated and bored. 

Water Tug

Good old-fashioned tug is a fun game in the water and dry land. Combine playing tug with learning essential commands, like “drop it.” If your dog gets over-excited by the game and their teeth touch your skin, stop the game immediately. Some puppies haven’t learned yet when enough is enough. It is essential to show them how to be well mannered, which is part of being a great dog parent.


Turn these commands into a fun game of “Simon Says” at the pool or on the beach. Have your dog sit at the edge of the water with a “stay” command. Then call him and have him come out to you in water. Make sure to reward him with lots of positive praise, and if you can keep them dry, some delicious treats!

Swim Tag

A game of tag is a great way to keep your dog entertained in the water. Call their name and then swim out a bit, and call for them to come. They will follow you, as dogs love to play chase. Keep a close eye on your dog in the water. Don’t let them get too tired.


SUP, Paddleboards, Boats, and Rafts

Not all dogs are fond of swimming. But that doesn’t mean they still can’t get out on the lake with you. Many dogs love to go on boat rides or to ride along on a stand-up paddleboard. If your dog is new to this, keep an eye on them and their temperament. Dogs can become tired and fidgety, and you don’t want them jumping off without you. If you are taking your dog out on the water for the first time, make it a short trip, just a few minutes. Then slowly increase the time on the water a little by little.

Baby Pool Soak

If you don’t have a pool or a lake nearby, you can still have fun in the water with your dog. On a hot day, fill a baby pool and let your dog cool down in the water. Remember, not all dogs like the water, so if your dog isn’t interested, don’t force them to stay. On the other hand, if they love their pool, this might be a great time to sneak in a bath. They’ll get a good scrub and a massage along with pool time.


Hose/Sprinkler/Sprinkler Pads

Create an agility course in your yard that includes a water feature. You don’t need fancy equipment. Anything your dog can learn to jump over, climb under, or walk across will do. Finish the game with a run through the sprinkler! There are also sprinkler pads made for kids and dogs that they can sit and play on.

A Few Safety Tips

Make being in the water a great experience for you and your dog. Follow these safety tips for the water.

Consider a Life Vest – if you are going to water that is over your dog’s head, you might want to get a life vest for them. Life vests serve a couple of roles. For one, they will keep your dog afloat even if they get tired. Also, most life vests have a handle along the back. If your dog falls out of a boat or cannot get out of the water, you can help.


Go Slow – Like with any training, teaching your dog about the water is a process. Start with shallow water or a sprinkler and watch how your dog reacts. Some dogs take to the water right away; some do not. Start with easy exposures to water so you can see their behavior, and no one gets hurt.

Have Fresh Water Handy – If you are in a chemically treated pool or saltwater, have fresh, clean water nearby. Playing can cause your dog to build up quite a thirst, and you don’t want them to drink something unsafe. Also, consider bathing your dog after playing in the water, especially if it is a chemically treated pool. Some of the chemicals in pools are not friendly to dogs’ skin.

Not All Dogs are Fond of Water – If your dog doesn’t like water, don’t force it. Or if your dog has a shortened muzzle like a Shih Tzu or a Chihuahuas, be cautious with them in water. If they inhale water, it could lead to pneumonia.

Know the Exit – If you are in a pool, make sure your pooch knows how to get out of the pool. You want your dog to have a clear exit to use if they get tired or worn out.

Most importantly, have fun! Dogs are social creatures who love to play games. Summer is an excellent time to get out with friends, your pup, and have a great time in the water. 

Vicki Smirnova is a professional pet writer and Senior Content Editor of ThePets.net. She’s passionate about sharing pet health knowledge to help pet parents to care for their pets. ThePets team includes pet experts who provide reliable information about keeping your animals healthy and happy. Also, become a fan of ThePets on Facebook.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Hi, I love your article! I like the part that aside from the game tips for dogs you’ve also included safety measures which are very important. Thanks for sharing!

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