Activities For Large Dogs That Like Water

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Introduction

Whether it's rain, bathtubs, pools or ponds, some dogs just love water and who can blame them? We've been fascinated with it since the beginning of humankind. But outside of the standard curiosities, water can also be a great change of pace for those who are tired of the regular land-based exercises, looking for something new, or looking for something more tailored to their water-loving dog. While there may not be as many things to do in the water as there are on dry land, that doesn't mean you and your canine can't get creative, get exercise, and have some fun in the process, which is why we've put together this list as a starting point. After all, whether it's a Poodle in a puddle or a Setter in a seaway, chances are your water-loving dog will take as many liberties to have fun in the water as possible, with or without you!

Dock Jumping

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
10 - 30 min
Items needed
Fetchable toy
Treats
Towels
Activity description
Dock jumping is a pretty simple activity that has recently turned into a sport. At its core, it requires dogs to run and leap off the end of a dock in attempts to catch as much height and distance as possible before splashing down into the water. Not all dogs are cut out for dock jumping, but most of the ones that are share two main features: they have a love for fetching and love for water. If they don't have both, you may want to consider working on whichever of the two they don't possess beforehand, otherwise you may be asking for too much in one sitting. But if and when they do, you're in for a lot of fun. The requirements are pretty self-explanatory. All you need is a swimsuit (because you'll get wet too!), a favorite fetchable toy, treats, and towels. It's free if you have all those items and minimal cost if you don't. It doesn't require sunny days, but they are usually best for splashing around in cooler water and they also provide longer light hours to attempt it.
Step
1
Get them acclimated
Since this list is for water-loving dogs, step one is easy: get them in the water! Wade in about waist deep and get them to follow you in. Once they're splashing around, toss their toy just out of reach and encourage them to fetch it. Once they do, reward them. Continue this process, increasing the distance and depth they have to travel until they eventually have to paddle out to retrieve it.
Step
2
Introduce the dock
Once they're committed to fetching, get them out of the water and comfortable on the dock with more encouragement and rewards. Once they're a bit more confident, toss their toy just out into the water and encourage them to go get it (you may have to do it yourself just to show them!). Continue tossing the ball further and further out, making them work for their distance a bit. Then try wading in the water and tossing it both up and out so they can catch it, gradually building up both their distance and overall confidence.
Step
3
Get them in the run-up
Once they've learned that they can safely jump off the dock into the water, you'll have to teach them the run-up, and you can go about it one of a few ways. You can lure them down the length of the dock with the toy, then heave it out away from them so they're forced to jump while already running (or at least trotting). If they're confident and comfortable on the dock overall, you can try to make them sit and stay on the shore in front of the dock, then call them. Once they barrel down, toss the toy out into the water so they're more inclined to leap due to the excitement of the toy. Most dogs usually get hung up on the dock itself or jumping, so if they don't seem confident in running, repeat earlier steps to build up their confidence before having them attempt it at a full run. You may have to try it a few different ways depending on their comfort, but once they get the hang of it, you've got yourself a dock jumper!
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Swimming

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Sunny Day
Free
Easy
5 - 45 min
Items needed
Leash
Water for rehydration
Activity description
Okay, this might sound like a simple one, but swimming is undoubtedly one of the easiest and most effective ways to get your dog some exercise. The increased resistance of the water and the consistent need for movement work just as well as running, if not better, and may be the perfect change-of-pace to get both you and them out and about. It's free, since all you need is a swimsuit and a body of water, but we recommend approved swimming locations and pools without an excess of chlorine, as it can be harmful to their sensitive skin, let alone their eyes and ears. You can do it for as long as you like and it's certainly not difficult if your dog already likes the water. Just make sure dogs are approved ahead of time at whatever location you choose. Be sure to pack a water dish and fresh water for your companion to drink if they get thirsty; pond or lake water is not the ideal thirst quencher.
Step
1
Get them adjusted
While some dogs may love water, swimming may be an entirely different beast, so make sure to gauge their comfort level before expecting immediate results. Their only experience might be the bath or sprinkler, so getting them adjusted is important. The first step is to get them to the water, which is when you'll quickly find out where their comfort level is. If they're a bit unsure, use treats, plenty of praise, and a favorite toy as motivation. Walk them down to the water and see how they do. If they're reluctant, lure them towards it with treats and make sure to give lots of positive reinforcement. Once they're okay being near the water, toss their toy in the shallows to see if they fetch it. Once they've achieved that, you're ready for the next and final step.
Step
2
Wade in and swim!
Some dogs are perfectly content and comfortable just splashing around the shallows of the shore, but if they're made to swim, chances are they'll start getting curious and adventurous with depth and distance. Wade in around thigh deep at first and get them to come to you (use treats, toys, and praise as necessary). Then wade in deeper, up to your waist and do the same, making sure not to rush them if they show reservations. Once you've gotten them nearly submerged, move out a bit more, so they have to paddle out to you (hint: some dogs are more motivated by the safety of their owner, while others simply need the motivation of a toy). Once you get them in that far, swim further out or toss their toy until they're confidently paddling around on their own. If the body of water is small enough, you may be able to coax them from one side to the other, which a huge confidence booster for most dogs. If you get that far, you've got yourself a swimmer!
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Sprinkler Frolicking

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Hot Day
Free
Easy
5 - 30 min
Items needed
Favorite Toy
Hose
Sprinkler
Activity description
If you don't have access to a nearby pool or other body of water, your sprinkler might be your next best bet or even just your best option. After all, just because your dog loves water, doesn't necessarily mean they're comfortable paddling around on their own! This is a great activity you can do with a simple setup right at home and works great if you're on a time crunch, as setup and breakdown is generally quicker than driving to a nearby body of water for most. It's cheap if you have all the supplies and if not, doesn't cost much to get a sprinkler (although a hose might cost you a little more, depending on length). They are best reserved for sunny or hot days because it is generally a great way to cool off, but as long as there isn't lightning or chilly temperatures, you can get away with it in the rain as well. Plus, it's one of the easiest water-based activities around.
Step
1
Setup the sprinkler
Most people with a yard may already have things at least half-way set up, but for those who don't, it's surely an easy process. All you need to do is twist the hose onto the threads of your outside faucet, run the hose to an appropriate place in the yard, screw on the sprinkler and set it down. Make sure that you clear space around it, as even if the sprinkler itself doesn't reach your meant-to-stay-dry belongings, a shaking dog can get some serious distance, and they're not always careful either.
Step
2
Frolic freely!
The last two steps are amazingly easy. All you have to do is turn on the outside faucet and watch both your dog and the sprinkler go. Since we're on the subject of water-loving dogs, chances are your dog will be quick to interact with the sprinkler, running through its narrow streams or biting at them, but be forewarned, lots of dogs get excited enough to attack the sprinkler, so keep an eye out for those tendencies, unless you want this activity to cost a bit more than you anticipated. If they happen to be reluctant, pop on a swimsuit and join in! Show them the streams of water are harmless and meant to jump through. If they love the water enough, they should get the hint pretty quick. If they don't, treats, toys, and calls should have them on their way in no time.
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More Fun Ideas...

Hose 'em!

Even if you don't have a sprinkler, using a hose in the yard can be just as fun. You can use a hose head to change the type of water flow, mount it or aim it at the sky and run through it. You can also chase your dog with the water stream or vice versa, as many are wont to do. Chances are, if your dog truly does love water, they won't mind what you do, as long as they get cooled down and have fun in the process.

Give Them a Bath

If you're unsure if your dog enjoys the water, their reaction to bath time should tell you all you need to know. Most dogs eventually need bathing, no matter how clean they stay, so if you're looking to get them introduced in a controlled environment, baths can be a great way to get them clean and with any luck, help them find some enjoyment in the process.

Beach Walk

This is as nearly as simple as swimming, but it lets dogs adjust to the water at their own pace, which is perfect for introductions to unknown bodies of water. Even if it takes them some time to get comfortable in their surroundings, the resistance of the loose sand should provide exercise that's a step up from a basic walk, and with any luck, they'll appreciate being on a surface where they can burn around without hesitation.

Conclusion

Finding water-based activities for your water-loving dog can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you don't have easy access to the types of places you'd like to take them, but don't get discouraged. There are plenty of things you can do in your own back yard or even just in your bathtub as we've listed above - that is, as long as you have running water (or at least rain water). Even if your last resort is dumping a bucket of water on their back or letting your puggle romp in some puddles, there are plenty of opportunities to provide your pup a safe, fun way to enjoy the water.