If you have a dog that loves water, consider adding some fun water toys to your playtime regimen. It's a great way to stay cool in the summer and enjoy toy time with your dog if you're vacationing by a lake or ocean.
Dog Ball Toys
Balls are a great choice for water play because there are many brands available that float and can hold up to getting wet often. They're also easy for you to transport, clean and store when not in use.
- Balls can be used to toss into a pool, lake, or the ocean with the object being your dog running into the water to get the ball and return it to you.
- If you are throwing the ball into a shallow body of water, such as a kiddie pool, you can also try using a heavier ball that sinks if your dog enjoys dunking his head in to grab it. Use caution though as you don't want the dog to submerge their head in too far to avoid getting water in their ears.
- Balls that float include tennis balls made for dogs and brands made specifically for this purpose, like the Chuckit! Ultra Ball.
Floating Retrieve Toys
Retrieve, or fetch, toys are designed to be thrown at a distance and brought back to you by your dog, so they're ideal for play at lakes and oceans. Retrievers in particular adore these toys although any breed of dog can be taught to fetch. They're much safer to use than the traditional "stick" that you find in the woods and toss in the water as there's no risk to your dog of breaking a piece and accidentally ingesting it.
- Floating retrieve toys come in a big variety of shapes and sizes so you're sure to find one that attracts your dog.
- Many come with a heavy-duty rope attached which makes it easy for you to grasp the toy when your dog returns it, as well as use it as a tug toy.
- Whichever floating toy you choose, make sure you choose one with colors that will stand out in the body of water you'll be at, whether it's a swimming pool or ocean, and that you only toss it out so far as your dog is able to reach it in the water.
- Strongly consider getting a life jacket for your dog if you use any of these toys as your dog can easily get tired and you want to keep your best friend safe.
Options to Consider
Several types are available to purchase.
- A popular type of floating retrieve toy is called a "bumper" which is also used in dog training competitions such as hunting tests and diving dogs.
- Another excellent choice is a Kong floating fetch toy, which stands up to a lot of use and has a handy rope attachment. Any of the Kong Wubba toys also are great in the water and dogs love them for shaking and tugging as well as retrieving.
- One of the more unusual shapes of floating retrieve toy is the Kurgo Skipping Stones, which look and act exactly like skipping stones, other than they're made of bright neon plastic. These are a great choice for play at a lake or large pond.
Flyers and Frisbees
Another option for retrieval training and play is a flyer-type toy, of which Frisbee is the classic choice. These toys "fly" or glide through the air and can reach further distances than toys that you have to toss, especially if you don't have a lot of upper body strength. As with the tossing retrieve toys, make sure your dog is able to swim safely out to the distance you would send a flyer and that your dog also is well trained to come when called at a distance.
- West Paw's Zogoflex Zisc Frisbee claims to be nearly indestructible and works just like a regular Frisbee but is softer. It comes in several neon colors and it's a good choice for a dog that loves to jump in a lake and retrieve but also is a strong chewer and rough on toys.
- Chuckit! has a Paraflight toy that is lightweight and floats and is easy to see with its bright neon green coloring.
- They also make an Amphibious Flying Ring that sails even further through the air for dogs that can safely retrieve at a distance in the water.
Sprinkler Dog Toys
A good old-fashioned sprinkler that you plug in on your lawn can be loads of fun for a dog to run around in and chase the water. Some toy makers have realized how much fun this is for dogs and have made sprinklers specifically for dogs.
- There are sprinkler toys that are built like a basic lawn sprinkler but made with pet friendly materials and attachments, such as dog toys, to attract a dog's attention and engage him in play.
- Another type of sprinkler toy is actually shaped like a toy meant for your dog to pick up and run with in your yard, such as the Waterbone, which is a plastic, bone-shaped sprinkler that hooks onto a hose. Just make sure you supervise play so that the dog doesn't try to grab the hose and chew it in his mouth!
- Buy a motion activated water fountain that hooks into your garden hose and shoots out water when your dog jumps on it. It serves as both a way for a dog to get a drink on a hot day and a source of amusement for a dog that loves seeing the water spray. All for Paws and Trio Gato are two types of these sprinklers available for dogs.
If you have a big swimming pool and enjoy lounging on a pool float, let your dog join in the fun with one made just for him.
- A dog float should be designed to be puncture proof to withstand your dog's nails. If you intend to use one, make sure you keep your dog's nails trimmed to lessen the stress on the float's fabric.
- A larger dog may have a harder time using a float because of his size, the float size and the difficulty in maintaining balance while getting onto the float.
- Always supervise a dog using a float in your pool. Even if they're "out" of the water when they're floating, they can fall off at any time and a dog can panic and drown if they can't figure out how to get out of the pool.
Of course, the ultimate water toy for your dog is a big pool of water just for him. If you don't have a pool or access to a natural body of water, a small dog pool is a fun option that's easy to set up and break down when needed.
- Dog pools come in foldable options and hard plastic shells.
- If you use a dog pool, make sure you keep the water clean after each use.
- You can even combine a dog pool with some water-friendly dog toys, such as tossing a ball into the pool for you dog to fetch or bat at with his paws.
Tips for Choosing a Water Toy for Your Dog
If you're trying to decide what type of toy is best for your dog, consider your dog's swimming strength and where you want to play.
Body of Water Type
If your dog is a strong swimmer and has an excellent recall, you can choose toys that can be tossed further. Likewise if your dog loves water but isn't the greatest swimmer, look for toys that you can throw for a short distance of a few feet so your dog can enjoy getting wet without risking himself in water that's too deep or too far. If you intend to go to an ocean or a large lake, a toy that has a hole or ring you can attach a rope to is a good idea because you can pull the toy back in if it gets too far out for your dog to swim too.
Some bodies of water may be "darker" and a toy on the surface will be harder to see. In this case look for a toy that's on the larger side, has some shape to it instead of just flat, and is brightly colored or even lights up.
If you have a dog that loves to fetch and only fetch, flexibility isn't an issue. But if your dog enjoys all different types of play, look for toys that will allow them to use it in different ways including tugging, shaking, and pouncing. Looks for toys that also will be just as much fun on dry land and in the house as out in a lake or in your pool (just make sure they're dry before your dog runs inside with them to play on the carpet!)
Some floating dog toys are made with neoprene, soft materials that are designed to float easily. The problem with these toys is they don't stand up to extreme chewing. If you have a dog with a "soft mouth" then these toys will be fine, but if your dog is an aggressive chewer, consider toys made of stronger materials like the heavy rubber of a Kong toy or any of the hard plastic bumper toys.
Using Dog Toys in the Water
Dogs that enjoy swimming will be overjoyed if your pair their water-loving nature with some water-friendly toys. Just make sure you choose a toy that's appropriate for the type of water you'll be at and for your dog's swimming skills and comfort level.