According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), 25- 30% of dogs are considered obese, and 45% of dogs over the age of 5 weigh more than they should. If dogs are overweight, they are susceptible to the same problems that humans are – high blood pressure, diabetes and heart conditions. This is why it is important to make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise. Getting your dog fit and healthy doesn’t just mean going for walkies – there are lots of other sports that you can do with your dog, getting you both out in nature. Watersports are excellent fun for both dogs and humans, and are also a great way of bonding.

Wild swimming

Going swimming in the lake or ocean is incredibly good for burning calories – your dog can burn between 500-700 calories an hour. It is worth noting however that not all dog breeds can swim. The flat-faced breeds like pugs and English bulldogs are not suited for swimming in water at all. Double-coated breeds however, like the Cocker Spaniel and Labrador Retriever generally love the water (in fact you will have trouble keeping them out). When you take your dog swimming, make sure that you are in shallow waters, in a place where it is safe, without an undercurrent or a lot of plant life below the surface.

Canoes and jet skis

Going out on a canoe can be a real adventure for you and your dog. If you are in a shallow stream or river, your dog may also enjoy having a little paddle alongside the canoe. Make sure that you have a way of securing your dog if you are taking them out on deeper waters, and only ever take one dog per canoe. If you are at the beach, learning to ride a jet ski is straightforward, and you can take an online course that teaches you about safety. Jet ski controls and steering are simple and you don’t need a specialist license, just make sure that you have a life jacket. If you are taking your dog on a jet ski, they will also need a lifejacket and a safety harness. Only smaller breed dogs are suitable to take on a jet ski, there isn’t enough space in front of you for a Great Dane to sit.

Surfing and windsurfing

Many dogs love to surf, and can even be trained to get up on the board and steer. Every year in Poole in Dorset, UK, and in San Francisco there are Dog Surfing Championships, for when your dog gets really good at the sport! If you are taking your dog surfing or windsurfing, make sure that you always stay in gentle waves – large rocks and swells are certainly not safe places to be out with your faithful friend. Surfboard leashes are not advised either, just stick close by with your dog and you can have some great fun together.

Enjoying some watersports is the ideal way to spend some time in the great outdoors and keep your dog fit and healthy. You can splash about, enjoy the waves and even take a tour of the coast on a jet ski.


About the Author: Now working as a writer, Jackie started her career as a veterinary nurse and has always been an animal lover –  but after becoming a mom refocused and decided to spend more time with her family. When she’s not writing, she volunteers for a number of local animal welfare charities and also has a menagerie of pets to look after, including a sparky whippet called Charlie.