Nothing beats a trip to the water park on a hot, summer day. Although you might hit up the water park with friends and family, your four-legged companions usually can’t tag along.
So, when the pavement heats up during the dog days of summer, spoil your pooch by transforming your backyard into his personal dog water park. Even better, create his own “Backyard Water Bark.”
Whether your dog’s a swim-aholic who loves to dive right in or a reluctant water hound who prefers to only get his paws wet, there are many ways to create a splashing good time for your furry best friend. At-home water park adventures with your dog are just a hose hook-up away.
Start With Safety
This “Backyard Water Bark” is meant to be all about fun. But before the fun begins, you must understand the importance of supervising each activity.
Accidents can happen quickly, particularly with wet elements, so keep a constant eye on your dog when he’s playing in or around water. Watch out for parts of play equipment that can become pressurized and shoot off, and be aware of inflatables that can get snagged by claws or become chewing targets.
Now, here’s how to help your pet stay cool this summer with his very own dog water park.
Water Park Attractions
A water park is not a water park without attractions. Your dog will know this isn’t an average pool day when he sees multiple attractions set up—just for him!
There’s something for everyone in the wave pool area at a water park. You can splash around in the waves, take a dip in the deep end or relax by the shore.
The “pool zone” for your dog at home can be a go-to spot for him to play in or relax in. Create this zone by a) using your own backyard pool or b) purchasing a dog pool, like the KOPEKS outdoor dog swimming pool.
Encourage your pup to get active in the pool zone with some water toys for dogs, like the Chuckit Ziplight disc toy. This sturdy floating toy can be used for tugging, fetching or modified dock diving.
Note: Even though you know swimming is a good time, never force your dog to enter the pool if he’s reluctant. Give him time to adapt to the water; if opts out, that’s OK! Learn how to safely introduce your dog to the pool.
Although water park playgrounds are designed for the little ones, we all know that everyone loves to head there for a splash! Rotating lawn sprinklers can get the job done at home, but sprinklers designed for human kids can really turn up the fun level in your dog’s own “puppy playground.” The moving water element is a blast for dogs, and the unpredictability of when and where the water comes out takes splash time to the next level.
If you can’t find a sprinkler made for kids at a local store, you can purchase a sprinkler attachment for your hose and splash your dog yourself. Fetch-loving dogs might enjoy chasing balls through the rain showers, and a ball launcher, like the Nerf tennis ball launcher, gives pet parents extra throw-power through the waterfall.
A water park isn’t complete without a variety of play features. Combining agility equipment with a sprinkler mist can add that dynamic action for your at-home dog water park.
Set up a simple DIY dog agility course for your pup to run through, and then help your doggo make his way through the course. Your pet could start off with a dash through the Cool Runners dog tunnel, then weave through the Trixie agility dog training poles while the sprinkler provides a refreshing mist. Next, your dog could leap over the Trixie dog training hurdle. To finish off, he can dive through the Trixie agility dog ring and then jump into his swimming pool to cool off.
Water Park Games
Once your dog has cooled off at the pool zone, take him over to the game section for some fun, mentally stimulating activities.
Beach Treasure Hunt
Give your pooch a chance to dig for buried treasure in his very own sand pit. Simply fill a kiddie pool (or a second dog pool) with a few bags of play sand from a local home improvement store, bury a few dog toys, like the All Kind no squeak dog toy, and let the digging commence.
Pro tip: Make clean-up a snap by placing a plastic tarp underneath the pool to easily return the sand that gets kicked out.
Bobbing for Apples and Other Treats
This silly and refreshing game encourages your dog to dunk his face to grab a tasty treat. First, fill an appropriately sized receptacle with fresh water. You can use a bucket for taller dogs or a 6-inch-high underbed plastic storage container for petite pups.
Next, toss in some cored and deseeded apples. Mix it up by adding other fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables that are safe for dogs to eat, like strawberries and banana bits. Some food might float along the surface, while others sink to the bottom and encourage your pup to do some underwater exploration.
In between attractions and game breaks, treat your dog to snacks at his own refreshment station. He’ll know these special goodies mean that it’s not an average day at the pool.
At the Pupsicle Stand, your pooch can enjoy a frozen “pupsicle” to help keep him cool while he’s enjoying his outdoor oasis.
Pupsicle Dog Treat
To make the pupsicle, simply fill an ice cube tray with equal parts low-sodium chicken broth and water, and add a bone-shaped biscuit, like the True Acre biscuit dog treats, into each reservoir to create a handle. Then place it in the freezer for about three hours.
Note: Ice pops are safest for your dog when enjoyed slowly with lots of licks. Redirect your dog if he tries to chomp down on the ice, as he could fracture a tooth.
At the end of a long day of swimming in the sun, it’s a good idea to relax with a cool drink. Sure, your dog probably will take frequent hydration breaks from the fresh water you provide (the wading pool isn’t a water bowl!), but you can level-up his refreshment with a personalized pup-smoothie at the Smoothie Station.
Berry Smoothie Dog “Drink”
Blend 1 cup of plain yogurt, ½ cup of strawberries and a ½ cup of blueberries and serve it to your dog in a dog bowl. If you’re lucky, your dog might even share some with you!
When the tummy starts growling during a day at the water park, you know it’s time to head to the Poolside Grill. Since your pup should have options like you would at any water park, we’ve whipped up two dog-friendly treats to serve at the grill: a cheeseburger and a hot dog, of course.
Cheeseburger Dog Treat
This DIY dog treat looks like a mini cheeseburger and is the type of treat you’d expect to get at a water park grill (if you were a dog). Get the DIY cheeseburger dog treat recipe here.
Hot Dog Treat
If the mock cheeseburgers weren’t enough, these DIY hot dog treats are another perfect menu option for your pet’s at-home grill. Get the DIY hot dog recipe here.
There’s nothing quite like getting creative with your dog and dreaming up ways to have DIY summertime fun. Bonding with your canine in his very own dog water park guarantees a good time; and at the end of the day, you should have a happily exhausted pup!
Victoria Schade has been a dog trainer and writer for over 17 years. Her dog duties have included working on Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl as the lead animal wrangler, appearing on two seasons of the Animal Planet show Faithful Friends, creating dog training content and appearing in videos for a variety of sources, and writing two dog training books, Bonding With Your Dog and Secrets of a Dog Trainer.