Canine Water Sports is an organization that tests canine ability and desire to perform useful water work. However, the main purpose of the sport is to bring recognition to dogs who find joy working in the water, and to commend handlers who foster these natural and trained abilities while preserving the joy. Many of our water tests have their foundation in historic canine water service work, such as rescue, retrieving and courier duties. Other tasks, like the team swim, boat work and underwater scent searches are derived from modern canine work and recreational activities. Canine Water Sports events are open to any water loving dog ten months of age or older. The guidelines for this sport are easy to master. All of the water tasks are functional and fun to learn.

The main purpose of the sport is to bring recognition to dogs who find joy working in the water, and to commend handlers who foster these natural and trained abilities while preserving the joy."

Water training provides an excellent conditioning activity for your adventure-loving canine. It offers sensory stimulation and aerobic demand for the mind and body. The time shared and the positive teamwork stimulates the heart and soul of a healthy human-to-dog relationship, plus you can earn Merits, Certificates and Titles with your puddle pouncer. Imagine earning recognition awards for your dog's natural desire to play and work in the water!

Canine Water Sports is divided into three testing divisions: Single Tasks, Water Games and Community Service. Single Tasks and Community Service Titles are scored solely on a pass or fail basis. The dog/handler team is evaluated for technical and presentational aspects of a performance, which means happy, willing and confident dogs are recognized and rewarded for producing an inspiring performance. Handlers are honored for maintaining a happy and eager splash hound.

*Adopted from Canine Water Sports website

Leo Water Rescue

Farryn (Pat McDaniel) retrieves the bumper.

Leo Water Rescue

Manu (Dianna Parish) swims with momma at Heavenly Spa.

The three areas of splash challenge are:

1. Single Task Division - entry level work and up

Single Tasks are individual water exercises that vary in their degree of challenge and purpose. The Single Task Division has seven water performance categories. These categories are:

  • Team Swim
  • Retrieves
  • Deliveries
  • Submersion
  • Towing
  • Wet Scent Searches
  • Boating Skills

There are two sets of standards for these categories. Generally, the difference in the standards between the two groups is tow weight, retrieve article size and swim distance.

  • Group 1 - Giant, large, standard and medium sized dogs.
  • Group 2 - Miniature, toy, small, and dwarf dogs.

Getting Started

Each team must first pass the Team Swim test to be eligible for the other categories and divisions. Thereafter, handlers may select from any category and choose any Single Task from the Single Task Division. Passing a Single Task earns the team a Merit recognition award. When a team earns a Merit recognition award for all the tasks under one category, the team is entitled to a Certificate of water work for that category.

Team performance in the Single Task division is evaluated by a single judge who determines the passing score for the team.

Once a team has passed the a Team Swim test, they can move directly into the Water Games Division or they can have fun earning additional merits in the Single Task Division before entering the competitive waters.

2. Water Games Division - wet, wild and joyful competition

Here only the most skilled dog or team of dogs will win the game point. A team who wins a game point will enjoy applause, laughter and a deposit toward a Game Certificate Award. Games are also divided into two sets of standards based on dog size, Group 1 and Group 2.

The skills required to play the games in the Water Games Division are drawn from the various types of work performed in the Single Task Division.

Leo Water Rescue

Ruby gets a break from swimming and gets a tow by Martin.

3. Community Service Division - for advanced water dogs

There are three service work tests in this division:

  • Utility
  • Rescue
  • Underwater Scent Search

Each test has multiple tasks. The dog is required to complete the tasks consecutively and to pass each task for a title. Dogs are required to be of sufficient size, strength and fitness to perform the real life tasks required in each category.

There are two judges evaluating team performance, each having equal weight in the decision to pass the team.

The behaviors in the Single Task Division are the foundation for Canine Community Service water work. A team who would like to earn a water service title would benefit from mastering the skills in the Single Task Division.

Leo Water Rescue


Leo Water Rescue

Levi swims for the bumber (Karen Hantiak)