You like stand up paddling and love your dog? Then what better way than to experience a paddleboard adventure together. Of course, the idea is very romantic to paddle leisurely through nature together with your dog on the board and have a great time. However, it can be a challenge to convince your four pawed friend of this notion.
This guide will help you teach your dog to ride on the SUP easily and safely, and will be fun for both of you. However, a first tip up front, the more skilled you are as a paddler, the easier it will be together with your dog.
1. The Right Board For SUPing With a Dog
Even though there are even special boards for paddling with dog, it is not mandatory. However, make sure that your SUP is adapted to the size of your dog. Even a bigger dog should have enough space to turn well and take a comfortable position. Also, the maximum load of the board should be well above the total weight of the paddler and dog.
Longer and wide boards help you to be stable in the water and gain safety. Ideal for these needs are wide all-round boards, white water and SUP boards for yoga.
In addition, make sure that your dog has a good grip on the surface. Therefore, inflatable iSUPs with their plastic shell have a slight advantage over hard shell boards with an extremely smooth deck. However, even with iSUPs it is still better if the EVA deck pad covers the entire standing surface. If this is not the case with you, there are so-called dog mats which are attached to the board and ensure a safe stand of the dog. Alternatively, for the do-it-yourselfers among you, an old yoga or bath mat can be used.
One question many ask is whether inflatable SUPs in particular will not be damaged by the dog’s claws. To reassure you, we can say that the modern boards are built very sturdy and suffer at most superficial scratch marks.
2. Accustom The Dog To Swimming
Sounds obvious, but not all dogs are naturally good swimmers. Therefore, you should make sure your dog knows how to swim and is comfortable in the water.
For safety’s sake, not only paddlers but also dogs should wear life jackets. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, there can always be an emergency situation. The dog should also be accustomed to the vest and swimming with it first.
3. Familiarize The Dog With The Board
First, familiarize your dog with the SUP at home. Put the board on the floor in a room where he feels comfortable for a week. Let the dog sniff it and explore on his own. No problem if he doesn’t jump on it right away – just let him get used to it.
After an initial acclimation period, you can also encourage your dog to go and sit on the board with treats. Be patient and don’t force anything. The board should be fun for the dog.
As a next step, you can get the dog used to standing on the board with a life jacket. The more this situation is practiced, the more natural it will feel for your dog outside in a different environment.
4. Mounting And Dismounting Outdoors In Nature
Before going into the water, practice getting up and down on command. To do this, go outside in the grass. Practice specific commands for mounting and dismounting and reward him when he follows them correctly.
The key to getting your dog on the water is patience. You just have to keep trying and trying. If you give up too soon or build up pressure, you will not get the dog stable on the board.
Also practice getting on while standing where you are going to paddle and get the dog used to his place. Rock gently back and forth to mimic rocking on the water and praise your dog when he stays steady on the board.
It is important that you are safe together on the board and that your dog follows all commands correctly. Because if he jumps off at the wrong moment, it will usually cause you to lose your balance as well, which can be dangerous, especially in shallow water.
5. Into The Water
Finally, you can take all that you’ve practiced into the water. Again, take it nice and slow, step by step, and practice everything you’ve learned while kneeling in shallow water. This step may take a little longer because the water offers a lot of distraction.
Once both are ready and you can safely paddle on your knees, try standing up in deeper water.
It may not work out perfectly the first time, but it’s all part of the process. Be prepared for your dog to jump off at any time. Therefore, only stand up in deeper water and stay away from hazards such as boats or people. If your dog has fallen or jumped into the water, help him back onto the board. Life jackets usually have a handle you can pull him up on.
Back on shore, you both definitely deserve a proper reward. We wish you a lot of fun and beautiful moments together with your dog on the SUP.