Stand-up paddleboarding with your dog is a great way to explore and enjoy nature whilst spending some quality time with your pup. No longer does your best friend have to stay on the shore, they can be right by your side as you glide through the water! Below are some tips for you and your dog to have an amazing and safe adventure.
1. Introduce your dog to the paddle board
The first tip is to introduce your dog to the dog-friendly paddle board before there is any water in sight. Preparing your dog before the trip is key to getting them comfortable with the board and activity. I recommend placing it in an open area like a yard or driveway and allowing your dog to naturally enquire about it.
Give your dog a reward whenever they interact with the paddle board and paddle to build a positive association. Encourage them to climb on and sniff the board and reward them in the process.
If this is your first time trying out stand-up paddleboarding, and you are renting the board, then try to arrive a little earlier so you have time to introduce your dog to the board and paddle before you head out onto the water.
2. Practice the commands used during stand-up paddleboarding
Now that your dog is familiar with the paddle and board, it's time to start practicing the commands they'll need whilst on the water. These will keep them safe and prevent them from jumping off the board.
The "sit-stay" command is used to ask your dog to sit on the board and stay in their position. As you teach this command, try walking over and around the board, making sure they stay in their position. Your goal is to be able to walk away from the board without them jumping off.
The "down-stay" command is used to ask your dog to lie down on the board and stay in their position. This is a good command to have if your dog is a little uneasy on the board. By having them lie down, they will feel more balanced when you are paddling along which will make jumping off less likely.
The "release" command is used to let your dog know they are allowed to jump off of the board. As you paddle back to shore, they will likely want to jump off and swim the last bit. This can be dangerous if there are rocks or debris under the board that they could hurt themselves on. It's important that they know they can only leave the board when they are given this command.
3. Practice SUP movements
Now you have the commands down, it's time to practice the movements you will use during your SUP adventure. Get on the board yourself and ask your dog to join, giving them the “sit-stay” command.
In the kneeling position, with your dog in place, slowly start to move the paddle over their head from side to side. These are the paddling movements you will be using so it's important they are comfortable with having the paddle move over and around their head and body.
Once they are comfortable with this motion, try to hit the paddle off of the board to make the noises that they will hear during your trip. They will be less likely to jump into the water if they are comfortable with the loud noises that naturally happen whilst stand-up paddleboarding.
4. Getting on and off of the paddle board
With all of that preparation done, it's now time to head to the water! Getting on and off of the paddle board can be tricky with a dog but there are a few tricks to keep you balanced and safe on the water.
Place the paddle board in the water, half in and half out, with the front facing the shore.
Get on the board first, facing the shore, and get into the kneeling position.
Ask your dog to get on and give them the “sit-stay” or “down-stay” command, and keep them close to your body so they feel reassured.
With your paddle, gently push off from the shore and out into the water.
Stay in the kneeling position until you feel comfortable standing up, this may take a couple of trips.
When returning to shore, get back into the kneeling position and give your dog the “sit-stay” or “down-stay command.”
Paddle until the nose of the board hits the shore and the board is stable enough for you to get off.
With your dog still in the stay position, gently climb off the board and when it is safe to do so, give your dog the "release" command so they know they can jump off too.
5. Bring the right gear
There are a couple of items to remember to bring with you for your SUP trip:
Fresh water for your dog to drink
Up-to-date dog tags
Towels for after
6. Play beforehand
The final tip for SUP with your pup is to play with your dog in the water before you go paddling to tire them out! Bring along some water toys which they can fetch from the water or allow them to have a swim beforehand. This will tire them out so they are much more relaxed in the water and not likely to jump off and have a swim on their own.
SUP with your pup can be an incredible experience for both you and your dog. With the right commands and preparation, as well as a life jacket and some treats, you'll have an amazing time together on the water. So grab your paddle and your dog and enjoy the great outdoors!
Hannah is the proud dog mom of Makai, a Wolfdog with a penchant for naps and snacks. Hannah has a strong love for all animals but a special fondness of dogs. With a Masters degree in Chemistry and a love for writing, Hannah aims to share the latest scientific studies and expert knowledge with dog lovers worldwide through her blog Howling Wolf Pack.