How to Paddleboard With Your Dog: 11 Quick Tips
Hopping on your paddleboard for a wonderful day or nature and exercise is something we all love to do. There’s almost nothing better. Well, there is one thing that’s better. Bringing your pup on the SUP!
Before you do that, you need to learn how to paddle board with your dog. Luckily, that’s not too tough any longer. Just follow the tips below and you’ll have a dog that loves to cruise open waters with you.
How to Paddle board With Your Dog: 11 Quick Tips
It wasn’t long after I started taking paddle boarding seriously that I thought about bringing my furry friend. My furball loves outdoor activities just as much as I do. We’ve gone on countless hikes and spent days upon days at the dog park just walking around.
So, I almost felt guilty when I went exploring on my paddleboard and didn’t offer to bring the little guy along. Then one day I was paddling around my favorite lake and I spotted a fellow paddler with what looked like a dog on the board.
What? I paddled over to see if this crazy gal had really brought her dog to paddleboard. She had! I was baffled and started thing if my furry friend could come along, too.
Well, I’m here to tell you he could and does. In fact, we go paddling often these days, as he loves to get a swim in every now and then.
After paddling with my pup for so long, I learned a few things. It definitely was a process at first. Eventually, we figured things out and now it’s like second nature. I figured out how to paddleboard with your dog.
Here’s a few tips so you can do the same:
1. Know Your Dog
Some dogs love the water. Other breeds absolutely hate it. If you have a dog that’s fond of the water, then go for it. If your dog absolutely hates swimming, then don’t push them. Dogs often get stressed out when outside their comfort zone.
Also, it’s harder to teach an old dog new tricks. While it may be cliche, you’ll have a tougher time training an old dog to go paddle boarding than you will a younger one.
Every dog is different. It may take some time and training to see if brining your pup on the SUP is worth it to you. Always take your furry friend’s feelings into account here. Your dog’s comfort level is way more important that any Instagram photo.
2. Find the Right SUP
The next most important thing? Finding a great SUP board for dogs. The fact of the matter is some paddleboards are absolutely ideal for paddle boarding with a dog. Other SUPs make the task near impossible.
If you’re confident your pup will love to SUP, then you should invest in one of the best paddleboard for dogs.
Typically, these are SUPs that:
- Longer boards, typically 11-13’
- Wide boards, generally 30” or more
- Thick boards, minimum of 6” thickness
- Rounded noses tend to work best, as this maximizes the size of the board
- Large traction pad to keep you and your furry friend on balance
Now, that may seem like a lot of specifications. Luckily, we did all the leg work for you. Over the years, my furry friend and I have tested out dozens of boards. We found some that worked really well and others that didn’t.
So, we put together a list of the best SUPs for dogs. Check it out here.
3. Let Your Dog Get Comfortable on the Board
If you pup has never ride, much less seen a SUP, you’ll need to allow him or her to get comfortable. This means brining the board inside the house and letting your dog see it for awhile.
Once the SUP isn’t new any longer, start placing a treat on the board where you’d want the dog to sit while you paddle. Encourage the dog to sit on the board. This will help your furry friend get comfortable and ready to ride the board while in the water.
4. Always Bring Treats
I’m not going to complicate this one at all! You always want to bring treats when taking your dog on a paddleboard. This will ensure you can garner your furballs attention when distractions are around.
Even while you paddleboard with your dog, you always want to continue training and reinforcing positive behavior.
5. Get Your Dog Swimming
Do not take your dog on the paddleboard if you haven’t taken your dog swimming before. Swimming is the first step, as there’s a 100% chance your dog ends up in the water when you’re out on the SUP.
The furball may slip, fall, jump, or dive into the water. It doesn’t matter how they get there - they’ll need to swim, even if they have a life vest on.
So, have your dog practice swimming for a little bit before you take him or her out on the SUP. Once your dog is comfortable sitting on the board at home and swimming in water, you shouldn’t have many issues when on a SUP with your pup.
6. Time to Train
Practice makes perfect. That means you need to train your dog as much as possible before hitting the water. Your dog needs commands for getting off and on the board before you hit the water.
With the board in your home, practice using “Off!” and “On!” commands with your dog. Place a treat on the board and have the dog sit next to the board. When you say “On!” have the furball get on the board and eat the treat. Then have the dog sit down on the board.
Place a treat on the ground about 2-4’ away from the board. Then say “Off!” to your furry friend. The dog should come eat the treat and sit. Do this for 15-20 minutes a few times a week before hitting the water with your dog.
It should go without saying, but your dog should have some obedience training before you bring the furball out on open waters.
7. Trim the Nails
Always trim your dog’s nails before you go paddle boarding. This will help your dog grip on the board and ensure the SUP doesn’t get scratched by your furry friend. A win-win!
If you need to trim your dog’s nails, we recommend these trimmers.
8. Always Wear Life Jackets
I’ll admit it. A dog life jacket looks pretty ridiculous. However, they are essential if you plan to bring your dog on a paddle board. You 100% need a dog life jacket if you want to SUP with your pup!
You may be thinking that your dog knows how to swim and a life jacket is unneeded. That’s what I thought first, too. Then my dog fell off the board for the first time and I had to lie flat on my stomach, reach my arms under his belly, and yank him out of the water by rolling halfway over.
We both smelled like wet dog for the next hour. Not a pleasant experience.
I needed to figure out a solution. Then I saw a picture of someone yanking a dog out of the water by a life jacket.
I started looking around and found that dog life jackets have handles on the back. These handles make it easy to pull the dog out of the water without straining yourself or hurting the dog.
I was sold. I order one and have been using it ever since. Dog life jackets make it 10X easier to pull your dog back on the paddleboard - even if your dog is a good swimmer.
This is the best dog life jacket I’ve found.
9. No Need For a Dog Leash
Do not bring your dog’s leash on the board. It will just cause problems for you. The leash can get tangled with the paddleboard cord. The leash can fall into the water. If you keep your dog on the leash while on a SUP, you could hurt them if they slip or jump in the water.
Just leave the leash on the shore or dock. It’s much easier and safer.
10. Hit the Water
Alright, it’s time to hit the water and SUP with your pup. You’ve done the training, you have the proper board and life vest, and your dog is confident around water.
Just do it! Bring your furry friend to your favorite paddle spot and command him or her to get on the board. You know how to paddleboard with your dog. You just have to do it.
11. Be Prepared to Fall
Last, but not least…
Be prepared to fall into the water. Your dog may leap off the board and throw you off balance. Your dog may demand an area on the board where you need to stand.
You never know what’s going to happen when you bring a dog on your paddle board. So plan to don a little swimming!
How to Paddle board With Your Dog
That’s it! Everything you need to know about how to paddle board with your dog. Just remember to be patient and enjoy the ride. Bringing my dog on my SUP is one of my favorite activities and I’m sure you’ll soon be a fan, too.
P.S: Don’t forget to check out the best SUP for dogs!