There’s no reason why you can’t take Fido along on your paddleboarding adventures whether you usually paddleboard alone or with the whole family. It will be fun for you as well as for your four-legged friend. However, it is important to introduce them to the board properly, be safe about paddleboarding with your dog, choose the right board, and most importantly, have fun.
Let’s first look at how to introduce your dog to paddleboarding so you can start the process.
Introducing Your Dog to Paddleboarding
Following the proper steps to introducing your dog to the water, to the board, and to getting on the board in the water, is crucial if you want them to enjoy the sport as much as you do. However, the steps are simple.
Step 1: Let Them Explore the Board in a Non-Threatening Environment
If you have the paddleboard laying out in the open in a place that the dog frequents, such as the middle of the living room floor perhaps, they will feel free to examine it in their own time. They will smell it, stand on it, and may even lay on it as they feel comfortable claiming it as part of their domain.
Step 2: Use Treats
Dogs thrive on positive reinforcement. Let them know that this new thing they see is something good by giving them a treat to go along with it.
Step 3: The Life Vest or PFD (Personal Floatation Device)
Just like humans, dogs need to wear a PFD, or personal floatation device. Safety is key when you’re on the water and if you are taking safety measures for yourself you need to take them for your furry friends too.
Step 4: Teach Commands
Your dog should know simple commands for getting on and off of the SUP board. They hear the words “on” and “off” so many times so these should be words specific to getting on and off a paddleboard. You can use noises or whistle sounds as well, if you’d like.
Step 5: Motions
Once they are comfortable standing on the board and wearing their PFD, stand them on the board where they will be when you are in the water. Stand in the proper place, which is near the middle where you can balance yourself properly. Grab the paddle and make the motions you will be making in the water. While the motions will be more exaggerated when you get to the lake or river, this will start to simulate the rocking motion and get them comfortable with it.
Step 6: Get Comfortable with Water
Take them to the water and let them splash around if they aren’t already comfortable with it. Make sure they are comfortable going out farther than the shoreline by going out farther and farther in slow increments (wearing the PFD, of course).
Step 7: Start Out Slow
Stick to the shallows but start paddleboarding with your dog by slowly moving around on the water and see how they do. Use treats to positively reinforce doing well on the board. If they fall, encourage them with love so they feel comfortable trying again.
Step 8: Have Fun!
This can be a long process but once they are comfortable you can have a lot of fun paddleboarding with your dog!
Safety is Important When Paddleboarding With Your Dog
I cannot stress enough that your dog should always be wearing a PFD when near the water. However, if the PFD is not properly fitted, it’s not going to work. If it’s too tight, they will be uncomfortable and stiff. If it is too loose, they will slip right out of it. And if it is not rated for their weight, it won’t hold them up in the water should they need it to. Take the time to find the right PFD for your pet and make sure it is adjusted correctly.
Just like you wear sunscreen to keep from getting cooked while on the water, your pet needs it too. The ears and muzzle are the most common places for a dog to get sunburned but if your dog has sensitive skin, short hair or is shaved close, or has very light-colored hair they will need sunscreen to keep from getting burned. Make sure the sunscreen you use is approved for animals or you ask your veterinarian for a recommendation on which one you should use.
Many paddleboarders have found that inflatable SUP boards work better when paddleboarding with your dog because the top surface has a slight give to them which gives your pet a better surface to stand on. You will also need to make sure the board is long enough to accommodate both you and your pet when standing.
Remember that if your dog is not comfortable around water at all or is actually afraid of water, you shouldn’t attempt to teach them to go paddleboarding. It can be dangerous for both them and you.
Up Next: Getting on the Water!
It’s time to head out to the nearest lake, calm river, or pond and see how your canine friend likes the SUB boarding lifestyle. You might just enjoy your paddleboarding trips a bit more with Fido around and I’m sure they will enjoy spending more quality time with you as well while getting outside. Have fun!