It’s regularly enjoyed as a solo pursuit, but for dog loving Paddle Boarders, does it have to be this way? For those with particularly energetic pooches, this may not seem like a realistic prospect, but with our guide on getting out on the water with your dog as a passenger, your SUP experience may just be about to reach a new level.
What you’ll need
- A Dog-friendly Stand-Up Paddle Board. An unsurprising one to start with. If you are keen to get your furry friend out on the water with you, it makes sense to be careful about the SUP you choose. SUP built for racing and speed is very narrow. Do not choose one of these. The best paddleboards for paddle boarding with a dog are wider with a pointy nose. This will give you and your dog plenty of stability without losing speed. It’s also thought that because of the excellent traction they offer inflatable SUPs are the best option for Doggy Paddle Boarding. Check out our Inflatable SUP range here. (And no, your dog’s paws won’t pop the inflatable SUP.)
- A Quality, Long Traction Pad. Make your SUP x Pooch experience that much easier by picking up a traction pad made of an Ethylene-vinyl acetate, also known as EVA. This is a non-slip material, giving you and your dog a rubber-like feeling and grip beneath your fit, as well as othering flexibility and is soft to the touch. Even more useful it’s very resistant and resilient to cracks from the impact of saltwater and UV.
- Human and Dog Sized Life Jackets. If you’ve been out on SUP before, it’s very likely (or it should be anyway) that you already have your own life jacket. However, have you thought about one for your dog? Paddleboarding takes you across all different types of water and with both you and your travel accomplice properly protected, you can look forward to a much safer day on the water. When selecting your dog’s life jacket, make sure you choose one that has the handle on the top, as this will make it much easier to lift them back on board if they go into the water. There are a number of good options available online for Dog Life Jackets, and if you need to pick up a new, human-sized one, it’s certainly worth checking out our range.
Finally, if you’re taking out any expensive equipment, it may also be worth picking up a floatation device for those items too.
Doggy treats for good dog behaviour! As a dog owner, you’ll know the importance of this when training your dog, and life out on the SUP will be no different.
How to introduce your dog to Paddle Boarding
Let your dog get used to the SUP by placing it on the floor at home. It’s natural for your pooch to feel suspicious of something as big as a SUP. By having the board lying around, your dog will be able to take their time adjusting to the size and shape of it, sniffing it, and scoping it out. There’s a good chance they won’t step on it during the early stages.
Put a treat on the Paddle Board. This will help encourage them to step onto the board. Try doing this a few times a day. If your dog seems resistant, take it a little slower. If they do it easily, try creating a good relationship with your dog and the SUP, so they know that a treat means it’s time to get onboard. Once this is working nicely, try it with your dog wearing the lifejacket.
Your dog will need to understand basic commands. Obviously, this is generally a good pointer to just owning a dog, but once they are comfortable with sitting on the SUP, they need to understand how to also get off the board. Of course, this is different for every owner, but having a way of easily getting the dog on and off the board is an important part of their Paddleboard introduction.
Practice sitting and standing with your dog aboard. Now that your dog is comfortable chilling out on your board, it’s time to make them comfortable with you on the board. Do this by asking your dog to get on board, and then once it’s comfortable, sit down behind them. If they stay in place, give them a treat. Some dogs may not be comfortable with this. If this is the case, make the process a little slower. However, once they are adjustable and comfortable, try standing up on the SUP. Once they’re okay with that, use your feet to rock the board back and forth a little bit, telling your dog to stay whilst you do it. At first, they’ll more than likely jump off but after a while, you’ll be able to keep them sitting still and only jump off when you want them to. Also, check the length of your dog’s nails before you head off to the water, and maybe give them a trim. It’s incredibly unlikely that they’ll be long enough to pierce your inflatable SUP, but it’s better to be safe than sinking.
How to Paddle Board with your dog
Make sure you are confident enough Paddle Boarding alone. Although it may sound obvious, it's really important. Being able to push yourself along on a SUP is something that for many takes some time, and to attempt to do it with your dog abroad after only a couple of tries is the perfect way to have a terrible day on the water. For more information on how to get used to life on a SUP, check out our article on PLAY.
Test out your dog’s swimming abilities. For many dog owners, it can be harder to keep your dogs away from the water than trying to coax them in for a splash around. Many dogs love swimming, but if you are going to head on potentially choppy waters, it’s certainly worth seeing how comfortable your dog actually is with swimming. If they’re not, maybe spend some time throwing a ball around near the body of water you intend to paddle around, and they should be happy in the water in no time.
Once you’re by the water, go through the introductory steps again. It’s about making your furry friend feel as comfortable as possible, so it may mean reintroducing them to the SUP, and how it is going to be out on the water. It needn’t take long, just make sure they reaffirm their confidence with the board. If you’ve got a particularly energetic dog, you should do a few normal activities before going out on the board, so it is tired and chilled when it’s time to paddle.
Push the boat out to the water. Expect watery tumbles early on, but once you’ve taken all the necessary steps, the only real way to get you and your dog used to SUP life is by getting out on the water. If they seem distressed, don’t force them out, but do what you can to encourage and put them at ease.
Keep your strokes deep and powerful and stay attentive. Even if your dog is totally relaxed on the board, you’ll need to keep an eye out Dogs can be inquisitive, and if they make a sudden movement to look at something in the water you’ll need to work, being on your toes and ready to adjust your balance could make the difference between you and your dog falling into the water and things moving smoothly.
Top tips for Paddle Boarding with a dog
Wear sunscreen, and make sure your dog does too! You may not know this, but doggy suncream exists. While making sure that you are correctly protected from the sun is of course important, but if your pooch is going to spend several hours lying on your SUP, then it’s vital you make sure they have the correct lotion too. The spots you want to aim for are your dog’s tummy, ears, and noses. It could be the difference between your furry friend having a good day and a very bad one. Also try to stay clear of any zinc oxide or Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) based creams, as they are known to be harmful to dogs.
Hazard on the horizon? Kneel or sit down. It’s quite dependent on where you are paddling, but there’s a good chance you’ll come across an obstacle or two during your journey. These usually come in the form of branches, but there could sometimes be rocks or sea buoys. In each of these situations, the best solution is to get down low. This is first to stop you from hitting your head, but also the lower you are, the better balance you have. It will also decrease the chances of toppling over and creating a potentially scary situation for your dog.
Be aware of your surroundings. Continuing on from the previous point, it’s a good idea to have a good sense of not only what’s in front of you such as weather, tides, and water swells, but also what’s below you, including shallow water, reefs, or any potential angry marine life. You of course don’t want your dog falling into any scenarios that are potentially dangerous.
Bring a first aid kit. It’s good common sense with humans, so why not with your dog? Injuries can happen anywhere and being able to quickly clean up cuts when paddling in potentially unclean water is a good option. Even if it’s a bad injury, it’ll give you some time until you get home or to a vet. Check out our first aid kit range right here.
Clean your board, wash your dog after (not necessarily in that order). Always worth washing your dog down after they’ve been in the water, due to the number of unhealthy bacteria that could be in the water. It’s for a similar reason you should do this for your SUP too. This will also add to the lifespan of the board.
Never leave your dog in the car. You’re probably already aware of this, but it’s especially important during the summer months. Leaving your dog in an unfiltered car can lead to them becoming quickly dehydrated and create a difficult situation for them. Unfortunately, if your dog doesn’t seem keen on the paddleboarding adventure once they are by the water, it’s not an option to just leave them in the car and head off. You’ll need to head home and rethink your next SUP adventure.