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SUP Boarding With Your Dog: How To, and Pro Tips


If you are a SUP boarder who has a dog then you have no doubt thought about ways to get your pooch out on the water with you. You have probably even seen other pet owners paddling out into the open water with their furry friends in front of them. But as you have likely gathered by any initial attempts of getting your dog to love swimming, getting a dog to love SUP boarding is much easier said than done, but it is definitely possible.

You can get your dog to love going out on your SUP board with you, but it will take time, patience, and diligence. It’s crucial you have a board that is long and sturdy enough for your pet. Try to start the dog training on the SUP board at a young age, get the dog comfortable with the board before training it, and bring plenty of treats along.

Your dog might not naturally love SUP boarding as much as you. In fact, it might take a lot of time and convincing to get your pooch on the board at first. But remember that training a dog to perform any major task is a long game that requires patience and consistency.

While it might take some time, once you get your dog trained, the pet is likely to be excited, and might even love gliding over the water on a SUP board just as much as you. Keep reading to learn the best way to train your dog to love SUP boarding, as well as tips to make it as safe and fun as possible.

Is It Safe To Take Your Dog Out On Your SUP Board?

A big question some dog owners might have is if it is even safe to take a pet out on a SUP board. After all, you might head out into some choppy water, or at the very least far enough offshore where it might be hard for a dog to swim safely. While SUP boarding can always pose potential safety issues, if you are careful and bring the right equipment, paddle boarding with your dog is a perfectly safe activity.

The key is to get your dog comfortable with the board, and the water. This will take some time and training - it isn’t always as easy as it appears when you see dogs taking naturally to SUP boarding on social media. The next step is to ensure the dog knows commands to safely get on and off the board. Lastly, a well-fitting and properly designed life jacket for both you and the dog will ensure that if anything does go wrong you are well-equipped to handle it. One way you can ensure SUP boarding is safe for your dog is by making sure you have the right board for this activity.

Design Features That Make Your SUP Board Dog-Friendly

While it is safe and even easy to SUP board with your dog given the proper training, some boards make it much easier than others. If you are seriously interested in taking your dog out with you on a SUP board, you should make sure you have a board that is equipped for this task. Otherwise, you might want to consider buying a board that is more suitable for you and your pooch. Some key design and structural elements you should look for in an ideal sup board for you and your dog are listed below.

Quality Deck Gripping

Make sure you have a board with good deck grips. Lots of boards have good grips, but not all. Make sure there is no slip, and ideally, a rubber pad where the dog can be comfortable, but also grip easily in case conditions get a bit wobbly. Not only is this safer, but it will also put your dog at ease, allowing it to relax while you paddle.

A Wide And Roomy Board

When it comes to picking a board shape for you and your dog, wider is usually better. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, wider boards often offer better stability and balance, which is always a plus. Further, a wider board allows more room for your dog to move around, sit and lay down. Increased space means increased comfort. As you surely know, a comfortable dog is a happy dog.

Proven Rigidity and Stability

Rigidity and stability are qualities you want from any SUP board, but these attributes are particularly crucial when paddling with a dog. If you are using an inflatable board, you want one that does not have the dreaded “taco” effect, when the board gives in under pressure. Try to find a board that maintains its rigidity under pressure, especially since it will be taking on increased weight with a dog.

Longer Touring and Tandem Boards Are Ideal

It is best to treat your dog like a second human passenger. This is true when it comes to safety and also how you pick a board. Usually, longer touring boards or a tandem board style is ideal. This becomes particularly important when you have a heavier dog. Often a longer board, 12’ or longer, is equipped to handle over 300, or even 400 pounds. Make sure you calculate the total weight you will take on before taking your maiden voyage with the dog.

Six Steps To Train Your Dog To Paddle With You

1. Start The Dog Young

One of the best ways to help get your dog comfortable with riding on your SUP board is by getting the dog on your board at a young age. Putting a puppy on a SUP board helps get it comfortable and desensitized early. This will often make the dog less fearful of water, splashing, and movement over the water. So if you are a SUP boarder who is getting a dog soon, or just got a dog, do your best to introduce paddle boarding as soon as you safely can.

2. Get Your Pet Comfortable Sitting On The Board (Out Of The Water)

Before you even think about bringing your dog out on the water, you first need to get your pet comfortable sitting on the board out of the water. One great way to do this is to bring the board in the house and set it in an area where the dog usually hangs out.

First, just put the board there, as just the presence of the foreign object will help get your dog used to the board itself. Next, get the dog excited to be on the board. The best way to do this is to put treats on the board. Once you do this, and the dog is sitting on the board without you even enticing it with a treat, you are ready to move on to commands and the water.

3. Make Sure Your Dog Is Not Afraid Of The Water

Before you get the dog excited to SUP board, you need to do something that is sometimes even harder - make your dog love the water. This is often a gradual process. The best way to do this is by having your dog around the water frequently. Avoid cold and choppy water when you are getting the dog comfortable swimming. See if there is a swimming pool that allows dog water training near you - as this is a great climate-controlled environment.

4. Teach Simple And Strategic Commands For Mounting And Riding

After you get the dog comfortable with the water and your SUP board, it is time to teach the dog commands. There is no limit to the number of commands you should teach your dog, but when it comes to SUP boarding there are a few essentials.
Make sure you teach your dog a command to mount the board, one to dismount the board, and one to sit still o the board. Sure, this is easier said than done, but once you master these three commands with your dog you should have very few difficulties SUP boarding with your pet.

5. Spend Time Standing and Sitting On The Board With Your Dog

It is also important to have some bonding time on the board. Remember this is not all about the dog getting comfortable on the board and the water, but also about the dog trusting you. Spend some time near the water, or floating next to the shore with your dog. This will help build trust and help your dog relax when you decide to paddle out further.

6. Bring Plenty Of Treats

Just like with any difficult task you face with your dog, always bring lots of treats. Treats will help train your dog to love SUP boarding, even if it is only because your pet knows it means lots of delicious snacks. Treats are also key to reinforcing your commands until they become second nature.

Five Tips To Make Paddling With Your Dog Fun And Safe

1. Make Sure You Get A Doggy Life Jacket With A Handle

The most important safety tip when it comes to SUP boarding with your dog is ensuring it has a reliable and well-designed life jacket. Make sure the dog PFD you choose for your pet does not inhibit its ability to swim. Furthermore, you should get a PFD that has a handle on its back so you can easily lift the dog out of the water or hold it in an emergency situation. Also make sure you bring a first aid kit for your dog as well as one for you.

2. Practice Near The Water Before You Go In The Water

Make sure you do a “dry run” before going out into the water. Get your dog in its life vest, bring the board to a dock or next to the water, and make sure the dog performs the commands. Once all this goes well and the dog responds well, you should be able to safely attempt the real thing.

3. Bring Toys, Treats, And Distractions To Avoid Boredom

Treats are not only essential for training your dog, but they also help keep your dog from getting bored and restless. For this reason, you should bring treats, dog bones, and floating toys. These are all great for longer rides when your dog is showing signs of boredom.

4. Choose Reliably Calm Water For The First Several Rides

Make sure you choose tranquil, easy, and safe conditions for the first few SUP journeys you take with your dog. This means looking for protected bays and choosing days with nice weather with very little wind or choppy seas. Once you have mastered these conditions, you can then think about taking the dog out further into slightly more rocky and windy conditions, but don’t push it too far too soon.

5. Use Easy And Safe Mounting Locations

Launching the board with your dog can make or break the experience. A rough and wobbly launch can make your dog jump off the board and refuse to get back on. So make sure you choose a very easy, stable, and relaxed launch location. The same goes for when you return. Ideally, you can find a sandy beach you can launch from and ride up to, so your dog can get on and off without having to get wet.

Final Advice On SUP Boarding With Your Dog

SUP boarding with your dog can be an amazing bonding experience for you and your pet. While this activity can be loads of fun for both of you it will take some patience and training to get to this point. Do your best to start the dog at a young age, and remember it is important to get the pooch comfortable with the board and the water before you start considering taking it on a SUP adventure. Teach the dog basic commands to get on and off the board, and make sure you always bring plenty of treats to reinforce good behavior and help prevent restlessness.


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