Stand Up Paddleboarding with your Pup
By. Steven Hartman
As you’re about to head out the door and down to the lake, your dog gives you that look that makes it hard to leave him behind. If you’re gearing up to go stand up paddle boarding then how about taking your dog with you?
Spending time under the sun on the water is a lot of fun but adding your dog into the mix can make it an even more incredible experience. Bonus: He’s not cooped up all day possibly eating the side of your couch!
Before you take the dog to the water, here are a few tips to get them prepared so that they are ready to go SUPing with you.
1) The Introduction
The first step is to get your dog used to the board. The best way to do this is to bring the board into the home and set it down in the living room or some open room where the dog is free to roam. If you don’t have the indoor space you can use the garage or the backyard – just make sure to put it away when you’re done so that your dog or any other neighborhood animals don’t go to the bathroom on it or use it as the world’s most expensive chew toy.
Let your dog check out the board. They’ll sniff around and maybe even walk on it.
Place a treat on the board so that they have to physically get on the board and get rewarded for doing so. Tell them to sit and stay.
The next step is to work on commands for the dog to hop on and off the board. These should be words that aren’t currently associated with the dog (ex: “Sit”, “Stay”, “Stop begging for a piece of hamburger!”).
Words like “Board” or “On” may work as will “Off” or “Down” if you aren’t currently using that for when they hop up on the couch.
Reward accordingly so they pick up these meanings then you can ease up on the treats.
3) The Practice Run
Real world practice is the next step. Make sure your dog is in their life jacket and then get on the board with them. Do things like rock the board so they get the feel and work on the commands. Dogs aren’t fans of not having a sure-footing so this will help get them accustomed to the board rocking on the water.
You’ll also want to use your SUP Paddle so that they get used to the idea of you swinging a paddle by them and into the water.
There may be a comfort learning curve so be patient with each step. One way to start off is to sit on the board without the dog, then command him onto the board. This is better than standing on the board and them leaping up on their own.
4) SUP with Your Pup!
Before going full force into the water, you’ll want to practice all the steps near the water or in a very, very shallow part of the water. Start kneeling down which will give you greater balance and allow you to be close with your dog. If things are looking good then head out into the water. Keep this first journey short and work on commands so that your dog feels comfortable on the Stand Up Paddleboard.
Is your board slippery? Consider having a pad or even a bath mat so that your dog feels sure-footed. This will also help keep your board protected too. Nails should be trimmed so that they don’t scratch up your board.
Accept that your dog may or may not like this activity or that they may not be the type of dog who wants to partake or even able to. A Bull Mastiff or St. Bernard may not be very SUP-friendly whereas labs or smaller dogs will probably be able to share the board with you. Speaking of which, make sure that there’s plenty of room for both you and your dog on the board.
Safety is always key especially with your dog. It’s highly recommended that your dog is wearing a proper PFD. Learn more about pet life jackets so you get the proper one for your dog.
A leash is advisable at least at first to help your dog feel secure but the world seems mixed on whether or not you should leash your dog while on the Stand Up Paddleboard – most of the time it’s a judgement call but there are some parks that require that your dog be leashed. It’s recommended that you don’t have the leash around the dog’s neck but rather on their PFD.
Finally, your dog may want to jump off the board. Whether in the middle of the lake or close to shore where they might want off the board ASAP, they might make the leap. As you near the dock or the shore, get back into that kneeling position in order to maximize balance in case they jump and rock the board.
Now that you know all the info, you can bring along your puppy on your next SUPing excursion. What are you waiting for? Go out there and enjoy the sun and water with your best friend.