Paddle boarding with your dog is a great way to enjoy nature with your best friend while floating on the water. However, it’s not always easy to take your dog with you on a Stand Up Paddle Board.
Before you take your pet out on the water, it is important that you have prepared yourself correctly. This makes the dog feel at home on the paddle board and in an environment surrounded by water, which of course is not normally the case.
Even more importantly, you can paddleboard pretty well yourself before you risk it with your dog. Paddle boarding is easy to learn, anyone can do it with a little practice.
The more experienced you are and the more stable you are on the board, the easier it becomes for your buddy.
To make it easier for him, the dog must:
- Already be good at swimming
- Directly follow commands and orders
- Not too easily be distracted
- Not weigh more than 45 kg
Below is a step-by-step guide that will help you prepare your dog for Stand Up Paddle Boarding.
1. Make sure that your dog is accustomed to swimming
Not all dogs are swimmers by nature. There are even some breeds that can’t even swim and because of their body structure they can easily become overheated in the sun.
These include: Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Boxers, Pug dogs and a few other breeds. If your dog is one of these breeds, you will first need a life jacket for your dog.
In fact, it is always advisable to put a life jacket on your dog before you stand on a paddle board, even if he or she can already swim.
Preferably choose a dog life jacket with a loop on it, which allows you to easily lift the dog back onto the board. After that, the dog must learn to swim.
Follow these steps:
Make sure the paddle board you have is big enough to take your dog with you. It is possible that a large German shepherd will not easily fit on your paddle board, especially if you have a smaller board such as a Aqua Marina Vapor or Aqua Marina Breeze.
For such large dogs, you need a board of at least 3 meters long (9’8″), which is also somewhat larger in width. This gives the dog more stability and is also more comfortable for you.
When choosing a paddle board, dogs prefer soft surfaces because they are less slippery and they do not slide. Inflatable paddle boards give the dog a solid surface to stand on and are therefore a very good alternative to hard boards.
2. Take the paddle board in the house so that the dog becomes familiar with it
In which room in the house does the dog prefer to stay? Put the board on the floor for a week. This way the dog can become familiar with the paddle board. It is inevitable that the dog will become curious about the board. Depending on the personality of your dog, this step gives you a good idea of how difficult or easy it will be to get your dog on a paddle board in the water.
3. Train with your dog to hop on the board and get off again
This is the most important step. After a week the dog will be familiar with the board. Now it’s time to teach your dog to get on and off the board.
Please note: Before you go paddle boarding with your dog it must have already completed an obedience training once and listen carefully to commands.
Take your dog’s favourite snack with you and stand on the board. Place the snack where the dog should stand.
Always connect a command to what you want the dog to do, for example “Jump on it” so the dog gets familiar with these new commands.
When the dog does what you want, reward him with a snack and let the dog know that he has done exactly what you wanted.
Now it is time to teach the dog a command to get off of the SUP board again, for example “Get down”. Again reward the dog with a snack when he gets off the board.
Repeat this several times a day for a whole week. Once the dog has learned this, it is time to take the next step.
If your dog refuses to cooperate, make the training more fun and cheerful for the dog. The dog will probably react better to this than a very strict approach.
Continue slowly with this training and in the long run the dog will be able to go on the board and come off again on command.
4. Standing on the paddle board and putting it into practice
Now it is time to put what has been learned into practice and to take the paddle board out into the open.
Start on a flat surface, preferably on grass. Use the same commands as you used to do in the house to get the dog on the board and off again.
Because it now concerns a different environment, the dog can be distracted. Perhaps you will have to try several times before it goes as well on the grass as it did before in the house.
If your dog manages to go on the board and get off again, then stay on the spot where you would stand during stand up paddle boarding also.
Does your dog also remain on the spot where he should stand if you float on the water, then reward him again with a tasty snack.
Most dogs will only jump on and off at the beginning. Also try to wobble the board a little to imitate the movement of the waves.
The dog will understand that it is normal and will not jump off immediately.
If the dog also passes this test, stand on the board and paddle in the air, so that the dog becomes familiar with this movement.
5. Now it’s time to search for your favourite paddle board location.
You’ve finally made it! Take your dog to the water and practice all the above steps again. You can also try it out directly in shallow water.
It may take a little longer before this step succeeds and your dog feels comfortable on the water.
Do you feel that your dog no longer has a problem with the water? Then it’s time to put on your life jacket and look for deeper waters.
Keep your first trip short and give your dog many compliments if he behaves well. Once the dog is used to the paddle board, you will have a really great and beautiful time together. Enjoy every moment!
What should you take with you on the water?
Now that you are ready to go paddle boarding with your dog, there are also a few important things you should take with you:
- A dry bag for keys, mobile phone, sunscreen and wallet
- A dog life jacket
- Snacks for good behaviour
- A water bottle to stay hydrated
- Hat or cap
Tip: It is always good to have an extra towel in the car. This can be very useful, especially for dogs with a thicker coat, which can be full of sand. Many dogs love to roll through the sand.
My friends from Red Paddle also made a very interesting video with more helpful tips: