We are spoiled by so many great places to get on the water, some days it’s hard to choose where to go. If you have a dog who insists on joining every adventure, try stand-up paddle boarding together! It’s easier than it looks and here are some helpful tips.
First off, your dog should like the water as much as you do and you should already know how to paddle board.
Second of all, SUPing is a great sport for dogs of all ages. It makes for a positive form of mental stimulation and on a physical level it’s very versatile, allowing you to suit the type of adventure to your dog’s style. A casual paddle gives your dog the option to sit or lay down which makes for a relaxing adventure and is great for senior dogs. It’s equally great for puppies as we all know they are easier to train when young. For the higher energy type, getting on the river will give you some speed and make your dog stand, maintain balance and get a real good core workout.
It all starts with the right type of board. The weight capacity has to handle both (or more!) of you. For larger dogs, you want one that is specifically extra wide so that your dog has enough space to feel comfortable. Ideally, three fins is better for stability and a large padded area for increased grip. Yoga SUP’s are a great option for beginners as the features are equally beneficial for SUPing with dogs, especially on calm water.
To introduce your dog to the sport, you want to start on land, practicing with your dog getting on and off the board. You want your dog to do this on your command, not at their own will or you’ll both end up in the water! From there, you want to teach your dog to place themselves in the same spot every time and you want that to be in the middle of your board, just ahead of your feet for best stability. You can get your dog to sit, stand or lay down, that’s up to you and your SUP skill level, but either way, you want to teach your dog to stay. A solid stay is necessary for success. Of course, use lots of treats and praise.
When you take to the water for the first time, practice the commands on shore to start. You want to stand on the side and hold the board so your dog can get its first feel of the movements of the water. You have to be confident and ready. The whole experience will rely on your dog trusting you, guide with patience. When you know it’s time, put one knee in the centre of the board and push away with your other leg before bringing it up. You can remain on your knees for as long as you want and as you feel the movements, you can try transitioning into a sitting position, or going halfway up on one knee until you eventually try to stand up.
Depending on your dog’s swimming skills, and especially on a river, have them wear a lifejacket. At the very least use a harness so that you have something to grab onto if they fall in the water.
Avoid skipping the practice because if your first experience is a bad one, and it easily could be, your dog may never want to be your SUP buddy again. There is so much to explore on the water, you may as well enjoy it together!