How to Paddle Board with Your Dog: Your Ultimate Guide 2024

man paddle boarding with small dog

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Hey there, water enthusiasts and dog lovers! Ever thought about combining your love for the water with your furry friend’s company? That’s right, we’re talking about paddle boarding with your dog.

Imagine this: The sun kissing your face, gentle waves beneath you, and your loyal pup by your side. This isn’t just a daydream; it’s totally doable, and I’m here to guide you on how to paddle board with your dog.

Before you grab your paddle and hit the water, there’s a bit to learn. Ensuring both your and your dog’s enjoyment and safety is key. From easing your pup onto the board to navigating the waters together, we’ll cover it all.

So, are you ready to take your dog on this new venture? Let’s jump in!

Gather Your Paddle Boarding Gear

Paddleboarding with your dog is a blast, but being prepared is key to a successful outing. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A Dog-Friendly Paddle Board: Whether it’s traditional or inflatable, ensure the board is sturdy and spacious enough, especially if you have a large dog. Look for boards with extended surface grip to prevent your pup from slipping.
  2. Dog Life Jacket: Non-negotiable for your dog’s safety, even if you’re sticking close to shore and your dog knows how to swim. Choose one with a handle on top so you can easily lift your dog back onto the board if needed.
  3. Leash: An on-land essential for getting to and from the shore. Please be a responsible pet owner, and don’t allow your dog to run free without a well-trained recall!
belgian malinois lying down on stand up paddle board

Introduce Your Dog to the Stand Up Paddle Board

First things first, let’s get your dog acquainted with their new floating friend – the paddle board. Here’s a pro tip: start on dry land. Lay the board in a familiar space and let your dog investigate. Curiosity will do most of the work here.

Watch as your dog sniffs around and maybe even steps onto the board. If they’re a bit hesitant, no worries. Sprinkle some of their favorite treats on the board. It’s a simple trick but oh-so-effective in turning skepticism into excitement.

Remember, patience is key. This is all about making the board a fun and safe place for your pooch. Once they’re comfortable, you’re one step closer to the real fun – hitting the water!

Teach Your Dog to Hop On and Off the SUP

Now that your dog is comfortable with the paddle board, it’s time to teach them the basics: hopping on and off. Start by encouraging your dog to get on the board. Use treats or their favorite toy as a lure. Reward your dog for just being on the board at first.

Next, encourage them to sit or lie down. This isn’t just about staying put; it’s about finding their balance and comfort spot. More treats and praise will reinforce these behaviors. Use commands they know, like “sit” or “down,” to make it easier.

Teaching them to get off is just as important. Use a release command like “okay!” or “break!” to signal it’s time to hop off. If your dog knows the place command, that’s a bonus. Use it to speed up the process.

Practice this drill a few times.

The goal?

Your dog should get the hang of getting on, settling down, and hopping off on command. And don’t forget to practice getting on the board together. Use the paddle to mimic water movement. It’s a great way to prep for the real deal!

Test Out the Life Jacket

Safety first! Especially when it comes to water adventures with your dog. If your dog is new to life jackets, introduce it to them in a comfortable environment before hitting the water.

Let them sniff it, wear it, and walk around with it. This way, they won’t be overwhelmed when they’re also dealing with the sensations of the paddle board.

Make sure the life jacket fits snugly but comfortably. An ill-fitting vest can be a distraction or, worse, a hazard. Adjust straps and buckles to ensure a perfect fit. And if your dog seems hesitant to move around in it, entice them with treats or their favorite toy. It’s all about making them comfortable and confident.

A life jacket ensures that, even if they’re strong swimmers, they’ll stay afloat and visible in the water.

young yellow lab wearing yellow life jacket

Before You Get On the Water

We’re almost ready to hit the water, but first, let’s ensure we have everything we need. Paddleboarding with your dog is a blast, but being prepared is key to a successful session on the water.

Practice Your Obedience

An untrained dog can rock the boat – literally.

Before you even think about getting on the water, make sure your dog is responsive to basic commands like ‘sit,’ ‘down,’ and ‘stay.’ It’s imperative that they learn how to hop on and off of the board, as mentioned in the previous steps!

If your dog understands the place command, this will be cake!

Check Your Own Skills

Comfort on the board isn’t just for your dog. Ensure you’re confident with paddling, balancing, and maneuvering. The more secure you feel, the easier it will be to help your dog adjust.

Trim Your Dog’s Nails

Sharp nails are a big no-no for traditional and inflatable paddle boards alike. Use a file or grinder to smooth those edges. Trimming those nails is a small step that can preserve your board.

Exercise Your Pup

A bit of pre-paddle exercise can go a long way, especially for energetic dogs. Whether it’s a swim or a game on land, a little exertion can help them relax on the board.

woman and dog paddling on paddle board, learning how to paddle board with your dog

How to Paddle Board With Your Dog

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for – getting onto the water! Here’s how to apply everything you’ve practiced on dry land.

Getting on the Board

Start by setting the board at the water’s edge.

Guide your dog onto the board while they’re on a leash. This helps you maintain control during these first few tries. Give your dog a moment to adjust and reward them with treats to help them stay on the board.

If they jump off the board, no biggie. Just guide them back on. 

If they’re slow to settle, you can ask your dog to sit or lie down as a form of encouragement.

Once they’re settled, slowly push the board away from shore and carefully climb onto it yourself. Stay low and on your knees first to keep the balance as you paddle away from the shore.

At this point, you should unclip the leash and store it.

And just like that – you’ve made it!

Getting Comfortable on the Water

This might take a bit of time, and that’s okay.

Stay on your knees for better stability while your dog is getting used to the sensation. Place treats on the board where you want your dog to stay. This helps them understand where their ‘spot’ is.

For small dogs, they can pretty much perch anywhere. But with larger dogs, you’ll need to be more mindful about weight distribution for balance.

And watch out when paddling to avoid accidentally bumping them!

Surface level front view of dog swimming looking at camera, High Sierra National Park, California,

What to Do if Your Dog Jumps or Falls In the Water

It happens! Keep calm and guide them back to the board.

If they’re wearing their life jacket (which they should be), use the handle to help pull them back on the board. Just remember to keep the board balanced to avoid capsizing. 

After the rescue, carry on and enjoy your time together. It’s all part of the adventure!

Disembarking the Paddle Board

When it’s time for a break, or you’re ready to call it a day, getting off the board is just as important as getting on.

Approach the shore carefully and be ready to disembark first. Although it’s tempting for dogs to leap off in excitement, discourage this to avoid potential safety hazards.

Once you’re off, briefly keep your dog on the board and reward them for staying put. This reinforces good habits. 

When you’re ready, release them with your chosen command, like “Okay!” or “Break!”

Remember to put them on a leash just before hopping off to prevent them from dashing off.

Dog in a Life Jacket

Sup Pup Safety Tips

  • Always be vigilant for potential hazards in the water and steer clear.
  • If things get wobbly, lower your center of gravity by getting on your knees. This helps with balance.
  • Prevent your dog from drinking the water. Always bring bottled water and a dog bowl, especially on hot days.
  • Rinse your dog off after paddle boarding to remove salt, sand, or lake water.
  • Keep a leash on your dog when on shore.
  • Consider protective gear for your dog in sunny or hot conditions, like booties, eye protection, or sunscreen.
  • And, of course, always have a first aid kit on hand for any mishaps.

Wrapping Up Paddle Boarding with Dogs

And there you have it – your guide on how to paddle board with your dog safely and successfully!

Remember, it’s all about preparation, patience, and safety. With these tips, you and your pup are all set to make a splash and create unforgettable memories on the water.

So, grab your board, dog, and sense of adventure, and paddle away!

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