The Ultimate Guide To Paddle Boarding With Dogs
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Ah, man’s best friend, and the open waters, what more could a person ask for? That’s right, nothing. There’s something special about enjoying your favorite activity, which is obviously paddle boarding, with your dog, and you’d be surprised how easy it can be to bring them along!
I’m going to guide you through the process and give you every possible reason to say yes to taking your doggo to the beach to enjoy paddle boarding together!
Reasons Why You Should Paddle Board With Your Dog
I’d argue why not and leave it at that, but I’m here to do more than just state my position. There are many reasons why I think paddle boarding with your dog is a great idea.
For starters, your dog is going to love paddle boarding just as much as you do. The calm and peaceful nature of the water, combined with the point of view and accessibility of it all, will do wonders for your dog and you. Dogs want to go on adventures just as much as you likely want to, and taking them with you can be rewarding for their emotional and physical health and bring you closer as man (or woman) and man’s best friend.
What You Need To Start Paddle Boarding With Your Dog
Paddle boarding with your dog doesn’t really require anything special. It just requires a little extra consideration into what things you might already have and a few minor extras. So here’s what you’re going to need to paddle board with your dog.
For starters, you need a dog. If you don’t have one, consider this your sign to get yourself an adventure buddy. Beyond your furry friend, you’ll need the following;
A Perfect Board For You and Your Dog
There isn’t a SUP that is stated as ‘designed for dogs,’ so don’t go and spend endless hours searching for one! However, there are ideal aspects of a paddle board that you should look out for that are ideal for paddle boarding with your dog. Look for a board that is;
- Wide = roughly 32 inches
- Long = roughly 10 feet
Finally, consider the combined weight of you and your dog and apply this to the recommended weights of available paddle boards. Again, you don’t want to get a board that can’t support both as then you’re going to run into some issues in the water, a place you don’t really want to have problems.
If you’re looking for a killer board that is not only practical for you and your dog but is also just downright epic in design, then might I recommend the GILI Komodo! This 10’6 inflatable SUP is perfect for you and your furry friend and comes with a 2-year warranty and a 4-month interest-free payment plan!
Flotation Device For You And Your Dog
Accidents can happen, and just as you’re required to wear a PFD, so is your dog. It doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer you or your dog might be. It’s essential to put safety over pride and strap into a PFD to be prepared for anything!
I recommend putting a floatation device on your dog while at home so they get used to it. The last thing you need is a scene at the beach when your dog refuses a foreign object.
Personally, I recommend the DFD X2 Boost which comes in all dog sizes and has a red or yellow option. Yellow is a good choice because if anything happens, at least your dog can be easily spotted.
Adequate Surface Grip
Most paddle boards aren’t designed for a dog’s paws. You will need to pay special attention to searching for a board with a sturdy surface and adequate grip to ensure your furry friend doesn’t become another case of ‘dog overboard!’ Look for a board with a full deck pad or, at the very least, a slightly extended deck pad.
If you’re unable to just buy a new board on a whim, a good and cheap alternative is using a bath mat or yoga mat with suctions on the bottom to grip the board.
Here are some of the things you need to sort out before your dog goes anywhere near a SUP.
Know Your Stuff Before Adding a Passenger
The old saying practice what you preach could not be more prevalent here if it tried. Suppose you’re not confident in your abilities on a paddle board. In that case, it’s probably best you don’t subject your dog to being on the open water with you.
Teach Your Dog To Swim
This should go without saying but make sure your dog can actually swim before going out to sea on a paddle board. If your dog can’t swim, teach them! It’s crucial that your dog is comfortable with water and knows how to swim so that if something bad were to happen, they have some form of preparation to handle it.
Trim Sharp Nails
Long nails can spell trouble for numerous reasons. For example, if your dog falls in the water and you go to save it, you’re going to get scratched as it frantically tries to swim. Additionally, your board can suffer when a dog has long nails as they can tear the deck pad and ruin the finish.
Tire Out Energetic Dogs
An energetic dog on a paddle board is a recipe for disaster. Before you go near the water, play with your furry friend. Throw a frisbee, a ball, do some running, go for a swim, go wild and get them as relaxed and tired as possible.
Stock Up On Treats
Good behavior deserves a treat, and if your dog is doing a good job while on the water, they should know about it so they can continue being the good boy/girl they are.
Preparing Your Dog For The Board and the Water
Do you remember the first time you went paddle boarding? I can imagine you weren’t a pro! Now imagine your dog following in your footsteps. It’s not going to be smooth sailing at first. It’s going to take a bit of practice and a whole lot of patience.
Here are some of the ways you’re going to need to prepare your dog for the board, and more importantly, the open waters.
Basic Commands For Your Dog
Unless your dog knows the basics of ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ commands, I think maybe focus on that before heading into the water. You need to be able to tell your dog to stop doing something that could put them in danger, or flip the entire paddle board tosing you both in the water.
Warm Your Dog Up to the PFD and the SUP
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating; get your dog familiar with both the PFD and the board. Don’t just wing it and hit the open waters with your dog’s curiosity off the charts as they attempt to figure out what a paddle board is and why they’re wearing a funny ‘jersey.’ The less curiosity they have in the means of paddle boarding, the easier it will be to paddle board with your dog.
Use Treats To Make Them Comfortable Around and On the SUP
Treats are always a good way to reinforce good behavior, just as withholding them, and being sterner, is an excellent means to show them lousy behavior.
While at home, in your spare moments, get the board out and put some treats on it and get your dog to sit on the board. Then, keep repeating this process to instill in them, so they instinctively know what they’re doing.
Practice, Test Run, Repeat
Now that your dog is comfortable start introducing them to the entire process by running through the motions without any drastic paddle boarding. Just floating in the water, getting on and off the board, staying on the board, things like that. If possible, do it in your pool, so you’re using a controlled space.
Let Your Dog Know When They’re Doing a Good Job!
Never forget to reinforce positive behavior and reprimand negative behavior. You need to have confidence in your dogs’ ability to not make a mistake that could be potentially dangerous to them, you, or the both of you.
How To Paddle Board With Your Dog
To paddle board, you’re going to need to follow a basic set of steps to successfully traverse the water.
Step One: Get in the water alone for a bit and just wave back to your dog and smile/laugh so that you can show your dog how fun the water is.
Step Two: Bring the board close to the shore and start seeing if your dog wants to jump on. If they do jump on, slowly start heading out but remain in a kneeling position for better balance until you’re ready to stand.
Step Three: If you’re ready to stand, then go for it, let your dog roam around the board calmly, maybe let it stand between your legs while you paddle.
Step Four: Enjoy your time out at sea but know that you may need to jump off at a second’s notice to avoid hurting yourself if your dog falls in or jumps into the water. Furthermore, be vigilant for your dog’s safety and act quickly if something happens to make sure your dog knows that you’re there and that paddle boarding is safe and fun.
Most importantly, be patient. It won’t click the first time around, and you need to give your dog some room to grow in confidence. But, soon, your dog be a pro just like you!
Tips for Paddle Boarding With Your Dog
Some things are necessary to know about paddle boarding with your dogs. These are some additional tips for managing your experience and any possibilities that might come from your day at sea with your furry friend.
Depending on the breed of your dog, you’re going to want to consider applying some sunscreen when the sun is out in full force. Some dogs have very thin layers of fur around their bellies, and they can be burnt by the reflecting sunlight on the water.
A good dog-friendly sunscreen is the My Dog Nose It Moisturizing Balm for Dogs! It’s affordable and safe to use on your dog with great protection and a soothing feel.
First Aid Kit
Like sunscreen, you should have this regardless. Accidents happen, and you need to be prepared to treat any potential injuries, cuts, or scrapes that happen while out on the water.
A great first aid kit on the market is the NRS Paddler Medical Kit which has been made specifically for the activity you love so much. NRS works in the water sports and camping sector to make your outdoor experience safer and infinitely better, so you know you’re getting something great from this Idaho-based business.
Rinse Paws After SUP
Saltwater will irritate your dog’s paws, and skin so make sure to rinse the saltwater off your dog once you’ve completed your day of paddle boarding fun. You’ll also want to pay special attention to the ears to avoid them getting infected by trapped water.
The beach is filled with potentially dangerous things that you need to look out for to protect your dog. Watch out for; jellyfish (in and out the water), sea lice, hot sand, and extended time in the sand. Also, keep your dog hydrated. Carry around a small bowl and some water to have something ready for them to sip from.
Here are some of the questions I frequently encounter when it comes to paddle boarding with a dog.
Will My Dog Pop My Inflatable Paddleboard?
It’s highly unlikely that your dog will pop an inflatable SUP. Since inflatable SUP’s are designed to withstand numerous potentially damaging situations, your dog shouldn’t pose a threat to its overall integrity. However, you still need to trim their nails and keep in mind the weight requirements to avoid giving any room to potential damage.
Is Paddle Boarding Harder Than Kayaking for Dogs?
Paddle boarding is far easier for dogs than kayaking or canoes. It mainly has to do with getting in and out of the kayaks and the limited mobility that makes kayaking more difficult.
Maybe this seems like a daunting task to take on, and you’ll wonder, ‘is it really worth all the trouble?’ But, I can guarantee you it’s worth every moment of ‘trouble.’ Once you’ve done the hard work of getting your dog ready, you get to enjoy the water with your dog, who will enjoy the water just as much as you enjoy it.
Once you see that look on their face as they smell the salty sea air and calmly lie on the board panting away, wagging their tail. Well, that’s just going to seal the deal ultimately.
If you know somebody who loves paddle boarding and has a dog, send this article their way to show them the joys of SUP with dogs. If you’re going through the process of teaching your dog, or paddle surfing with your dog already, tell us how it’s going in the comments below!! Check out more Paddle Board Athlete articles and guides. 2 more of our most recommended articles are paddleboard camping and riding with your baby.