Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) can be a great activity in the summer for the whole family. It is easy to do, you just need to be able to keep your balance and use an oar. Dogs that are used to spending time with their owners on the water will love going paddle-boarding, especially since they get to stay close to their favorite person and enjoy the fresh air. It is portable enough to carry to any dock or beach and makes travelling on the water to your favorite swimming hole that much more pleasant since you don’t need to fuss with more than one oar or a motor.
Paddle Boarding with your Pup
Most dogs have a natural instinct for the board, but since animals don’t always react predictably and can get panicked if something is off, there are several things to consider if you plan on stand up paddle boarding with your pooch.
Follow this 5 step guide to SUP with your dog for considerations to take before getting on the water;
1. Get your dog used to the paddle board off the water
Even if your dog loves the water and will jump into a boat without a moment’s hesitation it is always a good idea to get your dog used to how the paddle board feels, the width of it and footing. Put it down on dry land beside the water and practice standing up on it with your pooch. This will also give you a good indication of where your dog will likely sit when you are out on the water. Most animals like to sit up front, but sometimes the occasional dog will stay right in between your legs, so prepare for that. Practice with the basics for commands as well, like sit, stay and lie down before you ever hit the water so you have some control over your pet on the water.
2. Get a mat or non-slip stickers for the front of the paddle board
Most dogs will want to sit on the front of the paddle board, and while there is a non-slip surface in the middle and back of a board, most boards won’t have that feature on the front end. Getting some non-slip stickers or a bathmat is a good idea so your pooch doesn’t slide around and get panicked by the lack of sure footing. It will also keep your dog on the paddle board if they feel secure enough to lie down and enjoy the scenery.
3. Get your dog a life vest with a handle
Animals are unpredictable and you never know when your dog might panic or see something interesting in the water or on shore they have to get to. A life vest designed specifically for your dog will just keep them safe if they aren’t great swimmers and the handle will allow you to easily reach over and pull them back onto the board so you don’t both end up in the water.
4. Choose the right length and width of paddleboard to hold your dog
A 100 pound Bernese will require a lot more space than a 10 pound Chihuahua so you want to make sure your paddleboard is big enough to support the kind of dog you have. If you have more than one and anticipate having everyone on the board at the same time, the length and width of the paddleboard is an important decision so everyone has a place to lie down and enjoy the trip.
5. Stability of the board
Choosing a slightly heavier board with good stability will give you and your pooch a much safer ride. More stability might mean a slightly slower ride, but if your dog decides to move around the board because he sees something really exciting, there is less of a chance that the two of you will end up in the water. More stability means that you will not feel the movement as much either, so you will enjoy a smoother ride with your four-legged friend.
Whether enjoying a slow ride on your favourite lake or braving the swells of the ocean, stand up paddle boarding is one of the most enjoyable water activities you can do with your dog. Following the 5 step guide to SUP including practicing on dry land, making sure your dog has the proper safety gear and using a paddleboard that is big enough to support both of you is one way to ensure the time you spend with your pooch on the water is fun and safe.