Stand up paddle boarding is all the rage right now. It’s a great way to work on your balance, get some sun, and enjoy the water at the same time. Oh, I almost forgot to mention: your dog can join in on the fun too!
I know that putting a dog on a stand up paddle board seems like asking for trouble, but all it takes is a little training and you and your dog will be cruising the lake together in no time.
Start On the Ground
First things first: make sure your dog associates fun with the paddleboard. Your dog may be a little unsure about getting on a new surface, especially if it is floating on the water, so start with the paddleboard on the ground and allow them to explore it. Your dog may hop right on and have no trouble, but if your dog is feeling cautious, throw a treat onto the board to encourage them. Once they are comfortable walking onto the board, teach them to sit, stay and jump off the board on command. You want to make sure that they know the board is a fun and rewarding thing!
Just because the goal is to stay on the paddleboard doesn’t mean that either you or your dog won’t end up in the drink. If your dog isn’t a strong swimmer, you’ll want to make sure they’re wearing an appropriately sized life jacket, just in case. Take a few walks around the block with the life jacket on so your dog gets used to wearing it before you take him out on the water. He’ll only feel a little embarrassed, I promise.
Short Trips First
Once you know your dog loves the paddleboard, will obey your get on, sit, stay, and get off commands confidently while it’s on the ground, and has the right safety gear, it’s time to head out. To start, simply put the board in shallow water where your dog can get on from shore. Once they do, reward them with a treat and then practice your basic commands of sit and stay. Then ask them to jump off and reward again.
Once your dog has done this a few times and seems confident, ask them to get on the board and then you get on. Keep your first few sessions short and close to shore until your dog builds more confidence.
Keep it Fun & Other Tips
Remember, this is supposed to be fun for you and your dog! If at any point your dog seems stressed or concerned, let him take a break. Paddleboarding may not be their thing, so don’t try to force it too much. You also shouldn’t be afraid to go back a step if your dog seems like they need a little more time to get comfortable.
Make sure you’re extremely comfortable with the paddleboard dog-free first. A dog suddenly jumping off the board will cause a lot of movement, and you want to make sure you’re comfortable enough that you won’t fall off too if it happens (especially if they do it without warning).
Bring water and snacks. Dehydration can sneak up on both you and your dog on the water, so be sure to bring extra. Snacks never hurt.
So grab your board, your dog, and your sense of adventure to enjoy the water together!