Dog Days of SUP: Teaching Your Dog to Paddle Board

Five Important Tips About Stand Up PaddleBoarding and Your Dog

The reference to the ‘dog days of summer’ has little to do with dogs and is based mostly on the rising of Sirius, the Dog Star. Because it arrives in mid-summer, the ancients blamed the hot and listless days of heat on the canine in the constellation. Yet Stand Up Paddle Boarders have a different definition of dog days: It is the perfect time to teach your dog how to SUP. Here are five important tips on how to teach your dog to SUP safely and confidently with you.

Stand on Liquid Makena 12' Touring SUP

Stand on Liquid Makena 12′ Touring SUP. Because it is so stable, it is a great board to introduce your dog to SUP.

First: Get the right board.

You want to own or rent the most stable paddle board possible. The Stand On Liquid Makena 12’ Touring SUP is an excellent paddle board for several reasons. You want a very stable board. While the Makena  was designed with a woman in mind, it provides this important attribute in several ways. The paddle board has a recessed deck to give the SUPer a lower center of gravity making the board easier to maneuver with less effort exerted on each stroke. The stylish design in more than just a pretty surface, swooping back to a wider tail giving the board increased stability. Once your dog is on board, this touring SUP will be just as easy to handle.

Second: Introduce your dog gradually.

Some dogs love water while others are bit hesitatent. Both of these characteristics can be troublesome for the paddler once they get on the water. A water loving pup has to be trained to stay on the board while those that are fearful can act nervously once they are floating. While you might think it is a good idea to train them when they are young, your dog must be able to follow some basic sit, stay, and down commands well enough to do them under stressful conditions.

You’ll probably want to get the dog acclimated on dry land first, giving them an introduction to the surface of the board prior to getting them on the water. Introducing them to the water should be gradual as well by having them sit on the board alone as you wade in shallow water.

This is also a good time and place to practice getting the dog back on the board if it is in the water. It’s not as easy as you might imagine. Your dog may experience some panic and the struggle to get a dog in this state back onto a board you are on can be difficult.

Third: Size matters

You will find numerous SUPers positioning the dog on the front of the board. This may not be the best place for the dog to be. The further up towards the nose of the board, the less stable you board might become should you encounter a boat wake or even some wind swept waves. Ideally, the dog should be behind you. Bigger dogs on the aft of the board give you the ability to adjust the balance of the board easier. If it is a small animal, between your legs might be the optimum location. Keep in mind, your dog wants to be with you and that is the experience it is seeking – not the best view.

Fourth: Get a Life Jacket

You may have your own personal floatation device strapped to your waist or at least you should. But your dog needs the same protection. Get a life jacket. You may dismiss this tip suggesting that your dog is an excellent swimmer. But once your dog is in the water, and you are forced to attempt a rescue, the animal’s energy will be quickly depleted at it tries to rescue itself. It may even attempt to head to shore, a distance that may be beyond it capabilities.

Fifth: Know your dog

Always bring water for the animal and treats to reinforce good behavior. Beyond that, dogs can get sunburned. For light colored or thin furred animals, this is a real danger. The sun can also reflect off the water and burn pink underbellies as well. So a good sunscreen designed for dogs is a must. Trim your dogs nails as well as the hair between its pads. This will make if feel more stable on the board and is less likely to cause damage from scratching.

And lastly, know the water. Some water conditions can be a challenge for pets as well as some more inexperienced SUPers. You may be able to control your board alone, but what’s in the water may impact your dog just as it would you should you fall in. Dogs are susceptible to many of the same water borne parasites as humans. Plan on thoroughly rinsing your dog afterwards.

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