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Pups on a Paddleboard: Introducing Your Dog To The Sport

Man’s best friend deserves a trip on the water, too! Getting your pup geared up for a SUP adventure can be incredibly rewarding for you, and just as much fun for your pup. Doing something you love with your four-legged friend gives you more time to bond, and in this case, on the water. While it might seem like an easy task to get your dog on the board and stay put, it takes careful practice and patience to get him accustomed to the feel of the board and the water. Introduce your pup to the sport of paddleboarding with these seven easy tips and tricks, and you’ll be on the water in no time. Paws up, dude!

Introducing Your Dog to Stand-Up Paddleboarding

  1. Let Your Dog Sniff (And Sleep) On The Board

Ok, maybe sleeping on the board is not necessary. But, make sure your pup becomes familiar with the board before you even take them out on the water. Bring the board inside your home, if possible, and let him take things into his own paws — sniffing, walking, sitting, laying on it. This way, he will see it as fun, and not something to be afraid of.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid To Use Treats As Incentive

If your dog won’t step foot near the board, offer a treat as an incentive! While on land, place a treat on the board and ask your dog to get on the board to get the treat. If he does so, followup with another treat. Once he gets the idea that if he sits on the board he gets rewarded, he will likely become more comfortable in no time. Another area to incentivize with treats — putting on the doggy’s PFD.

  1. Get Your Dog Gear’d Up

It’s important to have the right safety gear for your pup. A dog life jacket like Ruffwear’s Float Coat is necessary for your pup to wear before getting on board. Get them used to the PFD before it’s go-time. If you really want to complete the look, invest in a pair of dog goggles. Totally paw-some.

  1. Practice Makes Perfect & Keep It Light

Once your dog is comfortable with the board and sitting on it, it’s time to test out the waters, literally. Spend an afternoon (or multiple) close to shore or the dock where you can practice simple commands like sitting, standing, and chilling out while you paddle. Always having treats on hand, ask your dog to get on the board and sit in his spot. This is a good time to start throwing out a specific command to get him on the board, as well as a separate command that allows him to step off. Practice those commands, reward him with treats, and soon enough, your dog will master them in no time.

Once you’re on the water with your pup, and confident he will sit and not jump off without his exit command, grab your paddle and slowly start paddling, to get him used to the movement and wobble of the board. If you sense worry, simply take things slow. He will get there. The key is to always create a positive environment around the board and the activity. If the dog senses you are unhappy with him, it’s highly likely he won’t want to continue on his venture of learning how to stand up paddle board.

  1. Start Small

Once you suspect your pup is feeling good and ready to take on the water, set sail! Keep your first true outing short and sweet to get a taste of what it’s like. Once you get back to shore, shower them with love and praise. They will be beyond stoked to head out on their next paddle adventure with you!

  1. Keep Expectations In Check

There will be tumbles in the water. There will be times where your pup might even tip you over in the water. Know that before going into each adventure, and you won’t become too disappointed if things don’t pan out perfectly every time. 

  1. Enjoy The Ride

Last but not least, keep things light and enjoyable! It’s a pretty great thing when you can take your four-legged buddy out with you on the water and spend your time doing something you love, with a pet you love. 

Now that you’re ready to get your pup on board, where will you venture out next on your paddleboard? Get out during these last “dog days” of summer for some memories that will last forever. For more SUP tips and tricks and all things inflatable watersports, visit our blog.

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