Many dogs can easily be trained to ride along with you on a paddleboard, opening up whole new worlds of outdoor fun. With a paddleboard-ready pup, you can rack up all sorts of adventures with your best buddy—and you don’t have to find a pet sitter or leave somebody back at the campsite to watch the dog when you head for the lake or the beach.
Safety, of course, is critical when it comes to paddleboarding with a dog, and you have to put in some groundwork before the two of you ever shove off from shore. In this article, we’ll run down some of the basics of training a canine to be comfortable on a paddleboard and point out the best equipment for the activity.
Prerequisites for Paddleboarding With a Dog
Your dog should be a strong swimmer if you’re going to bring it along paddleboarding. Just like you, your dog also needs to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) when on the board, which means you need to get that furry companion of yours comfortable wearing one of these vests.
Another fundamental, of course, is obedience training. An uncontrollable dog isn’t a good fit, needless to say, for standup paddleboarding.
Training a Dog to Ride on a Standup Paddleboard
It might seem a little daunting to train Fido to ride your inflatable standup paddleboard with you, but it’s a pretty simple process that jibes with many dogs.
First and foremost, you want your dog to be at ease around your paddleboard. Depending on a dog’s particular disposition, an unfamiliar object such as that can be unsettling or even frightening, so lay the board in your house or your yard where you and your dog spend a lot of time to drive home its utter harmlessness.
Once the paddleboard’s presence is no big thing for your pooch, it’s time to take things to the next level. Ease the dog into getting onto the paddleboard by putting a treat in the board’s forward part between where you’ll be paddling and the nose. Use a command such as “Jump on!” or “Get on!” when you give your dog the go-ahead to grab the treat, then reward him with another. Use an analogous command—“Jump off!” etc.—to direct the dog off the board, and then provide another treat.
Add the command to sit or lie down on the board once the basic routine is established. Do this process regularly for a week or two so your dog understands the verbal directions and becomes used to climbing on and off the board and sitting or lying on it.
Now you want to add yourself to the mix: With the dog on the board, stand where you’d typically do. Rock the board gently to simulate floating and wave-lapping, hold your paddle, and conduct your typical paddling motion. All of the above may or may not weird your dog out at first. Using treats and repetition more likely than not, your dog will get fully accustomed to this new game.
Once your dog’s got the dryland version of paddleboarding down, you’re nearly off to the races. Bring pooch and paddleboard to a suitably accessible and calm body of water and run through the routine again a few times on the shore. Ease the board into the water and try things in the shallows. Before long, you’ll be able to graduate to the full-on real deal.
On your first few paddles—and, really, on every paddle with your pet—pay close attention to its body language. Be aware of signs of stress—continuous panting, nervous pacing or circling—and be ready to abort if need be.
Choosing a Standup Paddleboard Suitable for Your Dog
Some kinds of paddleboard materials are on the slippery side of things for dog paws. An inflatable paddleboard is an excellent choice, providing a softer and more yielding surface for better traction and comfort.
You want to size your paddleboard appropriately to the dimensions of your dog. It’s absolutely possible to go paddleboarding with even large breeds as long as the boards wide enough and has a suitable weight capacity.
Our Dunn-Rite inflatable standup paddleboards are ideal for on-the-water trips with man’s (and woman’s) best friend, boasting a generous 32-inch width and a 350-pound weight limit. Put in enough time for your training exercises—and don’t forget the PFDs—and you and your four-legged companion should be all set for some tandem trips on your favorite flatwater!
Dunn-Rite Pool Products and Inflatable Paddle Boards
3rd Generation Family Owned Company with a long history of developing innovative products of the highest quality.