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How To: SUP With Dogs

Stand-up paddleboarding has swept the country, from high-alpine lakes to the Pacific coast to the river that runs through the nation’s capital. And it’s a trend we support. But we also get behind the joys of hitting the water with your SUP (as they’re known) and your four-legged best friend. Paddleboards just seem ideally built for one person and a dog. Even if Fido doesn’t like to swim, he still might enjoy the paddleboard experience.

Any dog can learn to paddleboard, regardless of breed, size, or age. What matters most? Taking it slow and making sure your dog’s first experience with the board is a positive one. If you go too fast and something goes wrong, your dog may be scared of the paddleboard forever. Here are some tips and tricks for teaching your dog to standup paddle.

  • Start on land. Place the board on the front lawn or even in your living room and let your dog sniff and become familiar with the board for a few days.
  • If your dog is treat motivated, give her a treat when she jumps on the board in order to create a positive association.
  • Once your dog feels comfortable getting on and off the board while on land, practice the basics such as “sit,” “stay,” and “down.” You can even hop on the board with your paddle and mimic the paddling motion.
  • When you think you’re both ready, bring the paddleboard to a lake or another flat, calm water area—even a pool would work. Practice getting on and off the board in this new environment. Treats are always helpful.
  • When your dog seems up for it, head out for a short paddle. Gradually work up to longer sessions on the water. Expect a few mishaps the first couple of times out, as both you and your dog get used to balancing. Sometimes it helps to sit down and paddle for a more stable ride.
  • When you return to shore, be sure to give your dog lots of praise.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t also offer a few notes on safety:

  • Have fresh water available and offer it frequently. You don’t want your dog drinking dirty or salty water.
  • Regardless of the type of water you are paddling, make sure your dog wears a flotation device. You never know what might happen and most personal floatation devices feature handles to make it easier to get your dog back on the board if he should fall off or jump in the water after a duck.




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