How to Paddle Boarding with a Dog

man paddle boarding with dog

Paddle boarding with your dog is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors together. However, taking your pup for a spin on your paddle board isn’t a walk in the park. Dogs are skilled at balance and yours could be naturally good at paddleboarding, but you may need to improve your own skills and your communication with your dog before you are ready to start paddling with your pup on your board with you.

We can take you step-by-step through the process of getting on your board with your dog and paddling around the first time or two until you practice enough to get confident to take a longer trip on your board. Paddle boarding is fun in and of itself, so imagine what a treat it would be to have your good boy or good girl along with you on the water!

Focus on You Before you SUP with your Pup

Before you get your dog out on the water, its smart to make sure you have the skill level and balance you need to paddle board with your dog successfully. More likely than not, your dog will be better on the board than you when you bring it along on your board, if you can believe that. When it comes to standing on the board, your dog is four legged, making for great balance, and your pup will likely get the hang of it faster than you would expect while you’re paddling.

Learning How to Paddle Board Well First

But before you get started, you still need to make sure you are comfortable paddle boarding long before you include a dog. Paddle boarding is easy to learn (anyone can do it, especially dogs!), but the more experienced you are at paddling, the easier and safer it will be for your pup.

Your Dog will have the Best Balance

The most important skill in stand up paddle boarding is balance. Whether you can keep your balance perfectly or not, paddle boarding on a solid or inflatable stand up paddle board a great and reliable way to improve your balance. With our various sized boards, we have something every person and every pup of every skill level like. But do you want to know which furry friend has the best balance to bring to the table (or the water)? Your dog, for one!

Paddle boarding with your good boy (or good girl) is something that might seem intimidating. But if you’ve never seen a dog on a skateboard, surfboard, or paddle board, you ought to check it out. Dogs have the ability to keep standing in the most extreme conditions you might encounter on a paddle board. It is pretty amazing to see dogs in action. Your best friend may have some long hidden talents you didn’t know about!

Get Your Dog Ready to Paddleboard

Before you bring your dog on your board on the water, make sure to give your dog a comfortable floatation device or life jacket to keep your best friend safe and having fun. You may not have a hard time training your pup to ride with you standing on the board, but there is still a chance one or both of you could fall in the water. Always be prepared, and you might need to take it slow at first when paddling on your board.

Preparing your Dog to Ride on a Paddle Board

Before you set sail on a stand up paddle board with your dog (or dogs), you will need to make sure you undergo necessary training in order for your dog to

 1) feel comfortable getting onto the board and

 2) feel comfortable in the middle of a body of water with the paddle board.

The process of learning and getting comfortable with each of these may not be complicated, but they may also take time and slow progress. It all depends on your dog, and even the kind of relationship you have with your dog. However you usually teach your dog, whether you use a treat reward system or not (make sure you remember to bring a treat along with you to the lake if you do!) doesn’t matter. Just use the methods you usually use and communicate with your dog in the way you would to teach and practice any other command.

Getting your dog comfortable on the paddle board

Training your dog to ride on your board and feel secure standing on your SUP board with you is probably the biggest step you will have to take when learning to SUP paddleboard with your pup. It’s important to already have a very strong connection with your dog that allows you to communicate clearly what you need your dog to do. There should also be a lot of trust between you and your dog as you teach, otherwise your dog may not ever feel comfortable enough to stay on your paddle board alongside you and not try to jump to shore from your board.

Your dog should be at a place where it can follow the vocal commands or hand motions you give it pretty well, and you will need to motion or ask your dog to get up on the SUP board a few times until your dog understands. You may need to try this with your paddle board on the land at first (make sure to remove the paddleboarding fins if you do). You can then move to having your dog step onto your paddle board while it is in the water (you can stand in the water holding the board if you like to stabilize it and to encourage your dog).

Getting your dog comfortable in a body of water

Once your dog is great at getting on the SUP board and balancing in the water, it’s time to try taking your dog out into the lake or bay with you and back to shore. It may require baby steps before you can fully paddle board with your dog, so try not to push your dog too hard if it seems frightened while you’re paddling.

There is also a chance your pup will be perfectly fine with going out into the water. How much time your dog is willing to stand or sit on the board out on the water can vary, and you’ll want to bring your dog back in if you notice it beginning to get restless or anxious. If you usually give your dog a treat after a job well done, remember to celebrate each success and progress with a treat! Your dog is doing a great job getting used to the board and paddling process.

There is a possibility your dog is nervous about being far out on the water, but it’s also possible that your pup just has a lot of energy. It’s a good idea to make sure your dog is fairly calmed down before taking it with you on the water. You don’t want to exhaust your dog (SUP paddleboarding is a workout for you, and also for your dog. Your dog needs to have some energy and strength to endure a long trip), but you don’t want your dog to be bouncing off the walls either.

Time for you to Get on the Board

Have your dog get on the board first before you get on, and you can get on the board and stabilize yourself on your knees before you stand as well. Make sure to give your dog room to stay and sit back on the board in a way that is natural. You can position yourself on the SUP paddleboard in the middle or slightly back on the board, just don’t crowd your pup on the front of the paddleboard. Your SUP board should be large enough to give your pup the space it needs.

Riding a Paddle Board with Your Dog Successfully

Once your dog is comfortable being on the water, it’s time to begin your paddle boarding adventures together. For the first few trips, it might be a good idea to take it slow and go shorter distances to not push your dog past what it is comfortable with, especially if your dog seems to get nervous or tired out after being on the water for a bit of time. You’ll want to keep your dog from wanting to jump into the water when it is really tired out.

Paddle Boarding with your Dog is Surprisingly Natural

It could be surprising, but every time I have seen dogs ride paddle boards, the sport seems to come very naturally to them. Most dogs know not to just jump off the SUP board, and they have such good balance that they never fall off … before you do. Here is a concise step by step guide on paddle boarding with your dog or dogs.

  1. Place the board on the water near the dock or sand – make sure the board is floating freely
  2. Motion your dog to get on while holding the SUP board steady
  3. Get on your SUP board and stay on your knees until you both feel comfortable
  4. Have your dog or dogs stay on the front of the SUP board while you paddle in the middle

A good tip is to stay on your knees for the first bit so you and your dog can get used to moving through the water together. Be aware that if you or your pup move, the other will feel the SUP board move a lot. So be careful not to paddle too fast.

woman doing yoga paddle boarding with dog

Paddle Boarding with your Dog: In Conclusion

Paddle boarding with your pup is a real treat, and just one of the creative things you can do on a paddle board. From camping to yoga to racing, there are still many activities that most people haven’t tried on paddle boards. We would love to be the first to share with you the next cool thing to perform on an inflatable paddle board. We love to keep giving you more fun ways and more reasons to get outside and get back on the water.

When you’re teaching your dog or dogs how to ride a paddle board with you while you’re paddling, the most important think to keep in mind is that you have patience. Especially if you have multiple dogs instead of just one, different dogs would usually grow in their comfort level, get used to the board, and learn at different rates. You will need to be patient to let them get used to the board for the first time around and be understanding if a little more training is needed the second time around as well.

Having patience with yourself as you get used to having to step and stand on the board with your dog is important as well. You’ll want to be careful as you step on in the water, not going too fast, and being willing to sit as long as you like before you gain stability to stand. Wear a life jacket or flotation device on the water, and make sure your dog has a life jacket as well.

If you fall in the water a few times, don’t worry about it! Just get back on your board and if your pup is ready to get back on the board as well, give it another try. It will take a little practice and a few tries to get great at it, just like anything else in life, and your dog might even try to jump to shore when you aren’t expecting it, but falling in the water is all part of the fun.

Finding a Paddle Board for You and your Dog

Maybe you haven’t been paddleboarding a lot, but you’re interested to find a new sport you can do with your best bud. Maybe you have been paddleboarding, but you want to find a fun SUP board that’s a little larger to fit your dog (or dogs). You’ll want enough room on your paddle board for your dog to sit and stay. Let us be your resource for finding the perfect paddle board and equipment for paddle boarding! We offer some of the best brands of paddle boards, surf boards, and products for water sports, and we offer insights and tips for finding the ideal SUP board for you to suit your needs and your dogs’. Have a look around, and let us know how we can help you find one!

References and Sources:

Cool of the Wild. SUP Camping: A Paddle Board Camping Guide for Beginners https://coolofthewild.com/sup-camping-paddle-board-camping/

Dog Time. Paw-mazing Pets: These Dogs Are Way Better at Sports Than Most of Us https://dogtime.com/lifestyle/dog-activities/21772-dogs-sports-videos

Fit Day. 7 Unique Ways to Get a Full Body Workout https://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/health/7-unique-ways-to-get-a-full-body-workout.html

Goosehill. Top 6 Lakes in North America You Should Go Paddle Boarding On https://goosehillsport.com/blogs/stand-up-paddleboarding-spots/top-6-lakes-in-north-america-you-should-go-paddle-boarding-on

Inflatable Boarder. SUP Racing 101 – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide https://www.inflatableboarder.com/sup-racing-guide/

IRocker. https://www.irockersup.com/

ISLE. https://www.islesurfandsup.com/

ISLE. What is SUP Yoga? https://www.islesurfandsup.com/what-is-sup-yoga/

Keeper Sports Products. https://keepersportsproducts.com/

NRS. U.S. Coast Guard Regulations for Stand Up Paddlers https://www.nrs.com/learn/uscg-regulations-for-sup

REI Co-op. How to Choose a Stand Up Paddleboard https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/how-to-choose-a-stand-up-paddleboard.html

REI Co-op. Stand Up Paddle Boarding for Beginners https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/paddleboarding.html

Safe Boater. Understanding Weather for Boating https://www.safeboater.com/learn-the-rules/weather.html

Yale Environment 360. Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health

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