A fun activity for you and your dog is to go paddleboarding! Perhaps you are already an experienced paddleboarder, or maybe you will be learning together with your dog, but he most important thing is to remember to make it a fun experience for both you and your four-legged friend.
There are a few things to consider before you go and buy a paddleboard and all the necessary gear, or you could be setting yourself up for failure. This is a quick guide to what paddleboarding is, what you need to get started, what dog breeds are suitable for paddling and much more! Everything you need to know in one place.
Can All Dogs Paddle Board?
Yes, any dogs can go paddleboarding, but not all dogs like it. While it could take time for canines to get comfortable on a board, some are just not meant to be on the water, and it is important to pay attention to the signs your pooch is giving you.
Calm dogs are usually easier to teach to stay still while you paddle, and if you have a hyperactive fur friend you are likely to struggle more. This, however, does not mean it’s impossible, and patience is key if you want to succeed.
The size of your dog matters, and due to simple logistics, a smaller dog is easier to fit on aboard. This will have some people believe that small dogs are better suited to be paddle boarders, but the truth is that it is simply a question of working with what you’ve got and to pay attention to how your pup responds to paddleboarding training. Your dogs will tell you – in their own way – so just make sure to listen.
Choosing a Paddle Board
For those who already own paddleboard, it is perfectly fine testing it out first to see if it is a good fit for your dog, but if there is no paddleboard waiting for you at home – it is time to start shopping for one.
The best tip is to find a wide paddleboard, as it adds stability when out on the water, and accommodates larger dogs better (especially if they would decide to wiggle around a little).
There are paddleboards in all price classes, and it is up to you what you feel comfortable starting out with. The best way to find the right one is by looking online, as this gives you a much bigger selection to choose from.
Preparing for- and safely executing a paddleboarding experience comes down to the details. You should consider getting a life jacket for dogs, and possibly one for yourself, as you can never know for sure how things will turn out.
Most dogs are born with the ability to swim, but this does not apply to all dogs, and in the case of an accident you will want your pup to have that additional safety feature. Having your dog wear a life vest also benefits you, as it is a lot easier to lift a dog back up on the paddle board when you have something to hold onto.
Bring as little as possible when you go out on the paddleboard and leave the rest on the beach. Your dog’s leash should probably stay onshore as well because while it could seem like a good idea to have a leash at hand, it could also present a certain risk if your dog gets tangled up in it.
Make sure your dog is physically fit to be on a paddleboard, and if you are unsure – talk to a veterinarian for advice, and to have your pup checked and controlled. You want to be certain that the activity won’t cause your furry friend discomfort, such as having joint pain and bone disease might.
Inflatable Paddle Boards
If you are not an experienced paddle boarder, then perhaps the idea of an inflatable paddle board will sound a little silly. Why would you put an animal with sharp nails on something that will sink if a hole is pierced?
If this was the thought that went through your mind, we have some surprising news for you! Inflatable paddleboards are, in fact, perfect for paddling with dogs, as they are made with durable materials that won’t be affected by your pup’s nails.
Inflatable paddleboards are also very stable and tend to be a little wider than many other models, which gives your pooch more than enough space to sit, stand or lie down while you paddle.
Another benefit of an inflatable board is how easy it is to transport, and how little it weighs when you carry it around. It can be hard to take an enthusiastic dog and a paddleboard with you at the same time, so a light-weight inflatable alternative can be what saves you from disaster.
5 Steps to Getting Started
As you might have figured out already, paddle boarding with your dog is something that requires the three P’s – preparation, practice, and patience. Here are a few steps you will want to take when getting ready to paddleboard. Expect a few days or even weeks of preparation, depending on your dog, before you can head to the water.
Keep the board in the house – Step number one is to get a paddleboard and to bring it home with you. Leave it out for your dog to sniff and get familiar with for a day or two, by leaving it on the ground for the dog to sniff and possibly climb upon.
Use dog treats – After the original introduction, you can start trying to persuade your dog to get up on the board. Use dog treats to make it more fun and consider using something truly irresistible for the first few times until your pup gets the hang of it. This should take place inside the house without pressure.
Teach useful commands – Before you head out, try to teach your dog the commands ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘stay’, as this will help you keep your fur friend on the paddleboard and under control when you are out there. Communication is everything, so teach your dog to understand what it is you want him (or her) to do.
Practice commands on the board – Now, the next step would be to practice these same commands on the board, while the board is still on the ground. Will your pooch sit, lie down and stay on the board when asked? Great!
Take the dog and board to the water – And finally – time to try it on the water! Keep the sessions short at first, and don’t get frustrated if your dog jumps off or tries to jump off in the beginning. Use positive reinforcement methods and reward good behavior rather than punishing the dog for its mistakes.
Traction Pads & Other Accessories
Many paddleboards are made with material to keep whoever is on it from slipping, but you can also purchase attachable traction pads separately, to keep your fur friend steady on his feet! The best thing is to purchase the ideal paddleboard right away, but if you have one that needs an update or two – consider a traction pad.
Other than that, the only thing you truly need is that life jacket for your dog, and possibly one for yourself too. These can occasionally be found in pet stores, but your best bet is to look online for a better selection. You will also want to bring water for your dog, but this should be left on shore while out paddling.
Paddleboarding with your dog can be an incredible experience for the two of you, provided you take proper precaution and have the patience to teach your dog to stay calm while out on the water.
All dogs are different and may require variating learning times, and some simply don’t enjoy paddle boarding. It is worth a try to see if your pooch can get used to it, and if so – you’ll be ready to head out on adventures together!