Introducing Your Dog To Paddle Boarding

There's nothing greater than sharing a hobby you love with your bestfriend. Taking your dog on an adventure may seem daunting, but we'll teach you how to warm your pup up to SUP and help him love it too!

They say Labradors love swimming, well my dog Mowgli took around 3 years to learn his love for paddle boarding. I let him get comfortable at his own pace. Even though I had grand dreams of paddling the beautiful lakes of Utah much sooner.

So obviously, the first question you need to answer is can your dog swim or do they even enjoy the water. We’ve all seen people forcing their pups to do things they don’t want and it doesn’t look fun for either of them. Slowly introduce them and let them get a feel for bodies of water.

Important Tip: Get a puppy life jacket. Even if your dog loves water, being in the middle of a lake is dangerous. That’s why most places force us humans to at least have them on our board by law.

How do you train a dog to use a stand up paddle board?


Off-Water Training

Start inside or in the backyard by laying out your board. Let them sniff around, especially the tail. Toss a treat on the board and make them walk back and forth to get used to the softer and harder more slippery sections.

If it’s possible, consider throwing a little water on the board to make the experience even more realistic.


On-Shore Training

Once they know what that thing mom or dad straps on the car is they will be curious to see where you take it.

It’s easiest if you have someone to watch your dog on the shore as you take a short paddle within eyesight. This will let them know it’s safe to float on the paddle board.

Or separation anxiety might have them come to try and rescue you. Either way, they are learning.

Paddle Boarding with your Dog

First Day Paddling with Your Dog

Now it’s time to get that pup on your sup. Preferably, drag the sup half-way onto the shore and coax the hound on, they will get to understand the instability once it’s on water.

You can wade out with just them on the board and have them walk around, a bit of leg shaking is almost certain.

Then hop on with them. Boom, you are paddling with your dog. Well, maybe not quite yet. Start on your knees and get some strokes in, otherwise you and dog both might get tossed off quickly.

Once you can stand and paddle, your dog will usually find its perch. Whether that’s at the bow, tail or awkwardly between your legs. It doesn’t matter at this point, you are having fun and they are comfortable.

It’s important to watch out for dog distractions and make sure your gear is properly strapped down because the “squirrel” instinct is real.

All too many times a bird, another dog, or an actual squirrel can send you both swimming. Laugh it off and do your best to get the pup back on the sup.


shop inflatable paddle boards


Best SUP for Your Pup

The 2 main factors in choosing a paddle board to train your dog on are stability and deck pad material. Touring and racing boards with narrow profiles and tiny deck pads are definitely poor choices unless you are in the chihuahua size club.

For most, a full-length soft deck pad will be most comfortable and a solid width in the board will help.

Will My Dog’s Claws Pop my Inflatable SUP?

While I can’t speak for all sups, I do know that Glide’s O2 Fusion inflatable boards will hold up mighty fine. Unless you have sharpened your dog claws into Chinese daggers these boards and deck pads are primetime pup paddlers. Besides you should be manicuring your dog’s claws on a regular basis anyway.

 Paddle Board Dog

Gear To Bring Paddling with Your Dog

Just like yourself, your dog will need some specialty items to safely and effectively enjoy the dog days on the lake. Here are a few essentials:

  • PFD Pet Flotation Device. You both should have one of these, hopefully in different shapes.
  • Waterproof Treat Bag. This will help get your dog back if “squirrel” happens.
  • Dog Towel. Unless you like to share, but we prefer our own.
  • Dog Bowl. Depending on the body of water, sometimes it’s just best to let them drink the same as you. It may save you a mess or a potentially high vet bill. Don’t forget the water!

 Puppy on Paddle Board

Go Paddle with that Pup

Now you have some knowledge, have done some training with the board and commands.

Go have fun with it, it may be a disaster at first. But give it time and most dogs will enjoy spending that time with you.

They deserve to be adventurous as well. Plus it’s a great time to get that gram and make sure to use #glidesup we would love to see your furry friends in action.


Related Topics

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Most Common Paddle Boarding Mistakes

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Is SUP a Difficult Water Sport?