Stand Up Paddle Boarding: Tips to SUP Safely With Your Pup

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What’s stand-up paddling? Is it a new type of recreational activity that combines gauntlet running with boating? No. It’s more like a cross between canoeing and surfing. Basically, stand-up paddling involves a flat board, similar in some ways to a surf board, and a paddle. The board is a bit thicker than a traditional surf board, however, and many of them are inflatable.

What might be new is the addition of dogs. Yes, dogs. Some owners apparently take their best friend with them. Such is the case with Seth, an adopted dog rescued from a shelter and introduced to the world of stand-up paddling (SUP).

Seth’s love of SUP’ing began one week after his new owner had him home. The trick, according to her, was to make him comfortable with the board from day 1. His owner let him sniff the board all over, she put toys on it, and even gave him treats on it. Eventually, Seth would go there of his own free will and hang out, take a nap, and play on it.

When it came time to go SUP’ing, it was a no-brainer. He loved it. He even board-hopped (as long as he could see his owner).

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How To Get Your Dog To SUP With You

Step 1: Get a good board. SUP-board.org has some of the best stand up paddleboards for sale. And, you can learn a lot about the hobby from them if you’re not familiar with it.

Inflatable boards aren’t your standard board, but they’re probably ideal if you plan on taking your dog out with you. They typically have an inflatable underside with a traction pad lining the top of the board. This makes it much easier for you and your pup to SUP. You’ll also need a paddle and the usual safety gear.

Step 2: Get the dog used to the board. Getting the dog used to having the board around is important – like, really important. Needless to say, SUP’ing without a board doesn’t make for great SUP’ing.

Let the dog sniff the board, lay next to it. Do not force doggie onto it though, as this could make him or her afraid of it – bad human. Bad.

Do encourage dog to get on the board of his own free will. If you need to coax him with treats, do it. Just make sure the dog is comfortable and walks up onto the board under his own power.

Step 3: Put treats on the board. Dog treats can be used to entice her onto the board too. If you’re having trouble getting dog near the board, place a few doggie snacks up there and walk away. You might just hear the munch, munch, munch of victory.

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Step 4: Teach your pup commands for the board. Ultimately, you want dog to get on the board when you want her to, not when she feels like it. The treats-on-the-board trick is an excellent way to do this, but not the only way.

You could put toys up there too, and make the command more or less a signal for playtime. If you can manage a straight-up command, all the better.

Once you’ve got the “on board” command down, you’re ready to take dog out for a ride. But, before you rush to the water, make sure you have safety gear for both of you.

While most dogs can swim if pushed into it, some don’t like the water. And, there’s really no reason to risk your dog’s life over a misplaced feeling that all dogs should inherently be good swimmers. As odd as it sounds, some dogs aren’t.

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Step 5: Practice with your pup

Step 6: Go out on the water. At the end of the day, there’s no substitute for going out on the water with your dog. That’s where the magic happens. If your dog doesn’t like water, you’ll know. A lot of smaller dogs feel right at home on the board, and won’t want to leave your side.

If you want to make sure your dog is secure, fit him or her with a life jacket. Don’t put a leash on your pup while you’re out on the water because it could strangle him if he falls in. Also, if your dog is afraid of the water, you’re going to have to work to overcome that fear before you SUP.

Jennifer Roberts grew up 10 minutes from the sea, in Auckland, NZ. She spent every summer at the beach camping with her family. When Stand Up Paddle Boarding started in her town she had to try it. It’s now built into her lifestyle from early morning paddles to sunset surfing. Jennifer believes it is a sport you have to try.

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