Updated: May 16
Stand-up paddleboarding is a great sport on its own, but add your furry companion and you’ve got yourself endless possibilities for great adventures. It is a low-impact sport that provides both mental and physical stimulation for dogs of any age and fitness level. In this blog, Certified Canine Rehab Practitioner and avid stand-up paddleboarder @Natacha Paquette shares advice on how to introduce your dog to SUP!
Before getting out on the water, it is important to make sure your dog is comfortable on the board on land. Here 4 tips on how to get your dog adapted to your SUP:
1. Walking on/off the board: Start off by putting a lifejacket on your dog to get them used to wearing it. Then, have your dog walk on the board. Repeat a few times until your dog catches on and does it naturally and comfortably.
2. Sitting on the board: Have your dog step onto the board and command him/her to sit.
3. Lying down on the board: Have your dog walk on the board, then command to sit and finally ask him/her to lie down.
4. Lying down for 10 minutes: Lastly, have your dog stay in a lying down position for an extended amount of time (5-10minutes). For this effort, you can offer a treat! *Always be sure to use encouraging words and praise, and offer treats to reinforce a positive behavior such as walking, sitting, and lying down on the board.*
Once you’ve mastered this, it’s time to move forward and introduce your dog to the water.
1. Start somewhere shallow and in calm water where you can easily get on the SUP yourself. Ask your dog to walk onto the board just as you’ve done on land and continue to offer praise and treats.
2. Ask your dog to sit, and then from there, command them to lie down, just like you practiced (praise + treats).
3. Once your dog lies down, get on the board and kneel behind your dog.
4. Splash some water. Some dogs may react when water hits their paws causing them to back up in a panic and likely fall off leading to a stressful experience. To reduce the chances of that happening, gently splash a bit of water on their paws (again, offer praise and treats). If your dog takes well to that bit of water, gently splash a bit more and more. If your dog takes well to that, it’s time for you to start paddling.
5. Start in a kneeling position, allowing your dog to lie down or sit between your legs for comfort while you start paddling and your dog gets the first sense of motion on the board.
6. If your dog seems to be calm and responding well, try standing up and continue to paddle.
7. If your dog seems to panic at any point, try kneeling back down to help reassure them.
I recommend that these steps are done over the course of a few days or even weeks. If you plan on going paddling on a certain date, be sure to prepare your dog a few days ahead of time and start slow. The more sense of familiarity, the better the experience is likely to be for both yourself and your dog.
Life vests/jackets: I personally like any life vest that has sturdy clips as opposed to velcro. It's also wise to choose a life vest that has a handle on top, so you don’t risk dropping your dog when trying to lift them back onto the board if they happen to fall in the water.
Attach your dog board to the board with a leash. This is so that if your dog falls in the water, you can easily get him/her back to the board without them swimming to shore.
The Silver Shark Paw Pad. This specially designed pad fits on the front of every Silver Shark paddleboard. It allows your dog to feel more secure and comfortable. Plus it is designed to be non-slippery and it stops your dog from sliding off the board.
Adventure awaits! Thank you Natacha Paquette for writing this blog and sharing your insights.
Follow Natacha's Pet Rehab Centre, based in Ottawa @Rehabfuryourpet
Read more about Natacha's Pet Rehab Centre in our previous blog: 3 Entrepreneur Women Who Paddle!
Do you paddle with your dog? Tag us on Instagram @silversharkpaddleboards