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How to SUP with Your Dog

So human, you’ve mastered the art of stand-up paddle boarding and think it’s time to bring your four-legged significant other out on the water? Great news for you and your pet! Although it can take people a while to get the hang of SUP, dogs are born naturals. San Diego based dog trainer Lara Schindler asserts: “any dog can do it.” Whether your pooch is large or small, he or she will make a great addition to the end of your board. Paddle boarding is a fun way to stimulate and entertain a dog, while being great exercise for the owner as well. Paddle boarding with a pet has become so popular that a Santa Cruz, CA animal shelter puts on a popular event every year with increasing participation! The proceeds raise funds for the shelter. But beyond philanthropy, Paddle boarding with your dog can simply be a fun, healthy activity for you and your furry child to share! Pup Sup has even become so popular that an entire book has been written on this topic: How to Sup With Your Pup by Maria Christina Shultz. But, we thing you guys are smart enough to simply follow the few simple tips we’ve laid out for you below to get you and Spot out on the water.

Despite their natural affinity for balance and water sports, there are a few basic steps you should observe before turning your pup into a boarding sensation:

  • Make sure your pup is familiar with basic commands; “sit” and “stay” are essential to keeping your dog from getting spooked on the board. If your puppy still likes to disobey commands, you may want to wait until he is better trained before trying SUP together.
  • Familiarize your dog with stand-up paddle boarding on land before entering the water. You know how surf instructors make their pupils ride mock-waves on the sand before surfing real waves? Same concept.
  • Practice boarding on a lake or bay before hitting the open ocean. Large waves may startle your furry friend, and cause both of you to lose balance.

If you want to be extra safe, doggy life preservers are a useful and stylish way to ensure that if your dog falls off, he’ll be safe and easily retrievable in the water. These life preservers also offer a convenient handle to pull your dog out of the water should he or she slip off the board.

Maintain an assertive yet calm and happy voice. If your pup hears that you are having fun he’ll be less nervous and more inclined to have fun too!

Beyond these basic steps it is simply important to be aware of what works (or doesn’t work) for both of you. If your dog tends to slip around, consider attaching a non-stick bath mat to the front of your board. If she is adventurous, try riding a couple of waves. If he is timid, cruise along peacefully on the lake. Also, it is important to remember that every dog is different. Some may love to come boarding with you right away, while others may never catch on. But above all, consider yourself lucky that you can share this awesome hobby with your dog.