How to Share Paddleboarding Adventures With Your Pup

How to Share Paddleboarding Adventures With Your Pup

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) has grown a lot over the years, and as most dog people do, we want to share this new, fun activity with our four-legged friends. SUPing is a great way to get out of the house, beat the heat, and get in a good workout. When we have our dogs join in the adventure, we are helping them in more ways than you probably know. SUPing is not only a great workout for dogs, it's a great way to work on impulse control and focus in different situations. It also builds confidence and teamwork skills between you and your dog. Here's an outline to help you get started SUPing with your pup.

Step 1: Fetch a Paddleboard and a PFD for Your Pup

Of course, with any new activity comes new gear, but we don't recommend going out and buying a SUP right away! Rent a couple boards first to see what you like and what works best for you and your dog. Most rental companies don't mind if you take your dog with you, and often times, they will help you choose an appropriate board with more grip for your pup. We recommend getting a pretty big board to start off with. The bigger the board, the more stable you and your dog will feel. You want to be able to focus on the task of SUPing and not worry about being on a board that is too squirrely. We also recommend that both you and your dog wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) at all times.

Step 2: Get Your Dog Comfortable With the Paddleboard on Land

Now the fun stuff, how do you get your dog comfortable on the SUP? The first thing you're going to do is keep your board on shore and remove the fins (this is super easy to do!) and lay the board flat, deck side up. This gives your dog a visual reference of where they should sit on the board. Grab a high-value treat, like a Zuke's Z-Filet, and give them rewards for walking onto the board. This may be difficult for some dogs, so take your time and use lots of treats to help them realize that the board is a positive thing to go onto. When you have them freely walking onto the board, work toward having them lay down. Having your dog practice a down when the board is on shore will help them to learn that when they’re on the board, they should lay down. This association will help everyone to stay on the board when you're on the water.


Step 3: Take It to the Water

SUP with pup photo by Gentle CanineThe next step is getting the board in the water. Keep the nose of the board on shore so it doesn't float away. Then, repeating the same protocol as above, get some high-value treats and reward your dog for getting on the board when it's floating. This part is easier if you have someone to help hold the board steady.

When you have your dog offering sits and downs on the board when it's on shore, you can go ahead and join them on the board and take off. We recommend to start off sitting on the board. That way, you both can get a feel for the board and you don't fall off when your dog moves around. When you're floating around, try shifting your weight back and forth. This will help your dog get used to the feel and movement of the board. As with all new skills and training, take your time and have fun working toward your goal of standing up and paddling around with your dog.

Not only is paddleboarding a fun outdoor activity to share with your pup, it also provides some training and physical benefits. Paddleboarding is a low-impact sport that is great for working out and stabilizing the muscles of older dogs and puppies. If you have a senior pup who can't handle big hikes or trail runs anymore, paddleboarding is a great way to get them outside and moving around safely. It's also a good way to help your pup get some physical activity and cool off on a hot summer day. 

SUPing is one of those excellent endeavors that provides training opportunities as well as outdoor recreation for you and your furry best friend! As with all activities, remember to keep your dog safe and happy. Stop on shore regularly for potty breaks, bring lots of yummy treats to help with training, remember the appropriate gear, and don't forget the sunscreen!


Maria Christina Schultz, author of "How to SUP With Your Pup", also contributed images to this post. Check out her adventures on Instagram at @sup_with_pup.



About the Author

Amber Pickren, Gentle Canine

Amber Pickren, BA, CPDT-KA, is the owner of Gentle Canine in Durango, Colorado. After earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology, Amber found her passion working with dogs and has never looked back. With a specialty in behavioral issues, she has been training dogs since 2004 and easily handled over 10,000 dogs in the span of her career. Amber and her husband Matt share their life with dogs Lilly, Imogene, and cat Dyno. They love getting out into the mountains and enjoy rock climbing, trail running and hiking with their four-legged adventure buddies.

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Amber Pickren, Gentle Canine