Dogs and SUP’s: A Match Made in Heaven.

Dogs love having a good time, and unlike cats, they don’t mind getting wet on an adventure. This makes them the perfect pet to take out on a stand up paddle board. You may not believe it, but dogs, since they are natural swimmers, are actually pretty good on a paddle board with a little bit of patience and training. Check out this guy and his dogs as they paddle board! We think that dogs on paddle boards is an awesome trend, and we would love to see more dogs enjoying the water in this way. So if you’re a dog owner and love to try new things, consider training your dog to stand up paddle board with you. It is a great activity for you and them to enjoy together, and we will give you some great training tips to help you get your dog on a board too!

Bring the Board Inside

The very first step to getting your dog on the board and out on the water is to make them comfortable with the paddle board. Bring your paddle board inside and place it somewhere where your dog can sniff, inspect, and get comfortable with it. The main goal here is to show your dog that the paddle board is safe and fun. You don’t want them to fear the board. For a week or two let them explore and inspect the board at their own pace before getting more involved in the process. 

Use Treats 

After a week or so, start using treats to encourage your dog to stay on the board. A good strategy is to place one of their treats on the board in a place that requires them to get on it in order to eat the treat. Once your dog is on the board reward them with another treat. Ask them to sit and then reward them yet again with another treat. Your dog is going to learn very quickly that it is rewarding for them to be on the paddle board. An important note to keep in mind for dog owners who would like to stand up paddle board with their pooch: don’t get too worked up if your dog doesn’t get it right away. You want to keep the atmosphere fun and easy. Try not to stress them out or put too much pressure on them to get on the board and stay on the board. You want your dog to learn that the board is a fun place to be not a stressful one. 

Teach Them Special Commands 

Command words like sit, and stay work great with dogs. Similar to these command words you should use unique command words just for the paddleboard. Training your dog to follow the command word for the paddle board will help ensure that your dog doesn’t jump off the board at unexpected times and toss you off the board in the process. Once your dog begins to get comfortable getting on the board to get treats, introduce the command word and only give your dog a treat once they get on the paddle board after you use the command word. The same thing goes for getting off the paddle board too. If your dog gets on or off the board without you using the command, they get no treat. They should begin to learn to follow your command words in order to get their treats. 

Practice Makes Perfect 

Now that your dog has begun to get comfortable getting on and off the paddle board, you need to practice being on the board with them too. The easiest place to start is in a seated position. Sit behind your dog. If they stay in their place while you are sitting behind them, reward them with a treat. You need to reinforce the importance of them staying in their position on the board even when you are present. After your dog has gotten the hang of you sitting behind them, try standing up and repeat the process of rewarding them with treats if they stay put. Remember, this is not an overnight process. It may take weeks for some dogs to get comfortable doing this. Be patient, and take it slow. The more fun and rewarding and positive you make the experience for your dog, the more success you will have in the long run. 

If you have gotten to the point where your dog is comfortable with you standing behind them on the paddle board, introduce the paddle and gently rock the paddle board as you move the paddle in a paddling motion. Before your dog hits the water, they need to be comfortable with the rocking motion of the water and the motion of the paddle. Once again, reward your dog for staying in their position during this phase of practice. 

Time to Find Water 

Once you are comfortable that your dog has mastered the practice sessions, you can take your dog and your paddle board to the water. Before you get in and start paddling, it is recommended that you try to practice all of the above steps again. Your dog may respond differently in a different environment, and you want to be completely sure that your pup is ready to get on the water. Don’t be frustrated if you have to practice a few times near the water before your dog is ready to get in. 

When you’re feeling good push off and hit the water! Over time your dog will get more and more comfortable paddle boarding with you, but the first time out don’t expect to be perfect. There will probably be some tumbles and wet fur before the day is over. Be patient with your dog and give them lots of praise and positive feedback. Keep your first few times on the water short, and continue to give them treats and praise. In no time your pup will be a water pro just like you, and you will have the chance to go on a ton of aquatic adventures! 

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