Paddle boarding with your dog can be incredibly fun and rewarding. It’s a perfect opportunity to get outside and bond with your favorite furry friend. Perhaps you see the pictures of others on the water with their dog and would like to do the same, but aren’t sure where to start. Here are some helpful tips that will hopefully have you and your dog out on the water in no time.
Use the right Board: With the added weight and potential additional movement of your dog, it’s important to use a board that can support the combined weight of you and your dog. It’s recommended that you use a board longer than 10’ and at least 32” width. Nearly every Paddle North board is perfect for your pup, with the Norsemen being the lone exception. Paddling with your dog on the Norsemen is totally possible, it's just recommended for more experienced paddlers.
Be sure your dog enjoys the water: It’s normal for most dogs to be a little nervous their first time out on a paddle board, but if there is any health or trauma risk if they fall in, it’s best to look into other outdoor activities for them.
Be sure your dog understands basic commands: It’s important that your dog follows some basic rules when out on the water. It's generally better for them to not be super active on the board, as the more they move the harder if will be for you to balance. Having your dog follow basic commands like “Sit” and “stay” would be a helpful thing for them to know.
Buy a life jacket for your dog: Many dogs are very strong swimmers, but a life jacket is still important when on a paddle board. You never know what you may encounter, or if they might fall off. Most dog life jackets also make it easy to pick up your dog quickly if they fall in and have trouble getting back on the board.
Introduce your dog to the board: Before going out on the water, it’s a good idea to get your dog acquainted with the paddle board. Allow them to sniff it, walk on it, sit on it, etc. Depending on how well trained your dog is, you can practice staying and sitting on the board and using treats to reward them. This is also a good opportunity to get them used to wearing a life jacket.
Pack some treats: There’s nothing more reliable than dog treats to help train them to sit, stand, and be still on a paddle board. Having some readily available, especially your first time out, will prove to be very helpful.
Start out slow and low: Both you and your dog will be getting used to the change in stability your first time out on the water. We recommend starting on your knees so that you can focus on getting your dog comfortable. This will help keep you and the board more stable until you feel it’s appropriate to stand up. We also suggest paddling slow or floating for a bit until your dog has become more comfortable with being on the water.
Just Go for it: There is only so much preparation and training you can do, so eventually you just need to push off the shore and see what happens! It may take a few minutes for your dog to get accustomed to the paddle board, and perhaps they will be a little anxious at first. It shouldn’t take long for them to start relaxing and enjoying their new water activity with you.