How to Paddle With Your Pup.
The wagging tail. Yips of excitement and a few loud barks. My family dogs love stand up paddling. So much so, that if I leave without taking them. They go absolutely crazy and let the entire lake know that they are being left behind.
Over the years I have brought my sisters pups out on the water, as well as a few friends. And even our family rabbit. But people always ask how do you get the dogs to get out on the board.
Hopefully these tips will help your pup enjoy paddling with you.
Let's start with the equipment.
Boards There are a variety of boards out there. And pretty much any of them will work. Ones with a full deck pad are my favorite as it gives the pups something to hold onto and it also protects the board from scratches. If that is not an option a yoga mat folded up at the nose can work or one of the shower/tub mats. The size of the board will depend on the size of your dog. If you have a small pup, then the board you paddle normally can work. For bigger dogs you'll want something that can handle the increased weight. The simplest way to sort that out is to check the recommend weights of the paddlers for the boards and add your pups weight to yours. A big stable board is my recommendation to start with. I use the Lido 11'6 by Surftech and it allows me to bring both pups with me.
Lifejacket or Harness If your pup isn't the greatest swimmer this is a great option. But many of the lifejackets have a handle on the back making it easy to pick them up if they fall or jump off. This does happen more often than not. Getting them back on board can be a challenge and sometimes send us for a swim. The harness or lifejacket makes it a bit easier to deal with.
Getting them on board. A pocket full of treats goes a long ways. And start by getting them used to the feeling before heading out on the water. Whether on shore, the grass or in the house. Put a few treats on the board. Encourage them to hang out a bit. Stand on the board, with the fin out, just as if you were paddling.
Baby steps. Some dogs may jump on board and be naturals. Like paddlers. Others may take a few times for them to understand what is happening. It may just be getting them on the board at first. Then maybe a few feet from shore. And then a small trip.
Swimming is part of the process. Being ok with getting wet will make the process a bit easier on you both. Even to this day I'm never 100% confident that I'm going to stay dry with the pups on board. A fellow pup goes by, a curious boater or wildlife. It can send the pups into that excitement mode and putting us in the water.
Here's another great article with some more information on getting on the water with your fury friend!