Stand up paddleboarding is a fun sport for people who love taking control of their boards without being toppled over by a huge wave. It’s so different from surfing that a lot of stand up paddleboarders feel comfortable bringing their own dog. Yes, you’ve read that right, you can bring your dog with you out in the water!
But the real question here is – how do you do it? As early as now, know that training your dog to stay with you on a paddleboard will be difficult. You need to train your dog. And if your dog has a hard time learning how to sit or stand still on the board, there might be a learning curve for both of you!
Still ready to teach your dog to go with you when you paddleboard? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you and your dog out.
10 Easy Steps to Train Your Dog When You Paddleboard
Here are 10 easy steps that will help you train your dog for your stand up paddleboarding sessions.
1. Check if your dog can swim.
The first that you have to do is to find out if your dog can swim. A lot of dog owners assume that all dogs can swim. While this is partly true, some dogs don’t like water or they have a hard time swimming. If you have a bathtub or a pool at home, it’s best to try there.
Of course, it’s a whole different story if your dog doesn’t know how to swim. While that’s not part of the conversation here, all you have to know is that before you even introduce paddle boarding, make sure your dog likes the water.
2. Introduce your dog to the board at home.
When you’re sure your dog can swim, then it’s time to introduce your board. No, don’t go to the water just yet. There’s so much to learn at home.
The first thing you should do is introduce your board. The point of this step is to make your dog familiar with the board so that they don’t get afraid of it. It’s a lot like building a connection between your dog and the board.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to place the board in a comfortable spot. This spot shouldn’t be too high for them to reach. It’s best not to change where your board is. That way, your dog will be familiar with where it’s usually placed.
3. Reward your dog when they go to the board.
When your dog starts to go to the board voluntarily, make sure that you reward them for their efforts. When it comes to training dogs, the technique ‘positive reinforcement’ always works. In other words, for every right action your dog does, reinforce that behavior by giving them a treat right after.
Why right after? By giving the treat immediately after your dog goes on board, it immediately recognizes that what they just did was a good thing. So if they want more treats, they’ll continue to do that. If they continue to do this, then they’ll be comfortable with your board in no time.
4. Teach commands on the board.
Commands are important for proper communication while out on the water. Commands like going on the board, getting off of it, sitting, and standing are some of the important things your dog should know.
Similar to how you taught your dog to go to the board voluntarily, you’re going to do some positive reinforcement here. Start small by having commands for going on the board and getting off. Whenever they get your command right, give them a treat.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t force your dog to learn all commands right away. Some dogs learn easily while some have more reluctance. When they don’t get it, don’t force them. Don’t shout at them either. Remember that you have to build a positive connection between your dog and your board.
5. Practice standing up and sitting with your dog.
If your dog is already familiar with the commands, then it’s time to test them out with you riding on. So step onto your board and give some of the commands your dog learned.
Do this step-by-step as you would when you’re already out in the water. Pretend that you just got on the board then call your dog to go with you. Tell it to sit while you shift positions, stand, etc. Don’t forget to give it a treat when it does your commands right!
Practice the moves several times over a few days to train your dog even further.
6. Bring them to the beach.
It’s finally time to bring your dog to the beach. Great!
When you’re on the beach, make sure that you’re prepared. This means that your dog should have its own pooch floating device (PFD). It’s like a life jacket for dogs. You should also have an emergency kit with you at all times. Bring water for you and your dog, too; you don’t want get dehydrated.
To add to that, it’s best to practice all the things your dog has learned just in case. Some dogs get a little disoriented with the change in surroundings, and that’s okay. That’s pretty normal.
7. Go out on the board by yourself.
After you’ve settled down with your dog on the shore, it’s time to go to the water. To ease your dog to the surroundings, it’s best if you let them stay on the shore while you go paddleboarding by yourself. This way, they will see you in action. They’ll probably understand what the board does when it’s out on the water.
As you go paddleboarding by yourself, don’t forget to wave to your dog. They’ll know that you won’t leave them. Besides, if they’ve learned to stay put, they won’t go after you either.
8. Bring your board to shallow water and call your dog to go with you.
Now go back to the shore because it’s time to finally take your dog with you. Remember, you should do it the way you practice. Meaning, stick to the commands your dog knows. Don’t try to invent other commands that they don’t know about.
Going back, stay on the shallow end of the water. Call your dog and command them to step on the board. No need to give them treats here since you’re hardly teaching them anything new. It helps to congratulate them for every command they do right.
9. Let your dog settle down while on the board.
If your dog has willingly gone on board with you, then that’s a good sign. They’re most likely to know what they’re doing even when you go to farther out to sea. But don’t go just yet. Slowly ease your dog to the feeling of being on a board on top of the water.
When it comes to your body language, it’s highly recommended that you don’t stand right away. While you’re still on shallow water, assume a kneeling position when you paddle. This helps you adjust better when your dog is in front of you.
During this time, you can ask your dog to sit or stand. Don’t forget to congratulate them when they get the commands right.
10. Be comfortable with your dog as you go to deeper water.
Finally, it’s time to actually move far from the shore. This can be difficult at first especially if you’re anxious about your dog. If you see signs that they’re scared or nervous, it’s best not to pursue the whole adventure. After all, you don’t want to bring your dog to develop that kind of fear.
However, if your dog seems to behave as if it knows what it’s doing, keep going. Of course, don’t stay long out in the sun. Aside from the fact that it’s your dog’s first time, too much sun exposure can also give them sunburn.
A Few Reminders
Dogs can be trained to do all sorts of things – including paddleboarding! If you’ve trained them well, then there’s hardly any reason for your dog to be afraid when you actually set out to test the waters.
However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t force your dog to go paddleboarding with you if the former is not comfortable or if they haven’t mastered the commands. Don’t risk bringing them out to sea when they’re not prepared. You’re going to regret doing so anyway.
Nonetheless, when you and your dog have mastered paddleboarding together after a few trips to the beach, you’ll realize that it’s so much fun. You and your dog will definitely have a great time going out in the sun and getting wet. Sure, not all dogs won’t be able to take on some waves but that’s no big deal.
As dog owners, don’t forget that dogs can be scared, too. The moment you see them anxious or scared, don’t force them. Don’t even think about scolding them. Always be patient and kind all throughout their paddleboarding training.