Paddleboarding with your dog can be a lot of fun, but it can also present some interesting challenges for you. Here are some tips to keep things fun and safe.
Can your dog swim? You probably want to test this out before you get on a board and paddle away from the shore.
A life vest is a good idea for all dogs even if they are proficient swimmers. You may get very far from shore and if you, your board and your dog get separated you want to make sure Fido is safe. It also provides a convenient handle to hoist the dog back on the board should he end up in the water.
If your dog is hesitant about getting on the board you can try luring him with treats, his favorite toy or something else that resonates with your pooch. Start with the board on land so it doesn’t have the added scariness of the movement of the water. Once he is comfortable on land, start with short trips and build up to longer outings.
Expect that your dog will move around on your board. Depending on his or her size, that can make paddling a whole lot more challenging. Our friend has a 55 pound dog and when she decides to cross step the length of the board, it definitely throws off the weight distribution on the board. With a little getting used to, you can adjust most of the time, but there will almost undoubtedly be times when you are surprised by her (or his) sudden move.
Make sure that you are able to get back on your board easily and that you are able to get your dog back on the board. With those life vest handles small dogs are easy to scoop up…larger dogs can usually do the work with a handle-assisted boost.
Consider putting something on your board for traction if your dog has trouble holding on. We have started using a bathmat with little suction cups all over the bottom. We can easily move the mat from board to board and the little suction cups won’t hurt the finish. There are other options for traction-monster paint is a clear paint with silica in it to provide grip. But should you fall on it, it is like falling on sandpaper. Wax is another inexpensive but messy option.
Bring water for your dog. Just like humans in the heat, they will need to hydrate. Some dogs will drink the water you are paddling in, and if it’s freshwater, that’s probably not so bad. But if you are in saltwater, you need to provide drinking water.
Be careful when you arrive at your final destination. If Fido is prone to taking off, he might book it when given the chance. You will have to plan your approach accordingly so you maintain control of him.
Paddle boarding with your dog should be a fun experience for both of you. You know your dog best, so if it isn’t going the way you would like it to, think of what motivates your dog and start there. You might have to take some steps back before taking steps forward, but in the end it will be worth it.
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