You are looking for an inflatable paddle board but you don’t want to sit your pup at home all day bb himself barking at the neighbors. So you ask the question “Can dogs go on inflatable paddle boards? Are They Safe?
Yes, dogs can go on inflatable paddle boards. Inflatable paddle boards of today are made of multiple layers of durable PVC material. Inside the PVC are thousands of drop stitch fibers that keep the board’s composition. So claws and paws won’t be a problem.
However just because you CAN let your dog on an inflatable paddle board doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park! (see what I did there? No? Ok)
In this article, we will walk both you and your sup dog through how you can paddle board together and enjoy what your local waterways have to offer.
Let’s get started!
Paddle Boarding With Your Dog is Easier When..
Dogs, just like us, have different anxieties and fears. Some breeds are more open to jumping into the water and taking a big old dip than others. If your dog is less than enthused about taking a dip, here’s a good guide to help with your dogs fear of water.
Below are some things that will greatly help the learning curve.
- Your dog is already a good swimmer and is comfortable in the water.
- Obedient and can do simple commands like sit, stay and lie down.
- Is not easily distracted.
- When your pup is comfortable off-leash.
- Your dog does not weigh over 100 lbs (Not a deal breaker but you just need to get a SUP with a big maximum weight capacity like Atoll 11 or Gili Meno 11’6″)
- You already know basic paddle boarding skills like turning, standing, tackling small waves.
- Your SUP has a large deck pad.
What You Need Before SUPing with Your Pup
We will divide this into two categories. Things You need and things your dog needs before tackling the sport of paddle boarding. Before you get that dog on a paddle board make sure you remember these accessories.
We have a full article on the Best Inflatable Paddle Boards for Dogs here.
We have a full article on the top paddle board dog accessories here.
- A wide and stable SUP (SUP Yoga boards like the NIXY Venice are great for this)
- Life Vest
- Phone or Device to call for emergencies
Your SUP PUP:
- A Good Dog Life Vest
- Water Bowl
- Sunscreen for areas like their nose, ears
- Leash (For training by shore ONLY)
A lot of what you bring will depend on how long you are paddling and where. Obviously, if you are doing a paddling camping trip the list will be significantly longer. But those adventured are reserved for super SUP PUPs who have lots of experience paddle boarding.
Some dogs are more at home in the water than others. For a real life example take a look at the below video. Its a good primer as how to handle the learning curve of dogs who are scared of water vs ones that jump in head first.
SUP PUP in Training: How to Paddle Board With Your Dog
Got everything you need? Good, now we can properly teach you and your dog how to paddle board together. You are going to start off inside your house (no water required) and then start to gradually make your way to the shore.
Start Off With The Inflatable SUP in your house
You want to start off with inflating your board and keeping it in a spot where you frequent often. The SUP may not be the center piece that you desired in your living room but it is essential for your dog to get comfortable around it.
Your dog will probably inspect it after a few back and forths wondering if its a dangerous crocodile. You can then start to encourage them to go on it by putting a treat on the board or their favorite toy.
Once they are comfortable enough to walk and sit on it it’s time to take it outside.
Get Both Your SUP and Your Pup Outside
Find a spot outside that has some space. This could be a park across your house, your backyard, or wherever else. Next, you will be teaching them some commands while on the board. The reason why we are going outside in this step is for them to associate this as an outdoor activity.
There are 4 basic commands that you will be teaching your dog. Most of them they should already know. Sit, stay, lie down and off! Next, you want to leash them and practice these steps with them on the board. The leash is useful to guide them along and give direction. When they do as you command, reward them with a treat. If they don’t, make them re-do the command.
As soon as they master this on the leash, take them off the leash with no distractions and follow up on these commands. To add a bit of foreshadowing for things to come, gently rock the board from side to side. If they are still sitting or lying on the board give them a treat!
Time to Head to the Water!
Find a peaceful spot with not a lot of activity and distractions and run the same program as above but this time on the shore. If your pup goes through the commands successfully, then you can bring your board to the shoreline, half of it in water, half of it out.
Next add the element of YOU! Have the back of the board in the water with the nose on the shore. with a lead invite him to jump up onto the board and then you sit behind them. If they keep staying, reward him with a treat. If they try to jump off, lead them back onto the board with the lead and try again.
If you have a hyperactive dog like a border collie then it’s best to get some energy out of them by playing fetch, going for a hike or running with them. They will then be more relaxed and cooperative when they burned all of that energy! I used to have a border collie so I know first hand how much energy these breeds have!-Editors Note
Pushing Off Into the Water
If your dog is comfortable with the SUP being partially in the water and is following your commands next its time to push off into the water.
When pushing off you can have your legs in the water for maximum control over the board while your dog is on the board. Make sure your dog is lying down when doing this and keep a close eye on their body language. They may be hesitant and try to get off. Afterall it is a pretty scary experience! Remember when you were first introduced to the scary abyss that was water?
If they start trying to get up, hold the lead and get them to lie down on the board again while talking calmly to them. If they continue lying down, reward them with another treat. Do not paddle out to the open water, but stick to the shoreline so they feel safe.
After you have done this for a little while and they are calmly lying down you can try kneeling. This will feel less balanced for both of you.
Your dog will anticipate this movement and try to move. Make sure to have full control of their leash and with soft encouraging words tell them it’s okay and that there is no need to panic. If your dog is relaxed and comfortably lying down while you are paddling by the shoreline kneeling, you can now try to stand.
You should already know how to stand on a paddle board at this point. If not, go practice before trying it with your dog!-Editors Note
As you get up to stand put your foot on the leash. If your dog struggles bend down and hold the leash or get back on your knees to reassure them.
You want to make the first trip is relatively short, ensuring that you are close to shore throughout. Your pup (and I’m sure you as well) has gone through a lot of emotions. Don’t worry though, both of you will get more comfortable paddling together the more you do it.
Going Forward Paddle Boarding With Your Dog
For your next few trips try paddling with your dog without the leash and see how they respond. There will always be distractions that will get in the way like ducks, geese, other paddle boarders, kayaks, and boaters. There will be times that both of you take a spill and that’s more than okay! It happens to us all!
As you gain more experience your dog will start to understand the balancing dynamics of the board and will know to stay close to the middle of the board
Make sure as you go further out on the water that your pup is wearing a dog PFD that has a handle. This is important because should they jump off you can grab them by the handle and place them back on the board. As your dog realizes what the PFD is actually used for they start to feel more invincible going into the water.
Just make sure you have treats handy so that you can run the commands with them. A few other things to keep in mind
- Before paddling with your dog you should be able to stand, steer and navigate small waves on your SUP by yourself (a paddle board class is recommended).
- Look for a board that is wide (32”-36” wide and is at least 10’6” and longer).
- Always go at your dog’s pace, never rush him or force him into doing something he doesn’t want to do.
- The first dozen times you should limit yourself to calm conditions when paddling together.
- When you are going near hazards like sharp barnacles, submerged logs or rocks its best to kneel/ sit as you are paddling around these obstacles.
- If you are planning on getting a SUP that can hold multiple people and a dog look for multi SUP’s like the Isle Megalodon.
- The Longer you plan to be paddling the more water and food you should bring. For paddles that last longer than an hour I recommend 2 water bottles for you and your pup.
So Can Dogs Go On Inflatable Paddle Boards?
Yes they absolutely can but make sure that you:
- Get them used to the board on land first
- Gradually introduce them to water
- Always make sure they wear a dog PFD when going out in the water
- They have enough food and water for the trip
- You always keep a positive and happy tone with your dog.
If your dog loves the water then this process will probably be easier for you and you can go through the steps quicker.