SUP With Your Pup!

You’ve discovered SUP (stand up paddleboarding) and you love being active with your dog, so…… why not try to SUP with your pup? Here’s how  to create a fun and safe experience for you and your canine companion.

You need four things for safe stand up paddleboarding with or without your pup:

  1.  A wide and stable stand up paddleboard with enough volume to keep you and your furry friend buoyant.
  2.  A properly sized paddle.
  3.  A leash to keep you attached to your board.
  4.  A PFD, personal floatation device, in the form of a vest or inflatable waist belt. This is a US Coast Guard regulation.

Now to accommodate your pet we need a few more things:

  • A standup paddleboard with a full deck pad to provide traction for your dog to reduce the chance of slipping off.
  • An appropriately sized life vest for your dog.
  • A leash for your dog. Unlike your SUP leash, this one attaches to a collar.

Having the gear is only part of the checklist. Before you paddle with your pooch it’s recommended:

  • You be an experienced paddler. By this we mean that you can move easily from kneelng to standing and back to kneeling. You also need to properly handle the paddle and know how to maneuver the board with a variety of paddle strokes. In the event of water landing you need to be able to get your tail wagging friend back on the board.
  • A MAXIMUM combined weight for you and your dog that doesn’t NOT exceed the volume of your board.  Check your specs.
  • Your dog to be no more than 35 lbs. You need to be able to lift your dog up in case of that water landing discussed above. It is a possibility.
  • Your dog MUST be comfortable with water and know how to swim. Some dogs are too comfortable with water and would rather be “in it” than “on it” and this can be a challenge to this whole SUP + Pup adventure. We prefer the “Goldilocks” effect of “just right” in their desire for the water.
  • Your dog MUST be comfortable wearing a life jacket. This is mandatory for water safety.
  • A well behaved and trained dog when off leash, as will be the case while they are on the board.
  • Preferably spend time exercising your dog before you arrive. A tired dog tends to mellow out for a more pleasurable and smoother ride
Additional items for a pleasant paddling experience:

  • Water for all the mammals riding the board,
  • Dog poop pickup bags
  • Treats for bribery and rewards
  • A dry bag to store it all in

When you’ve gotten the necessary equipment needed for a safe paddling journey, consider your “float plan”,  where to go given the conditions of the bay. Check three things just to be safe.

  1. Tide and current
  2. Weather, particularly the wind
  3. Activity on the bay (sailing races, unusual boating traffic, safety such a ripping current)
  4. Once you know the conditions, consider what route to take for the best outcome.

When you have all your necessary gear,  you’ll be ready to launch. Things to consider are:

  • Stroke techniques in case you need some pointers for best performance.
  • Do a dry test run with Rover by having your dog get on the board while it’s flat on the dock or beach
  • Consider the best positioning of you and your pet.
  • Consider how to best retrieve your pup if they take a plunge.
  • Consider how to return to the dock or beach safely and get back on

The order of events go something like this:

  1. Adjust your paddle height.
  2. Attach board leash to your ankle.
  3. Invite your dog to join you on the board.
  4. Have your dog find a spot to rest and sit or lay low.
  5. Hop on board and position yourself on or very near the handle and kneel or sit on your heels.
  6. Remove the dog’s leash and stash it.
  7. Move away from the dock or beach and practice paddle strokes before entering the channel where boat traffic is busier.
  8. Once you are both comfortable you can move to standing.
  9. Go have an adventure!

 Most importantly, don’t forget about TREATS! They are essential to help motivate your pup to get out and paddling!