Paddle boarding offers so many benefits to both physical and mental health and sharing the experience with your four-legged friend makes it even more rewarding. Adventures together can really help you bond with your canine companion too, strengthening trust and also improving training, as well as just having a great time together living in the moment.
Over the last few years we’ve seen even more paddlers taking to the water with their four-legged friends and while it is fantastic to give it a try, getting a dog acquainted with a paddle board is not always smooth sailing! So, to avoid too many impromptu dips in the water check out Red Paddle Co’s useful first-time tips for paddle boarding with your dog.
To keep you and your beloved dog safe we recommend using a dog buoyancy aid if you plan on taking your dog on a SUP. Dog buoyancy aids will reduce your dog's risk of drowning, as well as reducing the severity of common accidents. It gives the dog added confidence in the water should your dog get tired but also offers reassurance to you. It is worth investing in one with reinforced handles and well-placed foam. Aids such as these are designed to help dogs maintain a positive and comfortable swimming position and are really helpful when lifting your dog out of the water back onto the paddle board.
When setting up your SUP equipment, whether that be at home, on the beach or by the river, allow your dog to walk around and have a good sniff to get familiar with the board, the bag and even the sound of the pump. The more comfortable they get with the equipment you are using, the more confident they will be on the water. Having the right kit is key here too – a highly durable and stable board will give you a great platform. 10’8” Ride or all-round boards are a great option if you’re a bit of a beginner, or if you intend to take your dog out for longer adventures then something along the lines of Red’s touring board is a great match to consider.
Next-up, get your dog on to the board whilst still on the land. Have some Forthglade tasty natural treats or their favourite toy to hand and encourage your dog to walk over the deck of the board. Make a game of it by hoping on and off the board. Repeat this a few times so they get used to the feel of the board under their paws and remember always reward them with treats or a favourite toy.
Place your board half in and half out of the water and in the same way as you did in step three, use the toy or Forthglade treat by throwing it onto the part of the board that's on the water. This is a fun and interactive way to introduce the dog to the water and the board at the same time whilst keeping them relaxed with the environment around them.
So, you've got a new buoyancy aid and your dog has built-up loads of confidence on the beach – it is now time to take them on the water. Starting in shallow water invite your dog onto the board and gently move out while kneeling on the SUP. Once you are both comfortable and floating on the water, begin to paddle but remain on your knees with your dog in front of you. Take it step by step, paddle on your knees away from the shore and gently return to the beach, allowing the dog to hop off the board and back again, for another little paddle. Once you've mastered paddling on the knees the next stage is about getting to your feet and then progressing to longer adventures. One step at a time - most importantly remain calm, have fun and always keep those treats to hand – the tastier the better!
There are fantastic spots for paddle boarding all around the UK, we've picked our 10 favourites for paddle boarders to explore.