How to Paddle Board with Your Dog: The Ultimate SUP Pup Safety Checklist

How to SUP with a Pup
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Stand up paddleboarding is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with your adventurous, four-legged friend, but there are some important steps that you need to take to ensure your pup’s safety while out on the water.

In an effort to get this important message out to as many dog owners as possible, we created this fun infographic which explains how to safely go paddleboarding with your dog. Not only will this easy-to-follow, 9-point SUP pup safety checklist keep your dog safe on your paddle board, it will also make your time on the water much more enjoyable.

Whether you’re a dog owner, dog lover, or just a responsible paddler who is passionate about SUP safety, please help us get the word out by sharing. Thanks!

SUP Pup Safety Checklist
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#1: Make Sure that Your Dog is Wearing a Life Jacket

Even if your dog happens to be a strong swimmer, it’s important that your pup wears a dog life jacket. In addition to providing flotation, a dog PFD gives you a convenient grab handle to pull your four-legged paddle partner out of the water. If you happen to be brand new to paddling and don’t yet have personal flotation devices for you or your crew, be sure to check out our list of this year’s best SUP PFD options.

#2: Use Doggy Sunscreen on Your Pup’s Ears, Nose, and Belly (if Needed)

This will likely raise a few eyebrows, but many dogs need sunscreen just as much as we do. Especially vulnerable are your dog’s ears, nose, and belly, so bring along some dog sunscreen to avoid painful sunburn.

#3: Don’t Bring a Dog Leash Along as it can get Caught and Tangled

Dog leashes are an important safety accessory that all dog owners should be using — just not while paddling. A dog leash can get caught and tangled while you’re out on the water, becoming a potentially dangerous hazard for both you and your pup.

#4: Keep Your Dog’s Nails Trimmed

In addition to saving your own feet from getting cut, trimming your dog’s nails will protect your SUP deck and traction pad from scratches and damage.

#5: Avoid Rough Conditions — Choose a Calm Spot to Paddle

When paddling out with your pup, find a calm area without waves, strong currents, and motorized watercraft traffic. This is especially important in the beginning, when your dog is just getting comfortable on your paddle board. Also, sandy or soft river and sea beds are best as rocks, oysters, and other sharp objects can injure your pup’s paws.

#6: Make Sure that the Deck of Your SUP has Ample Traction for Your Dog

While inflatable paddle boards are a great choice for paddling with your dog, it’s ideal if your pup has some additional traction at the front of the board to stand on. While some boards have extended-length traction pads that are perfect for paddling with a pup, many are simply too short. If you find that your four-legged best friend is in need of additional grip, purchase self-adhesive traction pads and place them at the nose of your board.

#7: Make Sure that Your Dog is Comfortable Being on Your Board Before Paddling Out

Nothing will ruin a day on the water quicker than having a dog who is scared to death of paddling out. If your pup has never been on a stand up paddle board before, it’s easier and safer to train your dog first by allowing them to get familiar with your SUP on dry land prior to getting in the water. Teach your dog to stand up on the nose of your board by laying treats there and give them plenty of positive encouragement!

#8: Bring Along Treats and Plenty of Water

In addition to providing nourishment and hydration, these are great for encouragement and positive reinforcement. Make your pup’s paddling experience a positive one!

#9: After Paddling, Rinse Your Dog Well with Fresh Water as Saltwater can cause Irritation

While this may sound like common sense, you might be surprised at how many dog owners take their pup out for a paddle and then completely forget to rinse them off with fresh water. Keep your dog’s skin and coat in tip-top shape with a good rinse after your fun day on the water.

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