SUP with a dog - Recommendations for equipment and 3 tips to get started

SUP with a dog - Recommendations for equipment and 3 tips to get started

In the warm summer months in particular, people want to be close to the water. And of course it's also a great way for our dogs to cool off and be active. It is therefore not surprising that Stand Up Paddling with a dog is also becoming an increasingly popular trend. In this article we would like to take you with us into this wonderful pastime and give you lots of tips for the equipment and getting your dog used to a stand up paddle board.

What does SUP (stand up paddling) actually mean?

The abbreviation SUP stands for Stand Up Paddling or Stand Up Paddling. Translated, it simply means "stand-up paddling". So you stand on a special board and can move around using paddles. This fun is currently very trendy and is fun for the whole family. Therefore you will also see many people on their SUP with dogs.

The SUP board is easily inflated. After the activity you can let the air out again and thus stow it away. So you can also take your board with you on holiday with your dog - no matter whether you stay in Germany or go abroad.

SUP with a dog - why does the dog always have to be with you?

Only non-dog owners probably ask that question, right? But if you are wondering what it is good for your dog and how useful it is to do SUP with a dog, we would like to enlighten you.

An important point is of course that you spend time together and experience something. This promotes your relationship and automatically your bond. Many dogs just want to be there, no matter what you do as a caregiver. And so more and more dog owners are taking their dog with them on the SUP.

If you have ever stood on a SUP board yourself, you will know that it takes balance and a good sense of balance to stand securely. Our dogs are no different. And so your dog learns to balance on the SUP, which in turn leads to a good muscle build-up in the dog, which is also consistent. And all this with lots of fun! So you can imagine the waves like a balance board – just on the water.

Stand Up Paddling is fitness and fun and promotes your cohesion. And don't forget: Many dogs love water!

 At this point we would like to mention: Of course, the SUP with a dog is not suitable for "every dog". If your dog is scared or stressed despite getting used to it, then you should accept that from a certain point. In the course of this text we will tell you how you can build up the training with your dog.


Stand Up Paddling with a dog – what requirements should be met for this?
Of course, the most important thing is that your dog can swim! Of course you should also be able to swim.

As we have just explained to you, different muscle groups are also addressed by balancing on the board. For a tour on the SUP, your dog should be healthy. But not only the muscles and joints as well as bones should be able to withstand such a tour.

There should also be general basic fitness and basic commands should “work”. Stand Up Paddling with a dog is basically suitable for every dog. Please note, however, that puppies could be prone to daring reactions. Even with particularly large and heavy dogs, stand up paddling with a dog could be difficult. It is important that you make sure that the SUP board you choose can carry you and your dog well in terms of weight.

Of course, your dog should also feel comfortable in and around the water. Because it should be fun for both parties. If your dog is permanently stressed, this sport with a dog is not suitable for him.

Practice without your dog before you take your four-legged friend with you
But you should also meet some requirements. Because before you train your dog to ride a SUP, you should be able to stand reasonably securely on the board and perform some basic maneuvers such as turns and stops. Because only if you bring a certain basic routine with you can you give your dog security in the event of an emergency. Courses are now being offered in many regions to learn the basics and gain confidence.

More and more courses are also being offered where you can practice SUP with your dog and you will be shown how to get your dog used to the board. With a course you can first find out whether this sport is something for both of you. That way you don't buy unnecessary equipment that might just be lying around in the corner.

What equipment do I need for Stand Up Paddling with a dog?
The practical thing about SUP with a dog is that you don't need much. But especially when it comes to the equipment you need, you should definitely focus on quality and not make compromises. It is important that it suits you. In addition to the items mentioned above, please also make sure you have sunscreen, possibly a dry bag for utensils and a drinking bottle for you.

SUP with a dog - which board is suitable for this?
The bad news at this point: There is no such thing as THE perfect board. Because if you decide to buy your own Stand Up Paddle, you have to tailor it to you and your dog. Of course, the budget you have available and where you want to use the board (river, sea, lake) also play a role. Another very important point is the size of you and your dog and also your combined weight. And the width of the board also plays a role: Of course, a large dog like a Dalmatian needs a little more space than a Maltese, for example, to be able to turn.

There is a wide range of different SUPs. In the first step, calculate the total weight of you as a paddler and your dog + 2-4 kilos (depending on the breed of dog). Because your dog's wet fur adds a lot of weight to the scales. Your SUP board should be able to easily carry the calculated weight. If possible, there should still be air upwards. A good thickness for a SUP is 15cm. It is usually given in inches, so pay attention to the specification 6″ or 6inch.

The so-called touring boards and raceboards are usually very narrow, which is why they are not so suitable for SUP with a dog. Basically, they should be used by experienced paddlers with dogs. The narrower the board, the more restless they are in the water. That's why all-round boards and generally wider SUP boards are particularly suitable for SUP with a dog.

 A seat is included with some boards. So you can easily use the board as a kayak. This is a great way for beginners to catch their breath.

The coating ensures slip resistance

Also pay attention to the coating when buying: Because many SUP boards are now offered with coatings (“deck pad”), so that your dog stands more securely. Many SUPs are already equipped with such a surface and offer you a better grip. Alternatively, you can also order a so-called dog mat. This is simply glued to the board with double-sided adhesive tape on the SUP (already present on the mats) and gives your dog additional support.

Do the SUP boards get broken by the dog's claws?

Now you might be afraid that the dog's claws will damage the board, because after all these are inflatable boards. If you pay attention to a good basic quality, most SUPs can withstand dog claws very well. Nevertheless, you should be able to live with the fact that there may be superficial scratches.

In the end, your SUP should also be a commodity that you and your dog can have fun with. If you choose a good basic quality, you don't have to worry about your dog's claws. But what you can make sure is that the claws are not too sharp. You can avoid this by regularly trimming and grinding the claws.

Life jacket for dog and human

You might be thinking: Why a life jacket for you and your dog? Can we both swim? Safety should be a priority when SUP with a dog. Because even if you are both good swimmers, there is always a chance that one of you will have a cramp or another medical emergency. That's why good equipment should always include a life jacket.

And what good does it do you if the dog is well secured but you get into an emergency? That's why you should always give the safety of both of you at least the same weight.

Life jacket for the dog

Even if your dog is a good swimmer, he should wear a life jacket on a tour with the SUP. On the one hand, you can lift him back onto your board better with a life jacket. Because most life jackets have handles on the back and you should definitely pay attention to that. On the other hand, your dog can also unexpectedly have a dizzy spell or cramp.

In the world of life jackets for dogs, there is a huge range to choose from. 

In life jackets for people you will find life jackets and buoyancy vests or life jackets. Buoyancy vests are suitable if you can swim well and stay close to the shore.

A buoyancy vest is often used in water sports. It helps you float up in the water. However, you still have to have enough activity of your own to hold your position. Only a life jacket can save your life in the worst case. Because it ensures that you are turned head up on your back. This will prevent you from drowning even if you faint.

Whether you order a life jacket or a life jacket or buoyancy jacket is up to you. You have the greatest security with a life jacket.

Getting your dog used to a SUP
Basically, you should always get dogs used to new things. This is how your experience of SUP with a dog should start with training. Of course there are dogs that seem to have never done anything else in their lives. But it's fair if your dog gets the opportunity to familiarize itself with the board. Because if your dog has made a bad connection, it is not so easy to redirect it positively. Therefore we want to give you some tips on how to get your dog used to your SUP.

And at this point I would also like to point out that some dogs also need some time to get used to the life jacket. So you should do this even before you get used to the SUP. Please train to lift your dog by the handle. In this way, your dog quickly learns that you can lift it out of the water if the worst comes to the worst.

Step 1: The "dry runs"
First lay the inflated SUP on the solid ground and lure your dog onto it. It doesn't matter whether you do this with dog biscuits or toys or simply invite him onto your board and cuddle with him there. He should just be happy to come on board. You can then also stand on the SUP and move the board a little with your movement. Many dogs find it funny when it rocks. Reward your dog for standing or sitting still. You can also introduce a command so that your dog jumps on and off the SUP on its own.

If your dog is confident in this, you can also use the paddle and indicate movements. Because some dogs find that scary too. When the dry run is in place and your dog is relaxed, you can move the training to the water.

Step 2: SUP with dog - training on the shore
Now you can dare to go to the water. But you should train on the bank at the beginning. If you have the opportunity, the support of a second person can be helpful when training SUP with a dog. Put the SUP in the shallow water and let your dog get on the board. The important thing is that he goes voluntarily. You shouldn't wear it or even force it. Everything should be fun and funny. One or the other reward may of course also be given. During this training step you are not yet on the board, but stand next to it.

If your dog now dares to go on the SUP on its own and feels comfortable, you can move the board with your hand so that your dog notices that it could wobble a bit. Reward if he stays relaxed. If he panics, please stay calm yourself and lead off the board as a matter of course and then just back on.

Only when your dog gets along well with it can you sit or stand on the SUP and make the first paddle strokes. But have patience. It doesn't always have to work out right on the first day. Some dogs need a little more time to get used to something new. SUP with a dog also means being willing to give the dog the time it needs.

It is best to start sitting down. Because when standing you have less balance and it sways more. If you use the kayak function, you can get your dog used to the new situation better. When standing, you should generally practice alone first so that you get a good hold. Only then can you start a tour together with your dog.

 Step 3: The first small tours with the SUP with a dog

If the first exercises are not a problem for your dog, then you can finally start. Nothing stands in the way of SUP with a dog. Increase your tours slowly. And please also note where you are planning your tour. SUP with dogs is not allowed everywhere. Rivers have currents and can therefore be dangerous, especially for beginners. The water quality should also be right. So be sure to watch out for blue-green algae in stagnant water.

By the way: Many boards offer the option of attaching it to your ankle using a device. You should definitely use that. Because if you should fall into the water, the SUP cannot drift away from you. This is especially important when you are on moving water, such as a river or canal.

It's also a great idea if you know other people who like to do SUP with dogs. A tour with several people is a lot of fun and also offers more security. If the worst comes to the worst, someone can support you or call for help. And experiencing something together with other people and dogs is double the joy, isn't it?

Conclusion: SUP with a dog is a great leisure activity

SUP with a dog is really fun! You can enjoy time together, relax on the water and in nature and recharge your batteries. Of course you can't generalize, but most dogs are happy and enjoy this water sport very much.

Please note, however, that caution should be exercised in particularly hot temperatures. Because heat can be dangerous not only for you, but also for your dog. A heat stroke directly on the water could be life-threatening. Especially if you are not wearing a life jacket! Your dog's safety should also be the top priority.

Also, please don't skimp on your equipment. Otherwise the fun could quickly be lost. Otherwise it could be that you would like to switch to another higher quality SUP quickly and then you would have spent a lot of money for nothing.

In any case, we wish you a lot of fun on the tour with the SUP with your dog. If you want, you can tell us about your experiences in a comment. Maybe you have a tip or two for our readers? Or questions about this post? We are looking forward to your feedback.

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