Solo paddle boarding can get lonely even for the most content paddle boarders, sometimes taking a passenger along can help to make the experience even more enjoyable!
Aside from a child, you may wish to bring your four legged friends along! This guide is written specifically about dogs but it should work for other pets you have that you think would enjoy being on your inflatable paddle board.
This initial step is very important as it is all about getting your dog used to being around the inflatable paddle board. Let your dog explore the paddle board in his/her own time, they may be wary at first and it is essential that you do not force them onto it before they have had time to adjust. You can start with your inflatable paddle board resting up against a wall and then bring it flat to the group if you have the space, it is likely they will do a lot of sniffing.
Once you feel that your dog is comfortable around the presence of the paddle board you can place a treat on the board. This will encourage your dog to stand on it and get used to the feel of the board on their paws. After a couple times, when your dog gets on the paddle board to reach a treat, try getting them to sit and stay on the board making sure to reward them with treats. These rewards will help your dog to form positive associations with your inflatable paddle board.
It is a good idea to have a life jacket for your dog when paddle boarding even if they are confident in water and have never had issues before. Dog life jackets usually come with a handle on top, this means if your dog jumps or falls off the paddle board then you will be able to help them get back on the inflatable paddle board safely. Continue encouraging your dog to sit and stay on the paddle board in your home, rewarding each time. Each training session make sure you put their life jacket on, this will help them to associate the life jacket as part of the reward system.
Once your dog is comfortable with the previous exercises, start standing on the paddle board with them. Get your dog on the paddle board first and then stand behind them, rewarding your dog for staying in the same place once you get on. Once they are comfortable sharing the space with you, start pretending to paddle with your SUP paddle, this will get them used to the movement around them whilst on the board.
Once your dog has got used to standing on the paddle with you whilst the paddle moves around, it’s time to take them to the water! Place your paddle board on the floor near the water you will be paddle boarding in and repeat the previous exercises getting them used to being in the water environment.
Once your dog is comfortable on the board in the new environment, it’s time to go for it. Get your inflatable paddle board in very shallow water and encourage your dog onto it. Remember to have a pocket for treats to keep the positive reinforcement going, once they are safely on the paddle board it’s time for you to get on and start paddling. There are probably going to be a few wet falls along the way but if you stay consistent and keep rewarding them they should get the hang of paddle boarding.
Paddle boarding with your pooch can be an enjoyable experience for both but it is important to take the training slowly and stop if your dog becomes stressed or anxious.