Bringing along a companion to enjoy a day on the water is always a good idea. Having your dog join you can be one of the most rewarding experiences a paddleboarder can have. But what about inflatable paddleboards? Is it okay to put a dog on them? I have lots of experience in this arena and can give you a definitive answer.
Dogs can be put on an inflatable paddleboard. Inflatable boards are incredibly durable, so you don’t really have to worry about their nails puncturing the surface. However, keep in mind that you have to train the dog properly until they are comfortable enough to come along.
Now, let’s go into greater detail on bringing a dog along so that you can be fully prepared to ensure your and your dog’s success.
Do I Need to Do Anything Special to Prepare My Dog?
Paddleboarding with your dog is an enjoyable and unique experience. However, you cannot just bring your dog along to ride on the paddleboard out of the blue without adequate preparation. For one, your dog might get stressed out from the unfamiliar situation that you are subjecting them to. At worst, it might even lead to an accident that would result in the injury of your fur baby or yourself.
Therefore, before engaging in any activity that is still unfamiliar to your dog, you have to make sure that they get comfortable with the idea beforehand. The good news is that you don’t even have to go near water to do this. The best and most practical way to warm them up to the idea is to train them at home.
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Basic Paddleboard Dog Training
There are many available methods on how to train your dog to paddleboard. Even so, I would stick to the most straightforward one: positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement is basically just rewarding your dog. Most of the time, this comes in the form of their favorite treats. However, giving them consistent praise is equally important.
Your goal should be to instill an idea in your dog’s mind that getting on the paddleboard will result in them getting a reward. Just keep in mind that you have to be very patient with your dog throughout the whole training, as results can vary from one dog to another. Once your dog is comfortable enough to routinely get on and off the paddleboard at home, you can try bringing them with you on your next paddleboarding adventure.
I recommend leaving the board somewhere in the house, such as in the garage. Once your dog starts to get on it without direction, you know they are probably comfortable enough to try taking them with you paddleboarding. However, you may also want to want to simulate conditions that you may encounter on the water.
To do this, try to rock it gently and see how your dog reacts. If their legs wobble or they show signs of distress, continue their training, and when both of you are confident enough, it’s time to hit the waters.
It’s a given that you and your dog will fall off a few times before getting the hang of it, and that’s why it’s better to prepare them as much as possible on dry land before their first live run.
Just don’t get frustrated if it takes a bit longer than you had hoped. Keep rewarding and reassuring your dog, and you will get there. Start slow and be patient with your dog. Give them their favorite treat and praise every time they stay on the paddleboard. Keep doing this over a few weeks until he or she has a positive attitude toward being on the board.
Things to Look Out for on a Dog’s Maiden Voyage
Some dogs, especially puppies, are very playful and active, which might throw you off your paddleboard when they suddenly jump around or start chasing a duck when they see one. So, make sure you are ready to suddenly be in the drink at any given time.
Pro Tip: If you have a hyperactive dog, you can play a game of fetch or any activities that could tire them out before the main event so that they will stay still and just relax on the paddleboard once you start paddling.
Do I Need to Clip My Dog’s Toenails?
Paddleboards are not all made the same. Some have a firmer grip, while others can be slippery. That is why it is vital to keep track of the length of your dog’s claws as well as the fur growing near their pads. These impediments could potentially cause them to slip off.
I recommend buying a pad to put under them to mitigate this issue. This will help eliminate the friction between your dog’s pads and the paddle board. However, make sure you get one that can be semi-permanently or permanently affixed to the board. Otherwise, it will likely end up getting lost if your board ever flips. Here is a good one that I recommend, found on Amazon.
Although a dog’s claws are not likely to damage your paddleboard, it’s still worthwhile to keep them clipped. A regular trimming will definitely benefit both you and your dog in the long run. If nothing else, it’ll stop your shoes (or feet) from getting scratched should they slide or splay their paws out when a wave comes along.
Are There Any Safety Precautions?
It would be best if you always prioritized both you and your dog’s safety over anything else. That’s why both of you need to have a life jacket. Even if you do not wear it all the time, make sure that your dog does.
Dogs are playful by nature, and they might suddenly jump into the water out of nowhere. Although they are excellent swimmers, they might play too much and get exhausted before realizing that they no longer have the energy to swim back to you.
The best thing, however, is that life jackets for dogs also have a handle so that you can immediately pull them if they fall in the water, and they are available in bright colors to help you locate your dog quickly if they ever get too far. Here is a great one that I recommend. It comes in every possible size and has numerous color choices.
No Lease Please
If you can, avoid putting leashing your dog while paddleboarding since it might strangle them if they fall off the board. This is why you must train your dog beforehand so that they will behave, giving you no reason to bring a leash with you. If you train your dog well enough, you can even reach a point where you can make them jump off and then get back onto the board on command.
As previously mentioned, some paddle boards can get very slippery, especially when wet. So, definitely invest in a pad. You won’t regret it.
Now that you know there are no issues with using an inflatable paddle board with your dog, what are you waiting for? Get started training them now so that they will be ready to go with you ASAP. And, make sure you are safe out there and get both you and your dog a good life preserver.
Go have fun, and thanks for reading!
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