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Balancing Act: Tips for Introducing Your Dog to the World of Paddle boarding

Going out on the water can be an amazing experience for you and your pup! But some small prep ahead of time can make the experience much more enjoyable for you both.

The trick is to make it a fun and rewarding experience. This starts on land with lots of short, easy repetitions using toys, treats, play, or a combination of all the above!

Growing up in a city with a river I have always looked for ways to get out on the water with my best friends. Thankfully, my pups have adventurous personalities and love trying new things with me. Even though they love the water, we still started slow to make it fun and easy on the land first! Because we did this, we were able to make it fun for Nova and Winnie to get out on the water in a short amount of time.

The steps below will give you an easy guide to follow so you can be out on the water in no time!

1. Keep your boat/paddle board inside the house or out in the yard for a week or two.

The point of this is to get your dog completely comfortable around the boat in a low stress environment. At first let your dog explore it on their terms so they can get comfortable first.

2. Place treats on the board/boat.

If your dog knows a "place" command this is the pawfect place to practice while it's fully stabilized. Keep these reps short and fun and go at your dogs pace. Nova and Winnie made it easy and understood the assignment right away so we were able to go fairly quickly.

3. Make sure you have a "release" command to let your pup know when they can get off the boat

This is practiced with your "place" command and lets the dog know they can get off the boat safely without tipping over. Have your dog hold their "place" on the paddle board until you use the word "break" (or whatever word you choose!). Start with a short amount of time and work your way up to longer periods!

4. Practice sitting while in the water with you in or out of the boat

Go at your dogs speed but start to practice these drills on the water with you supporting the boat or sitting/kneeling/standing up on it. As your dog's confidence grows, start to paddle back and forth creating the rocking effect close to shore.

5. Enjoy your adventures

Once your dog feels confident in the boat with you in as well and can stay comfortably, get ready to enjoy your adventures out on the water with your best friends! Depending on your dog's nature you may need to keep them shorter at first but gradually can get ready for any adventure!

Nova and Winnie know the routine so as soon as they see the boat/board they will run to it and sit on it waiting to go out on the water!

Safety Recommendations:

  • Expect to get wet and expect mistakes to happen so be patient and prepared to take it slow!

  • Always wear a lifejacket for you and your pup

  • Never keep your dog tied to a leash in case of flipping

  • Don't force a dog to go who doesn't love the water

Questions? Comments? Need some extra help getting started on making fun outdoor memories with your dog? Email me anytime at I'd love to hear from you. Or better yet- come in for a free training consult and let's chat about how more training can help you maximize the outdoor fun you get to have with your best friend!

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