Paddling with your dogs can be a delightful and rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. Whether you’re on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or a kayak, taking your dog along can enhance the adventure. Here are some tips for paddling with your dogs:

1. Start with Training:

Before hitting the water, ensure that your dog is comfortable being around and on the water. Introduce them to the kayak or paddleboard on dry land first, allowing them to explore and get used to the new environment.

2. Choose the Right Watercraft:

Opt for a stable and spacious watercraft. Kayaks with a sit-on-top design or wide SUPs are generally more suitable for paddling with dogs as they provide a stable platform.

3. Life Jacket for Your Dog:

Safety is paramount. Invest in a properly fitting dog life jacket that provides buoyancy and visibility. Make sure your dog wears it throughout the paddling adventure.

4. Practice Near Shore:

Start paddling in calm, shallow waters near the shore. Allow your dog to gradually get accustomed to being on the watercraft and maintain a calm demeanor.

5. Commands and Communication:

Teach your dog basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “lie down.” Having good control over your dog’s behavior will make the paddling experience safer and more enjoyable.

6. Secure Footing:

On a paddleboard, consider adding a non-slip mat or traction pad to provide secure footing for your dog. This helps them feel more stable and confident.

7. Introduce Paddling Gradually:

Don’t rush the process. Gradually introduce your dog to paddling by taking short trips and gradually extending the duration as they become more comfortable.

8. Comfort Items:

Bring familiar items like your dog’s favorite toy or blanket. Having familiar scents can help your dog feel more at ease on the watercraft.

9. Sun Protection:

Dogs can get sunburned, especially if they have light-colored fur. Consider using pet-friendly sunscreen on exposed areas and provide shade when possible.

10. Hydration:

Bring fresh water for both you and your dog. Keep in mind that being on the water can be dehydrating for your furry companion.

11. Rest Breaks:

Allow your dog to take breaks. Paddling can be a new and tiring experience, so find a quiet spot to take a break onshore.

12. Plan for Entry and Exit:

Plan how your dog will get on and off the watercraft. Practice the entry and exit process on land to avoid any surprises in the water.

13. Be Mindful of Wildlife:

Keep an eye on wildlife in the area, especially if you’re in a location with potential encounters with other animals. Ensure your dog doesn’t disturb or chase wildlife.

14. Stay Calm:

Dogs are highly attuned to their owners’ emotions. If you stay calm and relaxed, your dog is more likely to feel at ease on the water.

15. Clean-Up Supplies:

Bring waste bags and be prepared to clean up after your dog. Follow Leave No Trace principles and ensure you’re respectful of the environment.

16. Know Your Dog’s Limits:

Pay attention to your dog’s behavior and body language. If your dog seems stressed or tired, it’s time to head back to shore.

17. Consider a Doggie Paddle Partner:

If you have multiple dogs, consider bringing a paddle partner for your dog. Having another familiar canine companion can make the experience more enjoyable for them.

18. Check Local Regulations:

Be aware of any local regulations or restrictions regarding dogs on the water. Some areas may have specific rules for pets on watercraft.

19. Emergency Preparedness:

Be prepared for emergencies. Know how to perform a doggie paddle rescue if your dog falls into the water, and have a plan for getting them back on board safely.

20. Enjoy the Experience:

Most importantly, enjoy the experience with your furry friend. Paddling with your dog can create wonderful bonding moments and add an extra layer of joy to your outdoor adventures.

Remember that every dog is unique, and their comfort level on the water may vary. Take the time to understand your dog’s preferences and gradually introduce them to the paddling experience. With patience, training, and the right precautions, paddling with your dog can become a favorite shared activity.

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