SUP with Your Pup – Stand Up Paddle

In Dog Behavior, dog training, Dogs, Pet Industry, Puppies, Reader Stories, Summer pet safety, Things to do with your pets, Travel with pets, Uncategorized by Cara Armour4 Comments

There are tons of summer fun activities we can do with our pups but if you’re going to hit the water, I highly recommend trying to stand up paddle with your pooch.

Build up to SUP

While many might take to the board like pro’s, you will have to put some time, effort and patience into getting your pup not only used to the board, but used to being on the board on water. Use treats and positive reinforcement to make certain they are comfortable.

SUP with pup

My friend Diane training her mini Aussie Emma to get comfortable on the board


Lexi says you are never too old to SUP, she’s 11 and ready to go!


Baby Maui from @mauithegoldenretriever learning how to SUP – you’re never too young

Unlike the restrictions and lack of flat surfaces on a kayak or canoe, SUP boards allow your dog to balance while taking in the scenery – of course while you do all the work of paddling. Below is my friend Sabrina’s Aussie Moon, soaking in the scenery.

Total Body Workout

SUP offers a total body workout for both parties. Core muscles are needed for balance as well as leg muscles and stabilizers. While you don’t necessarily feel the aerobic workout unless you paddle hard – I can assure you you’re not just getting a tan.

SUP with your pup

Lisa and her Boxer pup Blizzard – his first time on the board

There is of course going for the swim as well – SUP and swimming, especially for older dogs (and humans) can be great on the joints.

Great for the Mind and Soul

And besides the physical health benefits, SUP is great for building a better bond between you and your buddy. A greater level of trust is required that will allow your dog to trust that you wont dunk him (on purpose) and you need to trust that he wont jump off or dunk you.

While you’re out balancing and paddling away, you’re also paying pretty close attention to what your pup is doing and how they are liking it – what balanced dog doesn’t love a little more devoted attention? This is great mentally for you and them. Also, the tranquility of water, even if you are riding some waves is proven to be therapeutic.

SUP Golden Retriever

@mauithegoldenretriever now – pretty comfortable on the board

Safety First

So whether your town has a local pond or you’re headed to a vacation destination with your dog and some water, look into SUP with your pup. Its a fun, relaxing yet stimulating activity that you both can enjoy, even if your dog doesn’t like water. You just have to be extra careful with having them get on and off – my little girl doesn’t like to get her pretty feet wet.

Some tips from an experienced SUPer – thanks to Sabrina at @mauithegoldenretriever:

  • Inflatable sups (isups) are excellent choices for dogs, nails don’t scratch them
  • Make sure the board has a nice long deck pad for them to grip
  • The bigger and thicker the board, the better stability you’ll have
  • Never tie your dog to the board

And remember, knowing how to save your pet should they fall in is a great preventive measure to take before you take to the water with your pal. Life vests are always a must as well. They provide handles for easier on and off the board (or out of the water) action.

Do you have a story to share with us about your SUP with your pup experience? Share it with us.

Happy Summer!



  1. The most important consideration is the dog’s safety, so life jackets are a must. Keep in mind, however, that some breeds of dog should not take up water sports because they don’t have the ability to swim well, if at all, and may tip over while wearing a flotation device. These include Dachshunds, Pugs, Bulldogs and Basset Hounds.

    1. Author

      Awesome advice, thank you so much! Absolutely, their safety is paramount but their physical and mental. If they do not take to the board, do not push them.

  2. Great article, Cara! As Lori correctly pointed out, a doggie PFD is an extremely important accessory to bring along and one that many overlook as they don’t feel it’s necessary. Even if your pup is an excellent swimmer, there are cases where a dog life jacket could potentially save their life.

    I did a write-up on this topic and also made some recommendations on the best dog life jackets currently available — maybe it will be a helpful resource for some of your visitors who read this article:

    Thanks so much for sharing the message of SUP pup safety, Cara! Keep up the great work, and happy paddling. 🙂

  3. I rescued my shih tzu when he was only one. We kayaked before he was two, but I noticed the boat became too hot and afforded no cooling. I purchased an SUP 3 years ago. He immediately liked the full open deck. This is a solid 12 foot touring board with lots neoprene. I strap a dry bag in the front and Miles spends most of his time crawling on top and moving to the point of the board. He loves the wind in his hair and being close to the water. We go on lakes, reservoirs, rivers and ocean.

    On a side note, he is now 6 and became crippled overnight for almost 3 months – supposedly from fused vertebrae. Vet said he would never walk again. Water therapy and core strengthening from regular SUP led to a complete recovery! He runs, climbs and jumps fine!

    Two contrary points for smaller dogs. SUPs don’t have to be inflatable for your dog to be comfortable and no scratches from his nails if it is a good finish on the board. Second, Miles has only fallen in 3x in 3 years, usually out of fatique or clamoring to be on the tip of the board in a big wake. While the author suggests not tying your dog to the board, I disagree. The dog’s PFD should have a leash to your board the same as you should. Small dogs don’t handle the cold, the current or recovering on the slippery board well. Rather than the current take him quickly, I can always grab the leash and pull him aboard safely.

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