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Inflatable paddle boarding is a relaxing activity done in calm water where maintaining your balance is effortless. What could be better enjoying this peaceful experience than with man’s best friend? But is it okay for your dog to join you on your inflatable paddle board?
Inflatable paddle boards are safe for dogs as long as the dog has received proper training, is comfortable out on the water, and always wears a dog personal flotation device (PFD). Inflatable paddle boards are made from a softer material, making it easier for dogs’ paws to avoid slippage.
In this article, I will explain why inflatable paddle boards are safe for dogs. I will also explain how to choose the most ideal board for canine companions and offer tips for beginners on how to paddle board with a dog on board.
Why Inflatable Paddle Boards Are Safe for Dogs
Inflatable paddle boards are actually the perfect paddle board to take a dog out on. This is due to their durability and stability.
I realize it sounds counterintuitive– the term “inflatable” may send you running in the opposite direction when deciding what board would hold up best under your dog’s nails.
On the contrary, inflatable paddle boards are not only puncture-resistant, but they are also easier for a dog to grip with their paws than a hard paddle board is, and the size of the board offers more stability out on the water.
However, the dog’s safety on an inflatable paddle board greatly depends on two things.
- Are you an experienced paddleboarder?
- Has your dog been adequately trained to paddle board?
If both answers are yes, you and your canine companion are ready to hit the water. If you’ve answered no to either question above, you have some work to do first. Properly training your dog beforehand is key to a safe and fun experience.
Choosing a Paddle Board for Your Dog
If you are a first-timer, renting or borrowing a board to start out makes the most sense. This way, you can get a feel for it and see if it’s the best activity for you and your dog to do together. If it’s something you find you and your dog have a love for, then on to the hunt for the perfect board.
There are a variety of inflatable paddle boards out on the market, so how can you narrow it down when making the call on which one fits your pup’s needs best? There are a few questions to consider before heading down to your local paddle-boarding store and picking up your new equipment. Asking yourself these questions will help guide you through the buying process.
- What material is it made from? You want a board made from a material that prevents you and your pup from slipping around too much. Choosing one made from material such as epoxy keeps you keep your balance and keeps you from taking any unexpected swims in the water.
- How much stability does it offer? How much stability an inflatable paddle board offers has everything to do with the length and width of the board. The longer and wider the board is, the more comfort and stability you and your dog will experience on the water.
- How large is my dog? The size of your pup plays a significant role in determining what size board to choose. Make sure to weigh your dog and check your own weight too. Add the two weights together and then add an additional 40 lbs (18 kilograms) to that number. You should find a board that supports the resulting weight.
How Do You Paddle Board With a Dog?
The first thing you should always do is know how to navigate an inflatable paddle board yourself before bringing your pup on board. Once you are comfortable on the paddle board, then comes the positive reinforcement training for your four-legged friend.
It’s a good idea to work with your dog on land before venturing out on the water. As your dog becomes comfortable sitting on the board and is listening to your commands, you can take the training into shallow water.
Allow Your Dog to Explore the Board
The best way to get your pup used to the board is to allow him to go at his own pace. Let him approach the board on his own. Each time he comes in contact with the paddle board by pawing, stepping, or standing on it, reward him with a treat. Have him walk over the board several times so that he becomes used to how it feels.
Give Extra Treats for Obeying Commands
Start giving your dog simple commands he already knows and rewarding him. Once he starts sitting on the board, give him three treats at a time. This way, you are showing your dog he is doing exactly what he is supposed to do. Continue in this manner until it feels like he has it down and understands.
Stand on the Board With Your Dog
Once he seems to understand that he should sit on the board and it’s becoming more natural, begin standing on the board with him and find a position for yourself and your dog that will work for you when paddling out on the water.
Any time your dog sits where you want him to sit, give him several treats at once. Continue this training until it becomes natural, then begin introducing these lessons while the paddle board is on the water.
Training doesn’t have to be finished in a day. Paddleboard dog training can be extended over several sessions until he is fully comfortable and familiar with what to do on the board.
Paddleboarding with your pup is a great way to pass the time while strengthening your bond. An inflatable paddle board gives your dog the comfort and stability he needs to relax on the board and enjoy the experience.
Remember to always have a life vest on your dog when out on your water adventures. Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, it’s easy for him to become overwhelmed and get tired in the possibility of an emergency. A PFD with a handle on the back makes it easy to reach in and pull your dog out of the water if he goes for an unexpected dip.