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Home Dog-Friendly Activities Safely Paddleboarding With Your Dog: Life Jackets to Sun Protection

Safely Paddleboarding With Your Dog: Life Jackets to Sun Protection

by Dan Turner
Dan Turner

I’ve always been a paddleboarding fan; when I realized I could share this adventure with my furry best friend, it was a game-changer. But, ensuring our safety, especially my dog’s, became my top priority.

After all, combining water sports and pets requires a bit of know-how and preparation.

Choose the Right Paddleboard

When I first considered bringing my furry friend along for a paddleboarding adventure, I quickly realized the importance of having the right equipment. Not just any paddleboard would do. Choosing the appropriate one is crucial for our safety, comfort, and enjoyment. Here’s what I’ve learned about selecting the perfect paddleboard for our unique duo.

Size Matters

The first thing to understand is that size truly matters. The ideal paddleboard should comfortably accommodate both you and your dog, ensuring stability and space for movement. Here are a few points to consider:

  • Length: A longer board tends to offer more stability, which is vital when you have a four-legged companion moving around.
  • Width: Look for a board that’s wide enough to provide a stable platform for both you and your pup. Wider boards are less likely to tip over.
  • Volume & Weight Capacity: These specifications determine how well a board can stay afloat under the combined weight of you and your dog. Make sure to pick one that supports your collective weight for optimal performance.

Material Matters Too

Paddleboards come in various materials, each with its advantages and considerations. For outings with dogs, durability and traction are key.

  • Inflatable vs. Solid: Inflatable boards offer convenience and are less likely to cause injury if you or your pup fall. But, solid boards might provide better stability and performance for more experienced paddlers.
  • Deck Pad: A board with a full or large deck pad can provide better grip for your dog’s paws, making it easier for them to stay on and enjoy the ride.

Test Before You Buy

If possible, I highly recommend testing a few paddleboards with your dog before making a purchase. This can give you a tangible sense of stability, comfort, and space, which can be crucial in finding the perfect board for your adventures. Some shops offer demos or rentals, which can be a great way to find the best fit for you and your furry friend.

Choosing the right paddleboard for paddleboarding with your dog isn’t just about fun. It’s a critical step in ensuring both your safety and enjoyment. Taking the time to consider the size, material, and testing out options can make all the difference in your paddleboarding adventures. Remember, it’s not just about the ride; it’s about creating lasting memories with your best friend by your side.

Get Your Dog Comfortable with the Paddleboard

Introducing your furry friend to paddleboarding can be a delightful experience if done right. I’ve found that patience and positive reinforcement are key to making this new adventure a joy for both of us. Here’s how I go about it:

First off, it’s essential to get your dog familiar with the paddleboard on dry land. Before hitting the water, I make sure the board becomes a part of our daily playtime and relaxation. I start by placing the board in our living room or backyard, somewhere they feel safe and at ease. This method helps in easing any anxiety or fear associated with the board.

  • Introduce the paddleboard during playtime: This makes the board seem like a normal part of their environment.
  • Reward calm behavior around the board: Treats and praise work wonders here.

Next up, I gradually encourage my dog to get on the board by themselves. Patience is crucial during this stage. If they hesitate, I never force them. Instead, I use treats and their favorite toys as incentives. Over time, they start associating the board with positive experiences.

  • Use treats and toys as incentives: To encourage them to explore the board.

After they’re comfortable hopping on and off the board on dry land, it’s time to introduce water gradually. I choose calm, shallow waters for our first few attempts. 

  • Start in calm, shallow water: To ease the transition from land to water.
  • Stay close for reassurance: Your presence is comforting.

Throughout this process, safety is my top priority. I ensure my dog wears a life vest designed for pets. Not only does it keep them safe, but it also helps them feel secure. Trust me, knowing they’re safe allows us both to enjoy the paddleboarding experience fully.

  • Ensure your dog wears a pet life vest: For safety and security.

This phase of getting your dog comfortable with the paddleboard might take some time, so it’s all about taking it slow and keeping the atmosphere light and fun. Remember, every dog is different, and what works for one might not work for another. Adjusting your approach based on your dog’s comfort level and personality can make all the difference.

Invest in a Dog Life Jacket

When introducing your furry friend to paddleboarding, safety should always come first. This means not skimming on essential gear, notably a dog life jacket. Even water-loving dogs can face unexpected conditions such as fatigue or rough currents.

Why a Life Jacket is Essential

Most pet owners might think, “My dog’s a great swimmer! Why would they need a life jacket?” Well, even Olympic swimmers wear life jackets when in open waters. Here’s why your pup should too:

  • Safety: The primary reason is safety. Regardless of your dog’s swimming skills, a life jacket provides an extra layer of security.
  • Visibility: Life jackets often come in bright colors, making it easy to spot your dog from a distance.
  • Handle: They’re equipped with a handle on the back, allowing you to quickly lift your dog onto the paddleboard or out of the water if needed.

Choosing the Right Life Jacket

Selecting the perfect life jacket entails much more than just picking the prettiest or the cheapest option. Here’s what to look for:

  • Proper Fit: It should be snug but not too tight. Your dog should be able to move freely.
  • Buoyancy: Enough buoyancy to keep your dog afloat without struggling.
  • Material: Durable and comfortable materials that can withstand the wear and tear of water activities.

Before making a purchase, I strongly advise trying on several models with your dog to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.

Getting Your Dog Acquainted with the Life Jacket

You’ll need to familiarize your pup with it:

  • Introduce the life jacket during a fun play session at home.
  • Let your dog wear it for short periods, gradually increasing the time.
  • Reward them with treats and affection for wearing it, reinforcing a positive association.

Remember, patience and positive reinforcement are key. Most dogs aren’t used to wearing something as bulky as a life jacket. Give them time to adjust and always associate the life jacket with fun activities, like walks or playtime, before hitting the water.

Start Slow and Stay Close

When I first decided to take my furry friend paddleboarding, I knew we had to start slow. Dogs, like humans, need time to adjust to new activities. So, here’s what I did to make sure both my pup and I had a blast, safely.

I began by introducing my dog to the paddleboard on dry land. This seemed less intimidating. We spent a few days just letting the board be part of our environment. I’d place it in our living room, allowing my dog to sniff around and even rest on it if he chose. This casual introduction helped him see the board as just another fun item, not something to be feared.

After our living room became too small for our adventure, we moved to shallow waters. Here are the steps we took:

  • Stay in shallow water where your dog can easily stand. This ensures they feel safe during the initial attempts.
  • Keep sessions short. Just a few minutes at first, gradually increasing as your dog becomes more comfortable.
  • Offer plenty of praise and treats. Reinforcing their bravery and curiosity makes a huge difference.

The key during these first few tries is to remain as close to your dog as possible. I made sure I was always within touching distance, ready to assist or provide comfort. This closeness reassures them that they’re safe and that you’re embarking on this new adventure together.

Trust from your dog that you won’t put them in harm’s way, and trust in yourself to lead the adventure confidently. Every dog reacts differently to water and paddleboards. That’s why staying close and tuning in to their comfort level is vital. Patience is your best friend during this process. Some dogs take to it immediately, while others need a bit more time and encouragement.

As we progressed from shallow to slightly deeper waters, staying close remained my top priority. I’d often find myself chatting with my dog, offering words of encouragement, or just enjoying the sound of the gentle water beneath us. This journey brought us closer, not just physically but emotionally.

Bring Along Essentials for Your Dog

Whenever I’m getting ready for a paddleboarding adventure with my furry friend, I make a checklist of essentials to ensure we’re both prepared for a fun and safe outing. Over time, I’ve realized that less is more, and focusing on a streamlined list of must-haves makes our experiences smoother and more enjoyable. Let me jump into what’s made it to the top of my essentials list.

First off, safety is paramount. Even if my dog is a strong swimmer, I never overlook the importance of a well-fitted life jacket. It’s not just about keeping him afloat; it’s also about making sure he’s visible in the water with bright colors and has a handle on the back for easy retrieval.

Here are the non-negotiables:

  • A doggy life jacket: Safety first, always.
  • Water and a collapsible bowl: Staying hydrated is crucial.
  • High-value treats: Perfect for positive reinforcement.
  • A first-aid kit: For unexpected minor injuries.
  • Sun protection: Yes, dogs can get sunburned too, especially those with short fur or pink skin.

Besides the safety gear, hydration is key. I always pack plenty of fresh water and a collapsible bowl. It’s easy to forget that our pups can get dehydrated quickly, especially when they’re excited and active. A few laps of water can make a huge difference in keeping them comfortable and preventing overheating.

Treating my dog for good behavior and following commands is part of the fun. I bring along his favorite treats, which serve as a fantastic way to reinforce positive behavior. Whether it’s staying calmly on the board or getting back on after a swim, a tasty treat is a great motivator.

I never begin on any outdoor activity without a basic first-aid kit. While I hope to never use it, being prepared for minor cuts or scrapes gives me peace of mind. This kit includes items like antiseptic wipes, gauze, and bandages, tailored for both human and canine needs.

Finally, sun protection isn’t just for humans. Dogs, especially those with short or light-colored fur, can be vulnerable to sunburn. A sunshade on the paddleboard, sunscreen formulated for pets, or even a lightweight doggy UV jacket can provide necessary protection from the harsh rays.


Taking your furry friend on a paddleboarding adventure can be an exhilarating experience for both of you. Remembering to pack the essentials like a life jacket water treats and sun protection will ensure that your outing is not just fun but also safe. It’s all about creating memorable moments while keeping your dog’s well-being at the forefront. So next time you hit the water don’t forget these tips to make your paddleboarding experience a breeze. Here’s to many more adventures with your four-legged companion by your side!


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