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Paddling with Pups: Keep Your Dog Safe on the Water

Stand-up paddle boarding with you dog has become a popular activity for pet owners. When paddling with pups, follow these essential safety precautions while on the water.

Paddle boarding can be tons of fun for you and your dog. Unlike this fella, be sure you and your dog both wear a life jacket.

It looks so cool...and so deceptively easy to take your dog with you while stand-up paddle boarding. The interest in paddle boarding as a non-motorized water activity that just about anyone can learn to do has risen steadily since 2020. However, paddle boarding is a unique skill; one that both the owner and the dog need to know how to prepare for before heading onto the water.

Tips for Safe, Fun Paddle Boarding with Your Dog

Before you venture out by boat or board, keep the following in mind about your dog's water comfort level.

  1. Know Your Dogs Water Comfort Level. Before you venture out to a pond, lake, river, or open water make sure you know your dog's comfort level around and in water. The first time you introduce your dog to water should not be the day you decide to try any water sport for the first time. Consult with your vet or an animal behaviorist about how to introduce your dog to these larger bodies of water.

  2. Not All Dogs are Good Swimmers. Though most all dogs can and do paddle when in water, not all dog breeds have the strength or stamina to swim for very long. Some dogs don't stay afloat, particularly the stockier, top-heavy breeds like bulldogs and boxers. You need to have the right expectations for your dog as a beginner swimmer. You might even want to take her to a swim lesson before bringing her out in boat or on a board.

  3. Have Realistic Expectations. Be Prepared for Surprises. Even if you've had your dog around water and have seen their swimming ability, your dog can surprise you at any moment. They may sense something that you can't, with your limited human sight, hearing, and vision. If your dog is hesitant or spooked in anyway, don't take him out and if already on the water, bring him in for a break.

  4. Paddle within Your Abilities. Even if you are a skilled paddle boarder, don't take your precious pup out on a windy day, where even the calmest lake can become choppy. Always paddle in areas familiar to you, within your abilities--and within your dog's ability level, too.

  5. Life Jackets are a Must for People and Dogs. Both you and your dog near to wear a life jacket. If your dog gets into a panic situation, he can crawl all over you in the water. You need to stay afloat and that's just what a life jacket is designed to do. Likewise, if your dog does panic for some reason, her life jacket can prevent a fatal drowning while you focus on getting help for the both of you.

On the Water with Your Dog: What to Bring With You

When adventuring on the water with you dog, be sure to bring along the following items:

  • plenty of fresh water, kept chilled in a cooler (for both of you)

  • dog treats, people snacks

  • towels to clean-up and to keep dry and warm

  • people first aid kit

  • emergency contact information for family, friend

Remember to always let someone know where you and your dog are headed, how long you might be out, and when you expect to get back.

All of these tips, along with these resources, can help make for fund day on the water with your canine companion!

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