Have you watched Deep Creek Lake lovers stand-up paddling (SUP) with their dogs aboard with envy?   Sharing this outdoor adventure with our four-legged friends in the summer of ’16 seems like an achievable goal.   We have dogs and decided to research the training methods used by successful paddlers prior to the beginning of the season to ensure that we were ready to hit the water when the temperature heats up.

Here is what we learned!

1) Get started by bringing your paddleboard in the house so that your pup can explore.

According to the experts, puppies need to become accustomed to your stand-up paddleboard. Allow them the opportunity to sniff around it, walking by and over it so that it appears friendly and welcoming. You may not like tripping over your board during this initial training phase, but this is an important first step for your four-legged friend.

2) Give your pup a reason to visit the top of your board.

After a few days of becoming familiar with your paddle board, place a treat on top of it so that he learns to jump up on the board. Once on top, give your pup another treat to stay and perhaps even to sit. Repeat this exercise frequently in the coming days so that your pet hops up on the board with ease. Be sure to make the board a fun place to visit.

Once your dog becomes comfortable sitting on the board, practice with a lifejacket so that he or she learns to associate the lifejacket with time on the paddle board.

3) Create a specific command for jumping on and off the board.

Two commands are required, one for hopping up on the board and one for jumping off. Remember to withhold the treat if your pup jumps off of the board without giving the command.

Invite your dog onto your board, ask him to sit and stay, then give the command to get off. Extend the length of time between commands so that your dog becomes comfortable with your commands and your board.

4) Join your pup!

If you have made it to this point in the training protocol, it is time to join your dog on the board.   Once you have your dog placed on the board, take a seat behind him then stand. Practice this exercise until your pup stays on the board with you. Slowly introduce your paddle and begin to take some pretend practice pulls.

Remember to keep it positive and fun!

5) Hit the water!

Today’s the day! Grab your best buddy and head to the water. Be sure to go through each of the steps in order and spread the praise when he performs properly. It may take a while until your pup masters stand-up paddling so be patient and enjoy!

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