Make sure you are safe when out paddleboarding with your dog

When it's hot outside it may be a good time to enjoy the water with your dog. While some canines can't get enough of swimming in a pool or running through a sprinkler, others won't go near anything that looks like it might be bath time.

And while backyard activities are fun, some owners like to take their dogs out on a bigger body of water. Stand-up paddleboarding has become a popular way to spend time on the water with your dog. offers suggestions related to paddleboarding with your dog, including safety tips, training and the proper equipment needed for this water sport.

David De Haan of stresses the importance of keeping everyone safe, including your dog, while participating in this activity.

"There are some ways in which you can ensure your dog is safe and that having them on the stand-up paddleboard doesn't risk anyone else's safety," he said.

First, like all humans out on the water, dogs should wear a PFD, or personal flotation device. PFDs for dogs are made like a vest and should properly fit according to their body size and weight. The vest should fit snugly, so your dog doesn't slide out of it when he needs it most.

Also, your dog should be comfortable wearing the vest before you even get on the paddleboard. If the PFD doesn't fit properly, it can slide up and rub his underarms, the underside of his neck or his belly while he is swimming or floating in the water.

If he is uncomfortable wearing the PFD, he will associate that feeling with the paddleboard and want to avoid it. So properly fitting your dog's PFD is extremely important.

Some people use a tether or leash to attach their dog to the paddleboard to keep them from jumping into the water or wandering off. If the dog is tethered to the board, he may topple it if he jumps into the water. Then he can get caught in the leash, making it difficult for him to swim, causing disorientation and injury. It's much better to train your dog to follow commands to "stay on the board, jump off and get back on," De Haan said.

Dogs, like people, need to wear sunscreen lotion when they are out on the water. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation as to which sunscreen is good for your pet. Use a pet-approved sunscreen lotion if your dog has sensitive skin, short hair or light hair.

Even if your dog doesn't have these issues, you should apply sunscreen to his muzzle and ears. Also, since most dogs have less hair on their bellies, the sun can reflect off the water and burn them, so putting sunscreen there will also protect them.

Lastly, "Your dog should be comfortable in and around water before any training on a SUP board (stand-up paddleboard) takes place, and especially before your dog and the board are brought to the water," De Haan said.

"If your dog is afraid of the water and you try to train him to get on the paddle board too soon, he may never go near the water or the board again."

On the website, De Haan describes nine steps you should take to get your dog comfortable with the paddleboard and the movements associated with the activity.

From exposing your paddleboard and paddle in an open area of your home so your dog can sniff it to you introducing your dog to the water with you paddling from a sitting position, De Haan gives detailed instructions to teach you and your dog the sport of paddleboarding.

If your dog shows any signs of distress, "call it a day and come back another time for a bit more experience a little at a time," De Haan said.

Most importantly, take the training slow and watch your dog's behavior and body language to make sure they are comfortable at all times.

When paddleboarding with your dog, you need to have the proper equipment. Many people who enjoy this water activity suggest using an inflatable stand-up paddleboard because they are easier for the dogs to stand on rather than the hard plastic boards.

When purchasing a stand-up paddleboard board for you and your dog, make sure the weight limits are high enough for both of you. There are even several inflatable boards that are made to accommodate you and your dog. These boards have thicker PVC material and have added traction grips in the front for your dog.

Most importantly, whether you are introducing your dog to paddleboarding or you and he are seasoned pros, make the entire experience a positive one.

"If something does happen, such as you and your dog spilling into the water for some reason or another, be sure to follow up with something positive like a treat or snuggles as you both get dried off to either go again or head home for the day," De Haan said.

Paddleboarding can be a fun watersport for you and your dog. But whether it's playing in the sprinkler in the backyard, swimming in the pool or paddleboarding on the lake, you and your dog can have fun in the water together. Enjoy the water and the bond you share.

• The Buddy Foundation, 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights, is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization with all funds directly assisting its animals. Call (847) 290-5806 or visit

Scout is a very strong dog and would require someone who can match his strength on a walk. He loves to be a couch potato and just hang out. He came to Buddy very overweight, but has trimmed down with walks and veggie snacks. He does like some dogs, but would do best as an only dog. He has an alpha personality, so Buddy suggests no children. Courtesy of The Buddy Foundation
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