SUP with your pup: Tips for stand-up paddleboarding with your dog

Stand-up paddleboarding with your pup is a pawesome outdoor activity combining our sport and quality time spent with your four-legged companion(s). It’s a great way to share an adventure on the water, strengthen your bond with your dog and keep the two of you active. With some proper preparation to keep you both safe and comfortable, you can create wonderful SUP memories together. 

Photo credit: Main image @bapt_gros & @carine_clair

Here are some user-friendly tips for stand-up paddlebaording with your pup(s), put together with a French watersport brand, Wattsup.

Photo : @carine_clair / Wattsup Marlin 12′

How to SUP with your pup: Choosing a suitable paddleboard

Let’s start with the basics! To paddle comfortably and safely with your pup, you will need a stand-up paddleboard that is suitable for your skills and the size of your dog. If you are just starting your SUP adventure, check out our article “Complete guide to choosing your inflatable paddleboard”, where you’ll find handy tips about SUP boards but remember to add the weight of your dog (s) too when choosing the right board that can support your total weight together! 

Photo : @carine_clair / Wattsup Marlin 12′

You may want to consider touring board that is wide and stable enough to allow your dog to both ride it and move easily. Once your dog gets used to it, you can try to have have fun on a rigid paddleboard too! Inflatable boards are perfectly suited for SUP practice with your dog(s) – they are easy to transport, store and repair. 

There’s also no risk of scratching the paint or the carbon on your board. In worst case scenario, your dog can accidentally scratch the foam pad or PVC skin of your inflatable board but it’s nothing too serious or irreparable. With a flat deck and plenty of space to move around comfortably, majority of inflatable boards usually have a pad that covers most of the deck. 

Be careful with single-skin inflatable SUPs though and remember to put on a thick towel to avoid small claw accidents that may affect your board. 

Photo : @charlinexplore / Wattsup Marlin 12′

At Wattsup, a popular board chosen for paddling with dog(s) is the Whale 14’6”. It’s an inflatable stand-up paddleboard that can support the maximum weight of up to 210kg, which allows paddleboarding as a tandem (two adults) but also taking one and more dogs! The 4mm foam pad covers the entire board deck, from the nose to the tail and your four-legged friend can sit and comfortably move around without the risk of damaging the PVC. 

Photo : @ehaweesdream_siberianhusky / Wattsup Espadon 11′

Paddlers have also widely adopted the Marlin 12′ model from Wattsup. It’s a wide and a robust board which can support 150kg of load, while being more maneuverable than the Whale due to a more compact, all-round shape. The Espadon 11′ and Pike 11’6  models are also among the most popular in the Wattsup quiver for the SUP-with-pups enthusiasts. 

Photo : @bapt_gros / Wattsup Moon 10’6

Life jackets are not just for humans!

There has been a lot of debate about life jackets in the media recently and they are equally important for pets as they are for humans, ensuring their safety in the event of falling into the water. Fatigue, temperature differences, currents, distance from the board… These are the factors that may put your favourite animal into difficulty. It is therefore wise to be careful and equip your per with a vest, even if they can swim. A life jacket allows your dog(s) to get into a good swimming position and a useful handle helps to get them back on a board quickly! Don’t forget your leash either!

Photo : @sagawlau / Wattsup Marlin 12′

Choosing a suitable environment

Start with calm, shallow waters such as a lake or a river with no currets to help your dog get used to this new outdoor activity gradually. Avoid areas with a lot of boat traffic or waves which may scare your dog. Also, check the local rules and regulations as some places may not allow dogs or have a restricted access during Summer holidays.

Photo : @rourouthedogtrotter / Wattsup Marlin 12′

Don’t rush things!

Help your dog get familiar with a stand-up paddleboard and ensure a steady progress. There are now SUP courses and training sessions for dogs available often delivered by dog professionals in collaboration with SUP instructors. That’s a great way to “test the waters” in a safe environment!

Photo : @sissi.l.imperasky / Wattsup Espadon 11′

For those wishing to train independently, familiarize your dog with a stand-up paddleboard before venturing out. Let them sniff around and move on your board and encourage them with treats.

Do short training sessions on land (in your house or garden for example) before moving onto the water to help your dog get used to it. Demonstrate the paddle movement with your dog on the board so they are comfortable with it. It’s important for your dog’s safety if it can follow three basic commands: Sit, lie down and stay still.

Photo : @kiyiya_freespirit / Wattsup Marlin 12′

Let’s get on the water! Run quick on-water sessions to allow your dog to gradually get used to the activity. Get the dog on the board while its not moving, gently push it forward, stop and repeat the activity. The aim is to get them used to the movement of the board and keeping balance while on it. 

Then join your dog on the board, you can first be seated or just kneel to find your balance together and when you’re both ready, stand up and start paddling! Initially your dog may want to jump off which may lead to you falling off the board as well all but these things happen – it’s all part of learning and… fun! Think about your own footwork and where you’re standing on the board while paddling with your dog. 

Photo : @carine_clair / Wattsup Marlin 12′

It’s certainly easier to teach your dog(s) when they’re young but if they love water things will come naturally. They may even invite themselves to other paddlers’ boards! 

Photo : @charlinexplore / Wattsup Marlin 12′

Don’t force your dog(s) if they seem anxious or scared, make sure they’re enjoying it! Be patient and reward them for their good behaviour. Make sure to end the session with a nice swim or a game that your dog enjoys to associate SUP with fun and quality time spent together! As your dog gradually gains confidence on a paddleboard you can extend your sessions and get ready for your next SUP adventure. 

Photo : @pixel__adventure / Wattsup Espadon 11′

Protect your dog from the Sun and heat

To make your sure your SUP pup sessions are safe and go smoothly, avoid paddleboarding when it’s too hot as your dog(s) can easily overheat. Take regular breaks in the shade (even a good “power” nap if needed) and have plenty of fresh water available for both of you.

Photo : @saturneandrebe / Wattsup Marlin 12′

All you have to do is remember about these user-friendly tips and start enjoying your SUP sessions together. Get your Wattsup board ready, put your life jackets on and set off on a adventure! 

Photo : @romy.thehusky / Wattsup Espadon 11′

To find out more about Wattsup, visit and follow the brand on social media: Facebook / Instagram

*This is a translation of the original article by Laurie Montagner

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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