September 11, 2020 10 min read

Can you paddle board with a dog?

Anyone with a dog in their family and a paddle board in their quiver has probably dreamt of taking their furry best friend for a ride. With the correct preparation and gear you can be well on your way to gliding across the water and creating an even stronger bond with your pup. Isn’t that a dreamy image?

Paddle boarding is becoming one of the trendiest and hottest activities going on. Having a four-legged buddy riding up front with you takes paddle boarding to the next level.

Before you get out on the water, you obviously need a board. So are you searching for the perfect dog paddle board? There is a lot out there but don’t worry. With some helpful advice and tips you will be able to find the best board for you and your pooch. The right board is just waiting for you to find it.

Best paddle board for dogs - man kneeling

How to paddle board with your dog

Before you get going, you need to make sure your gear is up for the challenge and that you know what you are doing. Picking out the right stand up paddle board for you and your pooch is the first step before you can hit the water.

After that, you need to consider several other key aspects before you set off. These include but are not limited to:

  • The right set up including SUP, traction pad, and a dog life jacket
  • Understand basic commands such as sit and stay
  • Introduce your dog to the board on dry land
  • Positively encouraging your dog and reward with treats

The key thing to keep in mind when beginning to paddle board with your furry friend is to give yourself time. In time you will be able to practice and your dog’s confidence will increase on and around paddle boards. So be patient with your pooch and also with yourself for the best results.

Read more here: How to Paddle Board with Your Dog

Safety to consider when taking your dog on a SUP

Safety is the number one priority with any sport. When paddling with dogs, safety should always be on the forefront of your mind.

Most fur-parents are already clued up on pup safety. However these are some of the basic points to remember when taking your pup out for a paddle boarding adventure:

  • Never leave your dog unattended or in a car
  • Always use a pup friendly sunscreen
  • Be aware of beach or lake hazards
  • Sit down or kneel when close to hazards
  • Wash off your dog and equipment thoroughly after paddling
  • Bring a first aid kit

You can never be too careful. And remember, your dog is putting their trust in you entirely. So make sure you put their safety above everything else.

Can dogs ride on an inflatable SUP?

Are you struggling to decide between a hard fiberglass SUP and an inflatable stand up paddle board? There is no problem whatsoever having your dog onboard a decent inflatable paddle board.

Any mid-range to high-end quality inflatable paddle boards are made from top-quality materials that can handle four-legged riders.

We do not recommend taking your dog on low-budget iSUPS in case they puncture through the surface with their claws.

Always make sure you trim your pooch’s nails to a safe, short, and suitable length before jumping on the board.

Best paddle board for dogs - man and two dogs

Training tips for you and your dog

To begin with, you need to make sure that both you and your dog have a solid level of trust. This comes from time, praise, reward, routine, play, exercise, and so on.

Next up you need to have nailed the basic commands: sit and stay. By using treats you can incentivize your dog to sit down in front of you. You then say “yes” and reward them. Once you have that in the bag, you then move on to stay by asking them to sit, then stepping backwards.

Here are some key things to keep in mind when training your dog:

  • Set “house rules” and stick to them
  • Have a routine
  • Reward good behavior with treats
  • Create a calm environment at home
  • Teach them to come when called
  • Tell them off if they nip/bite even if playful
  • Always end positively with scratches and pats
  • Be patient and allow time

By using the above tips, you will soon be on the way to paddle boarding with your furry best friend on the board with you.

Best paddle board for dogs - dog on gili board

What is the best SUP for dogs?

The best SUP for dogs should be wide, stable, and offer a good amount of traction for them to grip.

The size of the stand up paddle board really depends on the size and weight of your dog. A small or medium sized dog breed, weighing under 60 lbs should be fine on any stable SUP. If you have a larger dog breed weighing over 60 lbs then we recommend you look at getting a 10 feet or more SUP.

Whichever stand up paddle board you go for, be sure to master the board sport yourself before taking your dog out for a spin. You need to be able to stop, turn, paddle, and maintain your balance confidently before you even begin to think to take dogs out.

Check out these dog boards we recommend. All of the inflatable paddle boards from GILI Sports are suitable for carrying your dog on the deck with extra large traction pads including as standard and easy to use hand pump for inflation.

GILI Komodo

The GILI Komodo is the most versatile paddle board in our collection. This exceptional all-around paddle board is great for gentle cruises, SUP yoga, having a passenger, and of course, taking your dog for a spin.

The dimensions are ideal to give your dog a stable and comfortable platform to sit on. At 10’6” in length and 33” in width, this wide board is the best option for you and your dog.

Make use of the full length traction pad by removing the removable bungee cords, giving your dog more space to stretch out and maintain their balance.

This inflatable board can easily support up to 340 lbs, so there are no issues if you have a large breed of dog. It’s important to understand the correct size paddle board for you and your pooch.

Hands and paws down, this is the best inflatable SUP for you and your dog!

GILI Meno

Next best is the GILI Meno. You can choose from two sizes, 10’6 or 11’6, both of which offer great stability from the nose right through to the tail of the board. If you have an extra-large dog, or perhaps you want to take the whole pack out, you can size up your paddle board with the 11’6” option that has a weight capacity of 485 lbs.

Despite the pointed nose shape, you can still glide effortlessly across the water thanks to the excellent stability provided in the carbon fiber rail.

There is no risk of your dog damaging the deck with the extra large EVA traction pad that is already installed on the triple layer, fusion laminated PVC material with military grade durability.

The GILI Meno is a more expensive option to go for. However, this premium gives you faster inflating time on the hand pump and a super high level of performance that you can feel right under your feet and paws.

GILI Adventure

The GILI Adventure inflatable stand up paddle board is the ultimate adventurer’s board and another great option for paddling with your dog.

This inflatable board is specially designed for SUP touring with excellent utility and performance capabilities.

You will need to be on top of your balance for both yourself and your dog as this is a more performance based paddle board with the narrower, pointed nose and increased rocker.

Again, we have an inbuilt traction pad ready for use and bungee cords to carry whatever supplies you need for the trip - perhaps a coolbox of sandwiches and dog treats.

GILI Air

And finally, we have the GILI Air inflatable SUP. This board is better suited for SUP surfing and hitting the waves, making it a great option if you want to rip it up with your dog!

You may find the balance a little bit harder to master on this board with your dog due to only being 31” wide. However, the traction pad does cover the entire width of the board to give you and your pooch extra grip.

When fully inflated, this board even feels and maneuvers like a hard fiberglass paddle board. If you are looking to hit the waves with your dog, this is the board to go for.

Features to keep in mind when choosing the best SUP for your dog

When choosing which stand up paddle board to buy for you and your dog, there are some key features that you must keep in mind. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Stability
  • Size
  • Shape and design
  • Traction pad
  • Materials
  • Bungee cords and other accessories

Let’s look at each of these in detail so you are totally clued up on paddle boards and their features for dogs.

Stability

The number one feature you need to keep in mind is stability. Even though dogs have four legs, we do need to give them as much help with their balance when first starting off on the SUP.

Your pup will probably be curious about the water and move around the stand up paddle board to get a good look at what is going on. A nice wide board will provide maximum stability while out on the water and be forgiving in balance for when your dog does move around the board.

As you and your dog spend more time on the water paddling together, you will find your balance and stability faster and you will be able to begin reducing the width of the board for better surfing performance.

A board with good stability will also be able to handle the small choppy waves that you may come across while out on the water.

Best paddle board for dogs - lying down with dog

SUP Size

As we have said before, the bigger and wider the board the better. Size does matter. 10 feet long or more is the recommended and preferred size for taking dogs onboard. For width, you need at least 30 inches wide to make for easy paddling and to assist your pup finding their balance on the water, especially for their first time.

You really do need to consider size if you are taking dogs over 60 lbs on the board. It is best to check the manufacturer’s weight capacity just to be safe. Whereas, small dog breeds will be comfortable on pretty much any sized board.

Due to the large size of the board needed, this is why an inflatable paddle board is often more preferred over a fiberglass option. An iSUP can be deflated, packed into a backpack, and stored easily. Also, inflatable stand up paddle boards tend to be lighter than fiberglass which gives an extra element of safety in case your pooch falls overboard or gets knocked by a rail. An inflatable SUP also allows for easier travelling for you and your dog.

Shape and Design

The shape and design is also an important factor to keep in mind when shopping for a board. Most of the time, your dog will be located up front on the nose to get the best view and help with weight distribution.

Therefore, a nice wide and rounded nose is often preferred and highly recommended. While a narrow and pointed nose aids with maneuverability, your pooch will be limited for space and is more likely to fall overboard.

Paddle Board Dog Pad / Traction Pad

Your dog will thank you for having a decent traction pad under their paws. Every inflatable SUP from GILI Sports includes a traction pad already. Being equipped with one will decrease the chance of slipping and help with balance.

If you get a board that does not have a pad already installed, then you can easily add one on yourself.

It not only assists grip while on the board, but it will also help your pooch get back up if they do jump in for a swim in the water half way through the paddle.

Best paddle board for dogs - dog in trees

Materials

You want to be buying a paddle board that has decent quality materials. Any low budget board will run the risk of being punctured or scratched by your dog’s nails. If you are going for an inflatable paddle board, make sure the PVC is double, if not triple, layered to ensure top quality for you and your pooch.

Bungee Cords

Bungee cords are loved by most paddle boarders. They provide excellent storage while out on water adventures, securing bags and water bottles.

However, dogs are not fans. If you have bungee cords on your paddle board it is essential that you remove these to allow your dog complete freedom to walk up and down the board. If you leave the bungee cords on, your pup is likely to trip over them and possibly fall off your board.

If you are unable to remove the bungee cords, then encourage and train your pooch to sit on the area that does not have them.

Additional important factors to consider

Every dog has their own quirks and individual personalities. This is why we love them! Just make sure you consider three key things before hitting the water with your own SUP and pooch onboard:

  1. Your dog's size
  2. Your dog’s personality and temperament
  3. Your paddling skill level

Big, small, old, young, nervous, confident, swimmer, floater… The list goes on for describing dogs and how they may react in or around water.

It goes without saying, if you have a large dog (over 60 lbs) you do need to be heading out on a larger SUP with a nice rounded nose for added stability. If your pooch is small or medium sized (under 60 lbs) then you should be able to fit them on most general-purpose paddleboards.

Remember to never push your dog if they are uncomfortable or nervous. You want to be positively encouraging them with treats and praise to settle them on the board.

Best paddle board for dogs - smiling man

Final expert tips for paddle boarding with your dog

Finding the best SUP for you and your dog is exciting. With careful consideration and research you will be well on your way to paddle boarding into the sunset with your pooch by your side.

Our last piece of advice to give is to carry an emergency paddle board inflatable repair kit. By having a quick and easy repair kit for your board you will be able to patch up any scratches mid-paddle and not have to call it a day early.

So what are you waiting for? Get your hands and paws on a new board and start paddling with your dog today!

Warren Tsoi
Warren Tsoi

Editor - Warren is an avid waterman and conservationist who will take any chance to be outdoors. He believes the best way to protect our environment is to get people outside to appreciate nature.


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