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Safety

SUP with a dog? This is how you can get started!

Stand up paddle boards became popular recently, and it is even more fun if you take your dog with you! 

At least according to Kari Schibevaag (41), World champion in both snowkiting and kitesurfing. Now she is retired from her sports carrier, but she still spends loads of time on the water, now with her Jack Russel Terrier Truls (12). 

- He is joining everything and loves SUP! Truls likes to stand on the front and enjoy the view. Sometimes we come very close to whales and other animals. Then he becomes completely ecstatic. It also enriches my experiences to see how happy he is on our trips. 

Truls has been joining on the paddle board since he was a puppy, but it is also possible to introduce dogs to this sport as adults. 

What equipment do I need? 

If you take your dog with you on the SUP get a board that is stable and has room for both of you. It should also have a good grip on it, so it is not slippery for the dog.  

- Usually you don`t have to worry about your dog`s claws making holes in your paddleboard. SUP boards are quite solid. I have both driven over rocks and had my dog with me many times and it has never been a problem before.  

The dog should always wear a life jacket for security. Truls is using Safe Life Jacket. 

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-It is a life jacket that suits most dogs and floats well. It is visible and has a sturdy handle which makes it easy to lift the dog up to the board if necessary. Without a handle it can be difficult to get a wet dog out of the water, even if it is a small one! 

This life jacket has also an attachment point for a leash, which can be useful if your dog tends to swim away from you or jump off the board before you give permission. However, in general, the dog should be loose to avoid getting tangled in the leash or injured. You have to pay extra attention if you are using one. 

The reason Truls is always wearing a life jacket, even though he is a good swimmer is because the water can be both cold and unpredictable at times.  

-Accidents can happen and I don`t want to miss my best friend. Therefore, my dog always wears a life jacket when he is on the SUP, kiteboard or boat.  

It can also be clever to take some treats with you to reward your dog with, especially on the first few trips. 

Make your dog feel safe on the paddle board 

Before you take your dog with you out on the water it should feel comfortable on the paddle board in safe environments, on the land. It is important to give your dog a good experience, so it connects the paddle board with something positive.  

You can start with letting the dog examine the board and reward it for it. If it doesn`t go up on the board by itself, you can try luring it up onto it with a treat. Don`t push the dog, let it get to know the board in its own pace 

Once the dog is comfortable with standing on the board you can start moving it. First carefully, only small movements, then slowly bigger ones. If the dog is not used to the board moving it can get scared and unsure once you head out onto the water, therefore it is important to prepare it for what is coming. Advance gradually and reward along the process.  

It can be smart to train commands to go onto and off the board, so you can control when the dog can jump into the water and when it cannot. These commands the dog should also listen to while you are standing on the paddleboard. These you can also practice at home.  

Start on shallow water 

When the dog already handles everything on the surface, you can start moving towards the water. Repeat the process described above on the waterside, so the dog feels comfortable in a new environment too.  

-Before you take your dog with you onto the water, you should also try SUP and feel comfortable on it.  

Start in shallow water. 

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- If your dog happens to get unsure and jump off the board it can be comforting for it to have solid surface under its feet. Praise and reward your dog when it does what you wish from it.  

Kari recommends to knee on the paddleboard in the beginning. It makes it easier to keep your balance, so the board is more stable on the water. 

Short sessions 

Do short sessions in the beginning, so you succeed. 

Another reason to start slowly is that an unstable surface challenges the dogs core musculature. Therefore if your dog does not have strong core muscles from before it can be very tiring for it to stand, sit or lay on the board. For this reason, it is important to increase the length of the sessions gradually.  

-Most dogs love to join out on the water. Truls highly recommends the SUP, says Kari. 

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