Want to Paddleboard With Your Small Dog? Get Started with These 5 Tips

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) been around for thousands of years in one form or another, but the sport hasreally taken off in the last 10 years.

Many people have discovered that paddleboarding with a dog is a great way to bond and get exercise.

If you’re ever seen a dog paddle boarding, you can see how much fun they’re having.

I tried paddleboarding with my small dogs for the first time 3 years ago and loved it!

Benefits of Paddleboarding with a Dog

It’s no wonder that paddleboarding with a dog is so popular. There are so many benefits.

It’s a workout

Paddleboarding can be quite the workout.

For you, paddleboarding provides cardio exercise while you are paddling and a muscle strengthening while you are using leg, and core body, muscles to balance.

Your dog also has to use these same muscles to balance on an unstable surface so it helps develop your dog’s core strength, leg strength, and balance too.

It’s a great bonding experience

While it’s easy to just lift a small dog onto a paddleboard and head out, that’s not the best idea.

You should get your dog used to standing on an unstable surface before progressing to a paddle board by using a blalance disk or K9 Fit Bone.

It’s also good if you teach your dog place – to stand or sit in a designaged place like a towel on the bow of the paddlboard – in case you need them to stop walking around on the board.

During this training process, your dog will learn to trust you and it can strengthen your bond with your dog.

Paddleboarding with your dog is fun

If you’re like me, if your dog can’t go, you often don’t either.

Paddleboarding is a great outdoor activity to do with your dog by your side.

Even dogs that aren’t big fans of water – and I’ve found a lot of Dachshunds and other small dogs aren’t – usually like to stand proudly on the bow of the paddleboard and feel the wind in their face.

You and your dog can turn it into a whole day adventure by padding somewhere, pulling ashore for a picnic, and heading back to watch the sunset together.

SUP With Your Dog Tips

5 Beginner Tips for Paddleboarding with Your Small Dog

If you’re ready to hit the water on a stand up paddleboard with your dog, these 5 tips will help any beginner get started.

1) Start with a big, stable paddleboard

Having a stable paddleboard will be easier for you to maneuver and balance with your dog on it.

That way you can concentrate more on fun than worrying about your paddleboarding skill and form.

2) Take a dog friendly paddleboarding lesson

Small dogs under 20 lbs are pretty easy to balance and paddle with. Most of the time you can just put them on and go.

However, YOU should take a lesson to learn how to paddle properly and efficiently, balance tips, and learn about paddleboard-specific water safety.

Also, even though most small dogs take to the sport right away, it can definitely be helpful to “give your dog lessons” before you go for the first time.

This can be as easy as making sure your dog is comfortable balancing on an unstable surface. You can lure your pup onto the board with treats and then rewarding them handsomely for staying on it.

If you don’t have access to a paddleboard to practice, a balance disk, or balance peanut, held stable between your legs can be used to mimic the surface of a paddleboard.

If you don’t want your small dog walking around on the surface of the board while you paddle, teaching them to sit, or lay down, and stay in one spot is a handy command for your dog to know.

3) Dress appropriately

If it’s hot and you have too many clothes on, or it’s cold and you don’t have enough on, you may not have as much fun.

Dress in layers that are easy to remove while standing or kneeling.

No-slip neoprene socks or booties with will help keep your feet warm give you better traction on the deck.

Both you and your dog should always wear a life jacket.

If your dog has short hair, and especially if they have light skin, consider buying them a sun-blocking rash guard for dogs to prevent burning.

4) Put a towel on the deck

Wetting a towel and placing it on the front of the paddleboard will help your dog grip the board and keep from sliding off.

If your dog feels like they aren’t going to slip, they will be more confident and have more fun.

5) Accessorize

The #1 accessory you will want with you is a waterproof camera or regular camera/cell phone inside of a water-tight bag.

There will be a lot of fun photo ops you’ll want to share with your friends and family.

Also, having a dry bag you can strap to the deck is nice for keeping your extra clothes, water, snacks, etc. handy and from getting water-logged.

Also don’t forget sunscreen and water.

Where to Get a Paddleboard

There are three options here – buy, rent, or borrow a paddleboard.

Buying a paddleboard

You can buy a paddleboard at an outdoor retailer.

The advantage of this is that you can see and feel it in person first. Also, there will be a sales person that can help guide you toward the right choice.

If you buy a paddleboard, you can take it wherever you want like this amazing paddleboarding spot at Lake Wenatchee in Washington State.

You can also order paddleboards online from a retailer. You can often find sales and deals easier this way but you will usually have to pay a big shipping fee so be sure to factor that into the overall cost.

You can find used ones on sites like Facebook marketplace and Craigslist.

If you find one for sale in the off-season (fall or winter) they will usually cost less than if you buy them during prime paddleboarding season (spring and summer)

Renting a paddleboard

If you don’t want to buy a paddleboard, you can rent one.

Believe it or not, in my experience, at least half of the rental places I’ve checked out allow dogs on their boards.

You’re more likely to find available rentals in urban areas (like Seattle or Denver), or popular outdoor tourist destinations (like Bend, Or).

The advantage of renting is you don’t have to spend a lot of money before you are sure you and your small dog even like paddleboarding.

The disadvantage is that you have to find a place that allows dogs on their boards and you often aren’t allowed to transport them to your desired location.

Borrow one

Of course, it’s may also be an option to borrow one from a friend.

You’re friend is probably not going to mind if your dog gets on the board (be sure to ask first though), they will probably let you haul it to wherever you want, and they are likely to let you use it free of charge (or maybe for a case of beer.)

To read more about paddleboarding from me – and specifically about paddleboarding in Leavenworth and Wenatchee, Washington, check out the story I wrote for the CityDog Magazine Summer 2016 Travel + Adventure Guide (starts on page 16)

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m a Dachshund sitter, President of the largest social Dachshund club in Washington State, a dog trainer in training, and I’ve been a Dachshund owner for 20 years. I have over 150,000 hours of experience with the breed. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. I have always wanted to try this with Barley–but Lake Erie is just a little too big for me to feel comfortable trying it out. I’m afraid we’ll end up drifting away to Canada! I’ll have to do some more investigating to see if there are other smaller places we could give it a try.

    1. It can be hard to paddle in wind when it’s choppy but it’s not impossible. You would probably be fine. But this is coming from someone who has been too chicken to try it in Puget Sound – big, open body of salt water – and I am sure Lake Eerie is very similar.

  2. I want to get a paddleboard sooo bad! I know I’ll love it, and I want to teach Dante and Ziva how to ride on it with me. I ultimately want to take them both out at the same time, we’ll start slow though and train them separately. I met a lady though who SUP’s with her 3 full sized German Shepherd dogs so I know I can do it! I was looking at getting one of the yoga SUP boards since they are wider and stable.

    1. Yes, a yoga board is probably the way to go. They don’t go fast but they go and there is way less chance of falling off… although the water CAN be refreshing 🙂 We started out on a wide, stable board but bought a different type. I didn’t realize the ones we got would be so much harder to balance on.

  3. I love this. I don’t think I could do it with Rama, though, lol. It’s too swampy here, too. Ugh. But I have been toying with the idea of kayaking with the dogs. It just seems so relaxing.

    1. I guess you could if you had a double kayak where Rama could sit in one cockpit or a sit-on-top where she could sit in front of or behind you. We kayaked with the pups before we ever went paddleboarding.

  4. My mom really wants to try this, most likely with Bailie because Bailie likes floating on things in the water. They did try kayaking and it was a lot of fun. We have to find a spot where we can rent a paddle board and that allows dogs. It looks like so much fun!

  5. Stand up paddle boarding seems like a great activity for you and your canine companion but if it’s like me who cannot balance well, I will need to practice a lot before bringing any pet on board.

    1. You just need a bigger paddleboard 🙂 Seriously, There was almost no way to fall of the huge paddleboard I started on. You can also start out the day paddling on your knees until you feel more comfortable.

  6. We can’t stop Henry (our dog) from getting on the paddle boards with us. He loves it. The only problem was the front of the board where he was riding was really slick. The first few times he learned the hard way (it was kind of funny). My husband recently got a board with a full length deck pad so Henry doesn’t slip anymore! Seriously, we have the best time paddling around with him. And he’s a big time-swimmer so it’s perfect. Kayaking was a no-no… he jumped out a few times capsizing the kayak in the process…. yes he’s a maniac for sure…but so much fun!

    1. Hi Zoe. I’m glad you found what worked. Paddleboarding with a dog is so much fun. We had a similar issue with the slick deck but I wet a town and put it on the front for them 🙂

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