How to SUP with Pup

Want to get your furry friend out on your paddleboard? SUP with Pup instructor Maria Schultz provides a few sweet tricks for getting your dog on board (literally).

Our first SUP PUP Clinic of the season wrapped up last weekend, and as usual it was a blast! We truly lucked out because all the pups were young, energetic, and magnets to water.

We had three Labrador Retrievers, and one Golden Retriever – these breeds naturally love the water; they were born and bred to retrieve ducks and other fowl from rivers, lakes and marshes.

People always ask if Retrievers can learn to enjoy SUP because they may have more of a desire to be in the water than on the water. My answer is always the same: with consistent positive training, of course, retrievers can learn to SUP! We always teach the dogs that the board is a place to sit, stay, and not hop off until a command is given. Labs and Goldens love working and naturally want to please us... this makes them easy to train.

Over time as a dog gets better and better at sitting and staying on board, it’s fun to let them jump off and swim for a while to cool off. I like to think of our boards as private islands, where the dogs can leap off of to snatch a toy and get hoisted back on. Especially for Retrievers this just gives them one more thing to look forward to on a paddle.
Another reason our classes are such a success is because of the boards. While we offer a few hard boards for students to try it’s always the inflatables that get the attention.

First, people can’t believe some of the boards are inflatables, and second, they’re so much more dog-friendly. One of the most popular questions I always get is – can my dog’s nails damage or pop the board? The answer is nope – not unless your dog is a relative of a wolverine!

In all my years of paddling and teaching dogs, I have never seen an inflatable damaged from dogs nails.

Hala boards are extremely durable and very strong. The surface of inflatables is also better for dogs because the rubber surface offers more traction than epoxy boards. Add in all of Hala’s other features like extra handlesand rigging points, and you’ve got yourself the perfect dog-friendly setup.

During the second day of class, I always like to let everyone try different boards. Since we always have a variety of sizes available for each human dog duo, it’s the perfect opportunity for people to try several different lengths and widths, to get a feel for how different sizes handle differently.

I’m really excited for our future sessions! Each class is always different and it’s fun to watch different breeds and ages of dogs learn something new. And I also always learn something new from them!Maria Schultz is a team rider for Hala Gear.

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