Winter: the best time to start stand up paddle boarding with dogs

Ok, you’ve read the title and you’re thinking, “Yeah, sure. Not when you live in Chicago!” It’s true that not all of us live in the warmth of California, Florida or Hawaii where most outdoor activities are year round. But no matter where you live in the US, we promise you that stand up paddle boarding with dogs is best started in the depths of winter. Here’s why.

Stand Up Paddleboarding or SUP has seen a surge in popularity over recent years.  People are increasingly seeing the benefits of getting active outdoors with their dogs. Many are trying SUP as a different way to be outside with their pup. The key to successful stand up paddle boarding with dogs relies on 2 things. The human having good core body strength and the dog being comfortable with the idea of being on the board. If you want to SUP with your dog this spring, then the winter is the perfect time to prepare. 

Core strengthening exercises are beneficial for anyone trying out SUP.  There are several different exercises that all have benefits for different reasons. 

  1. The plank. An awesome way to strengthen the core muscles without straining the lower back area. As the plank helps your shoulder, hip and quad strength too it really is a great exercise for SUP. Regularly doing the plank (and slide plank) will ensure that you have less muscle fatigue and better control when you get out onto the water.
  2. Crunches. A more traditional form of abdominal exercise but has many benefits and is really helpful for people doing stand up paddle boarding.
  3. Pilates. The perfect activity to build strength in your core through the small controlled movements. Sign up for a winter class in your area and find out how great it is.

Getting your dog comfortable with the idea of being on the board is important and training is needed. Put your paddle board on dry land – indoors or outdoors depending on the weather. Just get your dog used to sitting on it and how it moves when the dog stands or sits again. It can take a while to get your dog to feel comfortable with this movement, so doing this regularly over a couple months is very helpful. 

Once your dry-land training has started.  It’s important to plan for the actual in-water event. 

  1. Signing up for a SUP class for the spring is a great way to start with experienced people to show you the SUP ropes in a controlled setting.
  2. Give your dog plenty of exercise before you get in the water, so that he is less restless. 
  3.  Dogs typically love to swim so give him swimming time too.  
  4. Spend small amounts of time initially on the board and build that time up gradually. 
  5.  Equip your car for SUP too.  Adding a trunk liner is great for keeping the interior of your trunk clean and dry following a fun SUP excursion. The addition of a Travall Guard ensures a comfortable, secure position for your dog at the rear of the vehicle and less driving distraction for you on the way to the beach or lake and on the way home.

So starting SUP training for you and your dog is ideally done in December.  By the time the weather has improved and SUP sessions are available again in the spring, both you and your dog will be in board-ready shape with both core strength and confidence. Happy paddling!