Sunday, August 30, 2020

SUP with a dog - All you need to know.


Captured by Jessica Coates Photography.

We first tried paddle boarding together a year ago and instantly fell in love! We had been hoping to get out a lot more this year but the current circumstances put a stop to that, closing all of the hire places (some still haven't reopened) so I made the decision to purchase my own board, giving us the freedom to go where we want, when we want. I am still a complete novice, learning myself but I've had so many questions about getting out and getting a dog on board, I thought I'd put together this blog to try and answer a few!

Q. How do you introduce a dog to the board?

Murphy took to it straight away, he saw me on the board and didn't hesitate about jumping straight on and joining me, so I've really been lucky and it's not something I've had to work on with him at all. If you do have a nervous dog I'd recommend introducing them to the board gradually, have them get on the board once inflated before you launch on the water, offer lots of praise and treats once on the board and show them it's not something to fear. When introducing water for the first time try super short paddles, letting them get off after a few minutes and then try gradually increasing the time you're out on the water. 

Q. How do you get a dog to stay on the board? 

Being a water loving spaniel, Murphy pleasantly surprises me by staying on the board. The only time he will jump off is when we approach land again. If this is something you're thinking of doing with your pup I would always recommend they wear a life jacket (most places won't let them paddle without one anyway.) This will give you the security and peace of mind, if they do jump off as you can very easily pull them back on using the grab handle on the life jacket. 

Captured by: Jessica Coates Photography

Q. How long does it take to set up? 

It takes around 10-15 mins to fully inflate to the recommended PSI of 15. It's super easy to do and the pump clearly shows you the PSI so there is no risk of over inflating (though you'd need some super serious strength to do this anyway because as soon as it hits 12, those last 3 require some serious superhuman  strength!) For those with a bad memory the recommended PSI is labelled on the board where you inflate as a handy reminder. 

Q. Do you need to be athletic / have a lot of strength? 

No, absolutely not! I am one of the weakest and least athletic people you will ever meet and if I can do it anyone can! Not gonna lie, I find standing up difficult especially with a dog on board. I'm still most comfortable sat or kneeling and I've only managed to stand up with Murphy on board for a grand total of around 3 minutes to date but it's such a great feeling when you do achieve that and practice makes perfect as they say! 

Q. Does Murphy stay still / does he unbalance the board? 

Murphy doesn't stay still! Each time I take him out on it though he is getting better as he gets more used to it but he does like to stroll up and down the board and yes this obviously does make it harder to balance. However he is a relatively small dog weighing 13kg so it's not too bad in the sense I will fall off if he moves. It's all about doing what you're comfortable with, yes it's called 'stand up paddle boarding' but there's no rule that says you have to stand. If you don't have the confidence to stand, sit or kneel. If you purchase your own board many of them come with a kayak conversion seat and I love having this option too. 

Q. What board do you have / What board would you recommend for beginners? 

I chose an Inviato Allround XL by Two Bare Feet because at 35" it was one of the widest boards I could find. The above average width obviously gives it greater stability, which being a less experienced rider and wanting to take Murphy on board as well is the one thing I saw as a priority. Once I have built some confidence and technique I will then look at upgrading to a narrower board, I think of my board as my first bike with stabilisers!! 😂😂 If you're a beginner looking to purchase your own board look at the allround models, if you're unsure ask what board the company you're looking into would recommend. 

Q. How easy is it to pack away and transport? 

My Two Bare Feet board deflates in under 5 minutes and came with its own dry bag/rucksack for transporting, so once it's deflated it's just a case of rolling it up and returning it to the bag! (Don't worry it's not like most things where they make the bag 10 times smaller than the product so that after the first use you can never get it small enough to fit in again!) It is fairly heavy and uncomfortable to carry on your back for long distances so ideally you want the car close by! I can walk for a maximum of around 15 mins carrying it. 

Q. What do I need to SUP?

Whether you're purchasing your own board or hiring you will need: 

* A life jacket / buoyancy aid for yourself AND your pup (obviously if you're hiring they will supply you with one but not your pup, often the conditions of you being allowed to take the dog on is that they wear a life jacket.) 

* Appropriate clothing. Chances are you're gonna get wet, even if you don't fall off. 

* Dry bag. You want to protect anything you do take on the water with you and deposit all those wet garments on the way home! 


*Dry Clothes (schoolgirl error, I forgot these last time AND I fell in. Lesson learnt) 

Captured by: Jessica Coates Photography

Q. How much does it cost to hire? / Where can I hire?  

Most places range from £10-£15 an hour, occasionally some places will do offers for hiring for the entire day. A quick google search should bring up somewhere close to you that offers SUP hire but some popular ones are: 

Windermere Canoe Kayak - Lake District

Rother Valley Country Park - South Yorkshire

Rutland Water - East Midlands 

Liverpool SUP Co - North West

For anyone thinking about trying this with their dog I honestly couldn't recommend it more! Besides being fun, it's also pretty relaxing and the feeling of peace and tranquillity you get whilst out on the water is what I love the most. Take baby steps; sit, kneel or stand whatever you feel comfortable with but most importantly enjoy it! 

Love Kelly & Murphy x x x 

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