Surfing with your canine pal can be great fun and rewarding for both of you in terms of exercise and having fun together. If you're keen to get your dog surfing with you, this article will help you to get Fido used to the waves and surfing like a pro in no time!
- Make sure you have a dog surfboard. Your dog's paws can be harmed if he is not using the right board, wax or track top. Foam boards might be a little easier on your dog's paws than a hard surface, and it's easier for him to walk on because there is more traction for his paws. On the other hand, the dog will scratch into the foam, and the foam might dig into the dog's paws, possibly giving it a rash.
- Get your dog some gear too. Suitable items include a dog life vest, dog wetsuits, dog beach towels, water and salt waterproof bungee leashes, pet tent (for a rest in while you keep surfing), and EZ chairs for the beach (more for you!).
- Start small. Begin somewhere easy, like a swimming pool or a lake on a really flat wave day. Throw your dog's favorite fetch toy into the water and see if he retrieves it. If he does, he is probably a water-loving dog. Having other dogs that like the water will also encourage your dog into the water.
- Demonstrate by example and get your dog excited about being in the water with you. Let your dog watch you on a boogie board or surfboard to get him fired up to join you. Talk to him, call to him, and encourage him to come into the water and play nearby while watching what you're doing.
- Play with your dog in the water.
- Let your dog play on the board.
- Develop your dog's trust (the number one element for success); don't start off too fast and make sure that it is fun for your dog.
- Get your dog used to the board on the sand or on another suitable surface before going into the water. Test your dog's balance to see where he likes to place himself on the board. Some smaller dogs like the nose of the board, some heavier dogs have a better center of gravity and like the middle to the back of the board. Depending on size, however, your dog should be roughly about two-thirds of the way back, with his tail over the board's fin.
- If your dog is too far forward, the board will nosedive under the wave.
- If your dog is too far back, the nose will come out of the water and the board won't catch the wave.
- Pop on your dog's pet (personal) flotation device (PFD). The dog PFD will provide your dog with greater flotation when he wipes out in the surf. Many dog life vests have a handle on top that lets you gently pull your canine pal back on the board or out of the water when needed.
- Paddle out. On a longboard, get on the board with the dog and paddle into the waves. You should be behind the dog for best results when paddling through the breakers. On a shortboard or boogie board, put the dog on the board and push him out through the breakers.
- Catch the wave. Start with small waves, roughly 1-2 feet (30cm - 60cm). Even champion surfing dogs don't tackle surf much bigger than 3-4 feet (90cm - 120cm).
- Push off and shred. Catching the wave is a knack that requires timing, finesse, patience and lots of repetition.
- Get your dog started in the wave each time and then let him surf the wave on his own. Try to get the dog started right when the waves starts to curl.
- Now your dog and you are surfing! Bow Wow Bunga, dude!
- Get your dog on the surfboard at the tide and walk him out towards the waves. Position him facing the beach and give him a small push towards the angle of the wave that's not breaking.
- Try the pet, rafting, or boating sections to find a dog PFD.
- Only take your dog to a beach that allows dogs. Check the local ordinances first.
- Surfboards have been known to cause a bruise or two when they're bobbing around in the waves, so be careful.
- Surfing just isn't for some dogs. If your dog doesn't show interest in surfing no matter what you do, don't force them. It's better for surfing to be an indifferent experience than a traumatizing one!
Things You'll Need
- Surfboard suitable for dog
- Additional dog accessories as needed
- Beach gear (towel, umbrella, sunscreen, etc.)
- Leash in case you need to restrain Fido for any reason
- How to Surf
- How to Pack a Surfboard for Travel
- How to Choose a Surfboard for Your Dog
- How to Get a Surf Report from a Cell Phone
- How to Gain a Dog's Trust
Please find a video and author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Teach Your Dog to Surf. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.