Stand Up Paddle Boarding with a Dog

I have ventured out on plenty of stand up paddle (SUP) boarding water adventures, but until today, I had never attempted it with a dog. If you think balancing yourself is a challenge, try bringing a 50 pound dog with ADD. That was my experience today and it was more than comical, it was downright hilarious. I am proud of not falling off, though wish I could say the same for Tucker.

We had no idea what to expect going into this. I’ve seen other people SUP or kayak with dogs, who are docile enough to sit and enjoy the free ride. Tucker has a nickname “Crazy Tucker” for a reason and we were curious to see if he (and we) were up to the challenge.

Just in case, Jeff rented a kayak and I rented the SUP, so that we were diversified in our options. Should we get too far out and have major issues, we at least had another mode of transportation to complete a round trip ride. I was the first to board my board, positioning myself slightly backward of the middle to balance out Tucker on the front.

I started out on my knees until both Tucker and I could find our sea legs. He lost all hearing and forgot all obedience commands as soon as he was on the board. It didn’t matter how many times I told him to “Sit” or “Down” on the front of the board, he wasn’t listening to any of it. He also couldn’t decide whether he wanted to sit on my lap, which makes it super easy to paddle (HA!), or stand up at the stern.

Eventually I got the nerve to stand up myself and wow, that was a harder workout. Tucker does not stop moving. It would be one thing if he just stood in one place, but he was all over the board…facing forward, sideways, toes on the nose, in the middle. There was a brief moment where he laid down on the life vest and I told Jeff to quickly capture a picture.

Ideal SUP Positions
Don’t let this picture fool you, this was the only time we were in optimal SUP positions.

If we passed Jeff and he ended up behind us, Tucker would freak out that the pack wasn’t together and he couldn’t see his dad in his periphery. He would then run to the back of the paddle board, requiring going through my legs or pushing my legs to the side to get around them. (His leash tangled around my ankles more than a few times.) Then when Jeff would get ahead of us again, Tucker would run back through my legs to the front…wobbling the board with every step. I’m amazed I didn’t fall off.

Tucker, on the other hand, fell off about six times. The first time, he started swimming toward Jeff. Halfway there, he realized how far he was and made a u-turn back to me where I pulled him back up onto the board. After that, each time he fell of it was a swift shift back toward the board and I would quickly pull him back on. We became very efficient at it. Of course, that also meant a hearty shake off of the water, which would wobble the board even more. (Did I mention what a core workout this is?)

Shaking Dog
Tucker shaking off the water after being pulled back on the board.

We only rented the board and kayak for two hours from Huntington Harbor Boat Rentals. Realizing we were not pacing well for our return, with all our starts and stops, we decided to see how Tucker would do in the kayak instead. In the middle of the harbor, Jeff and I sidled up to each other and managed to transfer Tucker without anyone falling in.

As you can see, Jeff didn’t have any more luck than I did keeping Tucker in one place. However, we did move at a smoother and quicker pace now that he was no longer falling into the water.

SUP and kayaking is much more entertaining with a dog, albeit more challenging. We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and Tucker was a champ. I don’t know which hurts more, my legs or my cheeks from laughing. I wonder what the residents looking out their windows thought of the show happening in their backyard? I hope we gave them a laugh too!

2 thoughts on “Stand Up Paddle Boarding with a Dog

  1. I loved your pictures and I had a smile from ear to ear while reading your post. Thanks for sharing. My wife and I used to – and I say used to because I messed up my back – go kayaking with our 2 dogs. Cynthia would put Bella, a 50lb. pit bull, in her kayak and I would put Alex, a pit bull mix of about 42lbs., in my kayak. To say that we were sored after kayaking with them would be an understatement. At the beginning, it was an odyssey just like what you went through, but after that first time things went super smooth. Both our pit bulls are gone. Now we have Abby, a Beagle/Bull Dog mix, weighing about 34lbs and we’ll be kayaking next Summer. It was fun. Yes, even when they did not cooperate it was fun. Enjoy your time with your family, it really is precious.


    1. Marcela – Thank you for sharing these sentiments. I wholeheartedly agree that this is precious time with family AND share your sore legs experience. Sorry to hear about your back and glad you were able to relive those memories of your precious pit bulls. Tucker is part pit himself (which you may have noticed). I’m glad to hear that it will get easier, although I would not have traded that experience of laughing until it hurt like we had yesterday. Appreciate your reaching out!

      Liked by 1 person

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