SUP Dogs: Keep Your SUP Pet Safe

Stand-Up- Paddling (SUP) Suggestions to keep your pup safe by Rudy Reynolds, Miniature Schnauzer.

Rudie: Author, adventurer, SUP charger.
Rudy: Author, adventurer, SUP charger.

If you are at the point to take your best friend for a paddle, it’s time to think of safety.  It may take months of training to get your pup ready, or your pup could be a natural to the sport.

Your pup may be a great swimmer or just enjoy being on the board taking in the sights (my preference).  Still, keeping us safe should be as big of a concern as keeping yourself safe.  My humans thought this through for me and came up with these safety measures:


First and foremost, one must feel 100% safe before taking ones pup (or anyone/animal/or person) on a SUP for a paddle.   Some risk concerns are water temperatures, river currents, oceans waves, other vessels – power boaters, debris in the water, etc.  Conditions can vary depending on when and where you are paddling.


Many local pet stores carry pet specific life jackets and there are many online dog life jacket options. I am not a swimmer so a life jacket is crucial.  Even for good swimmers, or older pups, a long distance swim may be exhausting and a life jacket may be a lifesaver.  My life jack has a ‘handle’ so I can easily be lifted up.


My humans decided to tether me to the board with a ‘quick’ release leash just like the ones that are recommended for humans.  Should I accidentally fall off the board, they can simply pull me in and lift me onto the board.  We have received some feedback on pups being tethered or not.  The objections have been that there was a concern of a pup staying attached to the board and being caught, maybe under something, and unable to swim/dog paddle their way out.  Should you tether your pup, make sure not to attach the line to the collar.  I get tethered from my life jacket.

Rudie waiting patiently for his driver to find second gear.
Rudy waiting patiently for his driver to find second gear.


One of my humans is highly concerned about protecting my eyes.  If she is wearing sunglasses, she puts sunglasses on me too!  I have a goggle type and some that look like regular sunglasses.  Either pair protect my eyes. Your dogger may object to the eye wear and training may be a process. Please keep in mind, there is additional light reflecting from the surface of the water on a sunny day creating harsh light conditions for eyes!


Just in case you become separated from your dogger, please ensure he/she is wearing tags with your contact information.  Micro chipping is also recommended.


Please remember to be patient while we learn how to balance alongside you and soon enough we’ll be going on adventures together!  Our safety is as essential as yours, so please consider a well fitting life jacket that allows us to be safe and easily accessible from the water.  Don’t forget that bright conditions affect dog’s eyes as well as humans; if you’re protecting your eyes, please consider ours too! Don’t forget to make sure I am identifiable.  I might be somewhere on the shore or downstream far ahead of you!  Be safe and have fun!



About the author:

Rudy Reynolds is a rescue; believed to be a Miniature Schnauzer.  He was transported to Oregon from California.  He was a stray – unaltered and not micro-chipped.  He now spends much of the year SUPing around the Pacific Northwest and training his humans.  He can be regularly seen around the Portland area and also frequents several SUP Facebook groups on a regular basis.  Autographs welcome  paws