DOG SURFING GUIDE
Rock Star Training!
Note: Although the author has taken all reasonable care in preparing this site, he makes no warranty about the accuracy or completeness of its content and to the maximum extent permitted disclaims all liability arising from its use.Before teaching your dog how to surf, the first and frankly most important thing is to make sure that your dog is used to swimming in the ocean. If your dog enjoys swimming in lakes and streams but has never swum in the ocean it is essential for him to be acclimatized to salt water and a rapidly moving environment. This may require SEVERAL trips to the ocean. Once you are sure that you have a “happily amphibious canine” (who shows extreme PLEASURE at swimming in the ocean) the next step is to create (for the dog) the psychological feeling of being a “ROCK STAR” (by which I mean that he feels that he is the number one, best, and most amazing animal – explained in detail shortly) as he follows your instructions and stays for extended periods on your board. This can be done in your living room! No pool needed. Simply teach your dog a new word, “BOARD,” and direct him to stand towards the upper top of the board (for this training we suggest that you purchase or rent a LONG BOARD. Even if you are a good surfer, YOUR DOG needs ALL THE SPACE possible for a good 30 sea outings before you move to shorter and narrower surf boards. So … first set up the long board on the floor of your living room and say with a calm, clear voice: “Go to board” or just “BOARD”. At first you may want to take him to the board as you say this and then say “STAY ON BOARD”. After one minute on the board give him a treat. Say again “STAY ON BOARD” and give him another treat after 2 minutes. Then call him to you. Wait a good 10 minutes and start this game again. Repeat MANY times. Extend the time he is to sit on the board and diminish the treats by compensating with great, loud praise and caresses. By the middle of the week you should be able to give the command “Go to board” and the dog will not only GO but will stay on the board without being told to. Once this is achieved you are ready to take the board and your dog to a POOL where you will repeat the same steps that you did in the living room. Use TENDERNESS instead of treats at this stage. Make the dog think he has achieved greatness when he remains on the board (in the pool) for five or more minutes. The pride your dog feels at making you happy is the secret to success. He will start to associate the board with a means to gain your undivided attention! From here on out, ANYTIME your dog surfs you must express the SAME DEGREE of joy and pride towards him. Never forget this because the day your dog sees that the board is no longer a means to connect with you, his interest in staying on the board may fade! Again: the board must become a means to amplify your relationship. Make your dog feel like a rock star each and every time he GOES TO and STAYS ON the board. Before you are done with pool training you must start practicing SHARING THE BOARD with your dog and SHOWING HIM WHERE HIS PLACE IS ON THAT BOARD. Generally I would suggest that he remain in front of you. IMPORTANT: IT IS ESSENTIAL NOT TO USE THE TRACTION PAD UNTIL YOU ARE SHARING THE BOARD IN POOL TRAINING MODE. Now that YOU and your dog are in the pool and both ON the board send your dog (by throwing a toy) to fetch and return to the board. It may require some time before he is able to get back onto the board. Be patient. Naturally, he will go to his place at the front of the board (and on the traction pad). NOW … BRING THE BOARD BACK INDOORS and tell your dog to “BOARD” and GUIDE him to the traction pad. Make him feel that by staying on the traction pad he has become – in your eyes – the biggest, best, and most amazing animal on earth! Show great affection. Do not reward him with treats anymore. Just affection! Go back to the pool a few times. Send him out to fetch a toy and return to the board. Make him stay for several minutes (aim for 10 minutes) and send him back to fetch a toy and return to you (while you are standing or sitting on the board) and get onto the board himself and sit or stand on the traction pad. With this done you are ready to take your dog to sea! REMINDER: THE BOARD IS BY NOW MUCH MORE THAN AN OBJECT THAT CAN FLOAT. IT IS A NEW WAY TO CONNECT WITH EXTREME AFFECTION TO YOUR DOG. AND PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOUR DOG HAS A GOOD CANINE LIFE VEST AND A GOOD WATER AND WIND RESISTANT JACKET!
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IF THIS TAKES PLACE (that the dog starts to “disconnect” from the process you have set up) do not feel that you have failed. Not all dogs are meant to become surfers! Don’t give up right away but I would suggest that you create a mix of swimming, beach running (if it is the summer be attentive to the heat of the sand) and fetching toys. Normally the combination of the training from home and in the pool and the affection you show your dog will, with patience, win the day. That said, please never force your dog to surf! Nothing could be scarier for an animal than being forced into an ocean of sharks without love. NOW WE TURN TO A CHECKLIST:
- Your dog has proven experience swimming in the ocean and LOVES to swim
- You have a large board and a traction pad stuck on the front
- You have a life vest for your dog and a good insulating jacket for him
- You plan to surf ATTACHED to your board at all times
- You have checked the tides, the weather, and spoken to the lifeguard on duty
- You have understood that this site is not an all-encompassing guide and have sought out further information and made your own final checklist.
Basic Safety Tips
Legal: Although the author has taken all reasonable care in preparing this site, he makes no warranty about the accuracy or completeness of its contents and to the maximum extent permitted disclaims all liability arising from its use. And do see detailed: Disclaimer
Consider getting BOTH a buoyancy vest and a canine wetsuit.
You may wish to consider dog aquatic shoes or booties as these can serve two important purposes:
- These booties will help your dog to have a grip on your surfboard.
- If the ocean floor has broken glass, bits of trash, or sharp rocks these shoes will help to protect your dog from harm.
Refresh lesson on how “Rip Currents” work:
After going into the ocean make sure to bathe and/or shower your dog. Rinse their ears well!
Be attentive to your hound’s sensitive paws in the hot summer sand!TOP