This month, it’s all about dog surfing! Surfing has a rich history in Southern California, and the Santa Monica area specifically. It would only make sense that locals make sure everyone can enjoy the family beach day. At least, this is how many dogs became involved with dog surfing, an increasingly popular dog sport in coastal cities around the globe.
The number one thing nearly all surfing dog parents agree on is that in order to teach your dog to surf, the dog must express desire, comfort, and confidence before they catch their first wave. DO NOT coerce or force your dog onto a surfboard. Another thing dog owners and experts can agree on: dogs should always wear lifevests when surfing, no matter how experienced they are. Not all dogs love being in the water, but with proper training, you can teach your dog to associate the water with a happy place.
Of course, not all dogs who love water live by the beach. Watersports including dock diving, frisbee, towing, and swimming, which can be done in a pool, lake, or pond!
Unlike most other sports we’ve covered in this series, teaching your dog to surf does require a bit of experience from the owner, and it requires constant attention and participation while your dog is in the ocean. Your pup will learn balance and of course, strengthen swimming skills by gently riding waves into shore.
Today, dog surf competitions around the globe require human participants to see the dogs out into the water, where they help the dogs catch a wave and release the board, so then dogs ride into shore by themselves.
Southern California is home to two Surf Dog Competitions, one occurring in July and the other in September. People come from all around the world to have their dogs compete in these events. Australia, another surf capital of the world, also loves its doggie surf contests.
Before you let your dog take to the water, there are certain things you must teach them. Follow this handy guide from Surf Dog Ricochet to properly teach your dog to surf!
Water Sports, Activities, and More!
Luckily, we don’t all have to be surfing experts to enjoy the benefits of water sports with our dogs! Participating in sports and activities in your free time strengthens the relationship between you and your dog. Additionally, it provides exercise and sunshine for all participants. What could be better?
In order to participate in any watersport, your dog must first learn how to swim. Fitdog offers a Swim Safety class where dogs can learn all the essential skills they need to become expert swimmers, which can open up a ton of avenues for fun this summer!
No ocean? No problem! You can teach your dog to boogie board in a lake, pond, or pool by first acclimating them to the surface of the board, and then gradually guiding them into and around the water. This is a great way to help your dog enjoy the water!
Dock diving is a popular competitive sport for a lot of dogs, but you don’t need to compete in order to let your dog enjoy the fun of diving! As long as your dog has enough space to run for a heads start, and water 5 feet or deeper they can splash and dive to their heart’s content. Many surfing dogs have learned they can also use their boards to jump into the water or retrieve objects.
Towing & Retrieval
This is an activity that combines retrieval with rescue skills. Traditionally, waterdogs have been trained to rescue people from bodies of water. You can appropriate this activity for a fun day in the sun by throwing your dog’s favorite (floatable) toy into the water and encouraging them to retrieve it like you would playing fetch. If you do want to teach your dog rescue skills, you can toss a buoy ring into the water and teach your dog to retrieve it.
With the warm summer months fast approaching, it’s important to make sure your dogs are well prepared for the heat. Swimming, surfing, and water sports, in general, are all great ways to stay cool and have fun with your dog. Of course, you’ve got to swim before you can surf! Brush up your dog’s swimming skills with a Swim Safety class, and make this summer a breeze.
Which water sports have you tried with your dog? Tell us in the comments below!