How to Teach Your Dog to Surf

Surfing with your dog can be great fun and rewarding for both you and your dog! If you're keen to get your dog surfing with you, this article will help you to get him comfortable with the waves and surfing in no time!


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    Make sure you have a dog surfboard. Your dog's paws can be harmed if he is not using the right board. Foam boards are bad for dogs as it tears their skin after a few uses. Your dog may chew on a foam board, and foam boards have no traction, so they use wax, which is terrible for a dog's paws as sand and debris get in the webs of your dog's paws and could be harmful. Make sure you get a "dog surfboard". The hard surface dog surfboards are great and come with many safety features such as a standard ocean rescue safety release handle on the tail for choosing the right waves or hanging on for the ride. They also come with Soft Traction throughout the board, which provides not just traction but also serves as a cushion in case of a wipe out! The hard Dog Surfboards, are great because you can design your own colors, logo's, pics of dog or any artwork you can think of! They are totally customized for your dog, which you can't get with any soft board. Harder top boards float much better and do not fold or bend nor crease. Soft boards are a little less stable and slippery which causes the dog to move forward on the board thus causing the surfboard to nose dive.
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    Many surf dog contest are on budgets and usually use old donor boards which is not really all that good for you or the dog. Ask your local surf shop for a "Dog Surfboard" not a giant foam board, a real authentic Dog Surfboard, or Google Dog Surfboards, and Dog Wetsuits, something will pop up!
    • 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 Travel Pet Bed for the beach!
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    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.
    • Make sure you know how to surf. It won't make much sense to your dog if you're not sharing the experience and know what to do too!
    • This sport involves a lot of exertion in the water, and the waves can be rough, so be sure that you and your dog are both strong swimmers before attempting to surf.
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    Demonstrate by example and get your dog excited about being in the water with you 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.
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    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, unless you use a hard top dog surfboard with traction such as "Scrappy" below in the picture.
    • If your dog is too far back, the nose will come out of the water and the board won't catch the wave.
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    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.
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    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.
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    Catch the wave. Start with small waves, roughly 1–2 feet (0.3–0.6 m) (30cm - 60cm). Even champion surfing dogs don't tackle surf much bigger than 3–4 feet (0.91–1.2 m) (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.
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    • Now your dog and you are surfing! Bow Wow Bunga, dude!


  • Try the pet, rafting, or boating sections to find a dog PFD.
  • 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.


  • Surfboards have been known to cause a bruise or two when they're bobbing around in the waves, so be careful.
  • Only take your dog to a beach that allows dogs. Check the local ordinances first.
  • 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

    • Dog
  • 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
  • Dog Wetsuits

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Dog Obedience