I was on the outdoor store’s website when I saw it. There was a SUP with your pup class and all that was required was to bring your well-behaved dog and their vaccinations. In an hour and a half they would have you on the water.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I am all about having a good time with my dogs. But here is the big question-IS IT FUN FOR THE DOG OR IS IT SCARY? This is a question that even we as the most enthusiastic owners need to ask before attempting any activity or it’s just not fair. Also if you REALLY WANT TO SUCCEED AND BUILD DRIVE so that your dog loves to do this with you, take your time. Trying new activities with your dog can be a real thrill. We just need to make sure they have the physical capability and mental attitude required to feel comfortable attempting this new activity.
If your dog has never been in the water it’s probably best to get them accustomed to a life jacket and then gradually expose them to swimming in a safe and force-free environment. I like getting in the water with them and encouraging them with toys, treats and praise. Once they are comfortable if the task involves movement and balance I would introduce the kayak or SUP on dry land while on foam blocks and practice teaching the dog to enter and stay in place reinforcing with treats and praise. This can take not just hours but days or even weeks. The next step is teaching the dog to ignore distractions such as birds and animals.
IT ISN’T FUN WHEN THEY GET TIRED and it’s often hard for owners to stop an activity. Sometimes we get so excited to continue what we enjoy that we forget about how the dog may feel about it. Even the most friendly of dogs may get tired of those therapy visits. I recently read of a school system that was rotating therapy dogs all day long in their classrooms. Dogs unlike school equipment need a break and sometimes have off days. They may not be up to it and this can lead to stress and all that comes with it.
GO WITH THE FLOW and enjoy those special moments with your dog but keep in mind that his way of telling you that it’s time for a break may be less obvious but important for his well being.
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