The sun-soaked and famously relaxed sport of surfing looks easy, but it actually requires balance, strength, and – in competition – a lot of style. And it’s the same for dog surfing.
If you’re near the ocean, and your dog is a big fan of the water, the Surf Dog Competition might be the sport for you.
During the Surf Dog Competition at the Incredible Dog Challenge the life-jacket wearing surfing dog and his owner enter the water and paddle out on the dog’s surf board. They have 10 minutes to catch as many waves as they want. Their rides are scored by three judges on the following categories:
- Length of the ride
- Size of the wave
- Incredible style
Some surf dogs go for the bigger waves while others perform special tricks aboard their board like 360° spins to earn their style points.
WHAT YOU NEED
The elements of the Surf Dog Competition are:
- A dog that has strong swimming skills and good balance, and loves the water
- A foam or foam and fiberglass surf board
- A life vest for your dog
- Rash guard or athletic shirt that protects against rashes caused by abrasion, for you
- Clean water with waves of a safe height for you and your dog
HOW TO TRAIN
If you have access to a beach with surf, you can get started with dog surfing.
The most important part of surfing with your dog is safety. Your dog should be a good swimmer with the ability to balance on the board – you want your dog to be comfortable and have fun in the water. Additionally, a life vest will help make sure that if your dog ends up in the water, he stays afloat where you can see him. Never tie or tether your dog to the board; it’s important that he be able to get away from the board if he loses his balance.
A great way to get started training your dog to surf is to help him learn to balance on a surf board in still water, like a lake, pond, or pool. Once he’s mastered that skill, try helping him get on the surfboard on a day with the smallest possible waves, and see how he does when the water is moving. If he’s comfortable on moving water, he might be ready to try surfing. Make sure he’s balanced on the board, with sure footing. Holding the back of the board, run through the water until the board is “catching” a small wave – then, let go of the board and let your dog “ride” the wave on his own, making sure to keep an eye on him the whole time.
Finally, give your dog the chance to surf on bigger waves – but, to keep him safe make sure the waves are not bigger than 3 feet. If in doubt, stay on the beach that day and try out flying disc instead.
- Find a club: There are clubs and dog gyms all over the country with facilities and knowledgeable staff. Just do a quick search online to locate one nearest you.
- Network: Another great place to begin is by networking through your local breed-affiliated club.
Remember that dog surfing should be fun for you and your dog. While your dog may or may not be the most stylish surfer on the beach, he might have potential you’ve never discovered before. And, at the very least, you’ll be spending quality time together full of sun, sea, and sand.
Before getting started, remember that you should always consult your veterinarian to ensure your dog is fit for exercise. And make sure to fuel your incredible dog with advanced nutrition that will help them be their best. Find your dog’s formula.