Summer safety tips for surfing dogs!

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Summer at dog-friendly beaches also signals the return of dog surf classes and competitions… more specifically, Helen Woodward Center’s 13th Annual “Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon,” scheduled for Sunday, September 9th. If you’ve ever thought your pup might be looking “totally pawsome” on a surf board, but didn’t know if he’d take to it, here are some important safety tips to keep in mind!


• Only surf a dog who LOVES the water. If your dog displays a fear towards the ocean and/or waves, this is not the sport for your pup.
• Enroll in lessons. There are on-line videos to teach your dog to surf, but learning from professionals is the very best way to introduce your dog to the sport and to make sure you have the proper safety gear. Helen Woodward Animal Center offers Dog Surf Classes every summer taught by the legendary SoCal Surf Dogs who have perfected the techniques! There are two remaining classes – August 12th and August 26th. The cost is $45 and includes all the proper gear. PLUS, all funds go to the orphan pets and programs at Helen Woodward Animal Center.
• Make sure your pooch is wearing a life vest. A life vest is a must and dog surf-vests are available in all sizes and colors!!! Wearing a life vest is mandatory at all reputable surf dog competitions and the same rule should apply anytime your dog gets on a board.
• Make sure your dog is learning on a soft foam board. Remember that dogs, just like people, can fall off their boards and you don’t want your pup in danger when a hard board is on the loose!
• Do not tie the leash of the board to your dog. Your dog should have the choice of whether to stay on, or jump off, of his board if he feels in danger. Leashing the board to the dog will make it feel restrained and cause panic.
• This is a team sport. The main reason dogs love to surf is because they get to do it with their owners! This is not a sport you should send your dog out to do with someone he doesn’t know. Helen Woodward Animal Center surf classes require that the owner is in the water with the dog. Teachers are there to assist, but your dog is listening to your commands and is comforted and happy when he knows you’re along for the adventure!
• Keep it shallow. Dogs should not be in water deeper than you are able to comfortably stand or wade. Ideally, beginning dogs should never be in water deeper than your waist. Let them take the easy waves in and enjoy the ride.
• SUP it up! If your dog loves the water but spends his happiest times kicking back in the slow lane, why not trying Stand Up Paddle Boarding instead? The sport provides plenty of human/dog bonding moments without the required athleticism (at least from your dog).
• Follow all the rules of beach and hot weather safety!

Categories: Good Morning San Diego