Dog standing by the water

Important dog safety commands before hitting the waves!

A typical day at the dog park may not be the same as a day spent on the water with your dog. To ensure that you both have the best on-water day possible, planning ahead is key. Check out our article The best watersports for you and your dog this summer!  for more tips on how to prepare.

Before hitting the water, it’s important to ensure that your dog is well-trained in obedience and voice commands. These skills are crucial in helping your dog stay in your kayak or keep stable on your paddleboard. If your dog can follow commands such as sitting, lying down and other commands, you’re likely to have a more enjoyable time on the water.

There are several important commands that you should teach your furry friend before heading out on the water. These include:

1. Leave it for scavenging dogs.

2. “Stop”, “Sit” or “Down” for emergency situations.

3. “Up” and “Down” for getting on the boat or paddleboard.

1. “Leave it!”

Mastering the “Leave it” command is crucial to keep your furry friend from getting too excited and chasing after ducks, fish or other boats while on the water. However, even when on shore, there may be plenty of distractions that can make it challenging for your dog to stay calm. Therefore, it’s essential to have a clear command that lets your dog know when it’s safe to jump into the water.


How to teach your dog the “leave it” command

Teaching the “Leave it” command can be done in a few easy steps. Begin by holding a treat in a closed hand and allowing your dog to sniff it. Don’t let it have the treat if it turns or looks away. When it looks back on you, you should give it the treat and repeat the process until your dog learns to ignore distractions. This way, your dog learns that ignoring the good thing leads to another good thing. Repeat this process several times.



Wet dog standing on a rock and waiting for a command

As your dog turns away, label the behaviour as “leave it” and reward it with a treat. You can then progress to holding the treat in an open hand or leaving it on the floor. These progressions reinforce the command in your dog’s mind, making it easier to control its behaviour when it shows interest in something in the water or onshore.

2. Train your dog to “stop” for emergencies

Training your dog to the “stop” command is crucial in case of emergencies – especially when you need your furry friend to respond quickly. This command helps prevent your dog from jumping into the water or going after exciting things and remain in the sitting position until you give the next command.

How to teach your dog the “stop” command

Call your dog’s name and encourage it to come towards you. As your dog approaches, throw treats behind it, causing it to stop and eat the treats. As your dog stops and eats the treats, label the behaviour as “stop”. Repeat this process until your dog can stop on command and then receive the treat.

Dog running into the water after hearing a command

3. Train your dog to jump on and off the boat or paddleboard

Training your dog to jump on and off a stand-up paddleboard or boat is crucial for ensuring its safety and your ability to control the situation. By teaching your furry friend these commands, you’ll be able to keep it safe and avoid potential accidents or mishaps while out on the water.

How to teach your dog the “up” and “down” commands

Introduce your dog to the board or boat by letting it sniff and explore it while on dry land. Encourage it to approach the board or boat and reward it with treats for positive behaviour.

Next, get your dog to jump onto the board or boat while on dry land or in shallow water. Use a command like “up” or “down” and give it a treat as a reward for its successful leap. Once your dog is comfortable jumping onto the board or boat, try getting it to jump off. Again, use a command like “down” and offer a treat when it complies.

  Human and a dog paddle boarding


Gradually increase the height of the board or boat by placing it on something like a low dock or step stool. Repeat the process of getting your dog to jump on and off, using the appropriate commands and rewarding it for its efforts.

Finally, when your dog is comfortable jumping on and off the board or boat from a height, you can take it out onto the water. Remember to keep your dog safe by using a life jacket and keeping a close eye on it at all times.

With consistent training and positive reinforcement, your dog will soon be an expert at jumping on and off the water transport, making your time on the water even more enjoyable.


Training a dog to obey commands in places with distractions is essential to ensure that your furry friend can respond appropriately in a range of situations. One way to initiate the training process is by practising on solid ground, progressing to a bridge and eventually transitioning to a boat.

You can also add “sit” or “down” commands to this training but make sure to train them separately before combining them.

Now that you have taught your dog the essential commands, you can head out for an enjoyable day on the water. For more water safety and boating tips with dogs, check out our article about Water safety and boating with dogs.

Family with a dog is on a boat having a good time


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