Kowabunga: Explaining The Wonder That Is Dog Surfing

Dog surfing! While some sports are debatable in their appeal, this isn’t one of them. Check your chest to make sure a human heart beats inside it if you don’t appreciate the wonder that is surfing pooches.

Seriously, who doesn’t crack a smile when seeing YouTube videos like this?

Interestingly, dog surfing isn’t some sort of GoPro era development. Dog surfing was first documented in the 1920s. Considering surfing didn’t really get started in any meaningful way in the United States until after 1910, that’s pretty significant. In other words, man couldn’t wait to get his best friend on the board with him.

Dog surfing on film was captured as early as the 1930s, Oz in the Waves in Waikiki. In the silent film, Philip K. Una and his dog, Night Hawk, surfed using a wooden board. It would be inappropriate not to mention Night Hawk’s skill as most dogs today surf on foam board which is much easier to grip.

Technically, the term “dog surfing” encompasses both dogs surfing solo and dogs surfing with humans. Additionally, both surfboards and bodyboards can be used. With the recent popularity of paddleboarding, we’ve seen a dearth of paddleboarding pooches, also.

In recent years, dog surfing competitions have become popular because, obviously, people like to watch dogs surf. With respect to picking a winner, the dog’s overall confidence on the board is a key factor for judges, as well as total ride length.

The Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition at Imperial Beach in California is the United States’ largest dog surfing competition. It was first held in 2006 and hundreds of dogs participate in the event.

Naturally, you’re probably wondering, “How can I get my dog on a surfboard?” Fear not. We have the answer.

The process of teaching a dog to surf is varied. However, the SUREfice Dog program suggests a step-by-step approach that looks like this.

Introduce the dog to the board. A foam board is best because it’s easiest for the dog to grip. Then you begin feeding your dog on the board, giving it treats, building positive associations. The next step is teaching your dog to sit/stay on the board when you walk away. Move your dog on the board: Grab some friends and carry the dog around on the board so it gets used to experiencing motion while on a surfboard.

After getting your dog comfortable on the board (and in a life jacket), you try to get the dog to stand on the board in a still body of water (pool, pond, etc). Finally, take your pup to the waves. Get the dog on the board in shallow water and then gradually move further out…the mutt will be surfing in no time (supposedly).

There you have it. Now Fido is on his way to becoming the next surf dog champion of the world. And no, there’s no word on whether the Surf Dog Competition plans to add a cat division.

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