Ruffwear ambassadors Maria, Riley and Kona are preparing for a busy summer of teaching SUP With Your PUP courses – starting the season off this weekend, Maria will be joining us at the Dominion Riverrock outdoor sports and music festival in Richmond, VA! If you are anywhere near Richmond, be sure to bring your dog and join us for a great weekend of Stand Up Paddling, Trail Running, biking and much more. Maria wrote in to let us know how last year’s courses went and what’s in store for this summer.


Last summer Riley and I developed a 5-week course with Black Dog Paddle to teach dogs and their humans how to ride together on a paddleboard. The course starts off with basic SUP skills for people. For 2 weeks the focus is on balance, and what to expect when paddling with a dog on board. By the third week we are ready to introduce the dogs to the boards. We rent space at a local training facility and introduce the dogs to the boards in a controlled environment with minimal distractions. During our land session we make sure the dogs fall in love with the boards. We have a blast playing on them, sitting on them, and eating yummy Zuke’s on them. It’s the dog’s first impression of a paddleboard so we make it memorable! The following week we hit the water and gradually work from sitting on the boards to standing with the dogs. Some dogs are naturals and take to paddling easily, while others are more hesitant. We never force the dogs on the boards or pressure them; we just work at each dog’s pace. All the dogs we’ve taught so far have successful graduated and are known as official SUP PUPs!

These classes may very well be one of the most rewarding adventures Riley and I have ventured into yet. Seeing other human pup duos bonding and falling in love with the sport has made us smile for days. All of our student teams have very special relationships coming into the class. But what Riley and I know is that after they learn to SUP together, their bond will be just a little bit tighter.


This summer me, Riley and Kona will continue teaching SUP PUP classes in central Virginia. We’ll be offering the 5-week class for anyone who is new to the sport, and a 2-day weekend class for the more seasoned paddler who wants to learn how to train their dog. Click HERE to learn more about our classes.

We will also be at Dominion’s RiverRock in Richmond on May 15-17 giving demonstrations and advice for anyone looking to share SUP with their PUPs.

See you on the water!

Maria, Riley & Kona

3 thoughts

  1. I have been taking my dogs to an indoor swimming pool to learn the ropes, and they love it. We plan on going camping soon and hopefully swimming in the lake with them (or canoeing or kayaking soon!), but I’m worried about introducing distractions in the water they’ve never had before. One of my dogs has an insatiable prey drive as well. What kind of leash/lead would you recommend so that I can reel them in if they start to take off? I need something durable since it would be wet the whole time, but lightweight so that it doesn’t affect them while they’re swimming.

    1. Hi Dana. Thanks for writing to us. We are hesitant to recommend a leash for swimming as we typically recommend not using a leash for swimming. Leashes can get caught on branches or other obstacles in the water, creating a safety hazard. If you are going to use a leash while swimming, we recommend to really scout out the area that you will be swimming to make sure it is free of obstacles or hazards that the leash can get caught up in. One leash that is light but strong is our small Knot-A-Leash –

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