Paws on Boards - Doggy Surfing
Bringing Doggy Surfing to Saunton Beach!
Dog Surfing involves dogs that are trained to surf on surfboards or body boards, either alone or with a human, ride skim boards after they have initially been skimmed by a human, windsurf with a human, or ride paddle boards with a human. Historically, surfing dogs have been documented as occurring as early as the 1920’s in the United States. Competitions and exhibitions that feature surfing dogs have occurred in various coastal areas on the United States such as in California and Florida and also in Australia. In dog surfing competitions, judging criteria may include the dog's overall certainty on the board, wave size and ride length. Tandem surfing involves two or more dogs surfing together on one surfboard, or a dog surfing with a human. This amazing canine sport is relatively unknown in the U.K., but we hope to change this over the coming years, by holding an annual dog surfing competition every year on Saunton Beach, at DHK’ Paws on the Beach Event.
Please note that it will not be possible to have a go at doggy surfing on the day. This is because dogs taking part need special training to take part in this sport and the welfare and happiness of all dogs taking part is paramount importance. Read our full code of conduct for doggy surfers here.
We would like to say a huge thank you to our official sponsors Saltrock for supporting our 'Paws on Boards' Dog Surf School! We would also like to thank Andy Casey Photography for volunteering to photograph our amazing dog surfers at Paws on the Beach 2017.
‘Paws on Boards’ – The UK’s First Dog Surfing School
Dogs Helping Kids have joined forces with Hoops and Hounds Dog training to form the U.K’s first ever Dog Surfing School, aptly called ‘Paws on Boards’. We wanted to introduce this canine sport into the country with the welfare and safety of each surfing dog at its core. Due to this fact not only will the dogs be trained to ride the surf safely using only positive, force free dog training, but their owners will be taught how to understand the body language of a dog, how to read stress in dogs, and also be taught some basic surfing education by well known surf professionals.
In January of this year we held interviews to look for 5 awesome dogs and their owners to make up the first ever trainee dog surfing teams. During February to May we will be carefully training these 5 dogs to learn how to ride a surf board and take to the waves. Come down to the sea on Saunton Beach at 4pm during Paws on the Beach where these dogs and their owners will be at the water’s edge, demonstrating how they have learnt to surf and hopefully catch a few waves – get the camera ready and be inspired!!
Kelvin & Paddy - Collie X Spaniel
Favourite Beach: Crow Point
Favourite Food: Everything, the smellier the better
Favourite Activity: Chasing balls and swimming. He does love to swim in the taw whilst I walk on the cycle path.
Pet Peeves: Black Labradors
Describe the journey that led you to learning to surf: Seeing last years surfing dogs at Paws on the Beach and having, myself, taken up surfing this year, I wanted a four footed buddy to join me.
How is training going?: Training is going great guns! Paddy is very enthusiastic when it comes to training despite his, often, hang dog expression. Treats soon perk him up and he’s back to being crazy.
Lindsey & Glen - Collie X Huntaway
Favourite Beach: Instow
Favourite Food: Ginger biscuits
Top Trick: Vanishing act
Favourite Activity: Running/chasing
Pet Peeves: He’s pretty laid back and confident, however, is not keen on wearing coats etc
Describe the journey that led you to learning to surf: I joined Michelle’s trick class to give Glen more mental stimulation, as his mind seems to work at 100 miles per minute! He is very bright and bores easily so I am constantly looking for new ways to entertain him. When surfing was suggested I thought it would be a fun thing for Glen and I to do together.
How is training going? Glen is great in class and gets on the surfboard as soon as he sees it (he has a habit of getting on the surfboard of the dog next to us too…). He is good at balancing and his stand stays are coming along, however he is wary of the life jacket, which I am trying to condition him to.
Jacqui & Willow - Collie X Boxer
Favourite Beach: Instow
Favourite Food: Bones and liver
Top Trick: She can read, plus she is also a DHK School Dog
Favourite Activity: Haring about on the beach, racing around and playing chase with all her friends
Pet Peeves: Willow really is such a happy and confident dog I genuinely can't think of anything that bothers her very much at all
Describe the journey that led you to learning to surf: Willow loves the sea, she is never happier than when she's mucking about in the water, even in the depths of winter she'll be prancing about in the waves. And since most of her family are all surfers it seemed only natural that at some point she should join in with them.
How is training going? At the start she was a bit suspicious of the big new bight red board she was given but once she knew there were plenty of treats involved she soon overcame her fears. We aren't in the water yet, but once we are I think she's going to be pretty excited about having a whole new fantastic game to play.
Natasha, Anthony & Mia - Siberian Husky
Age: 17 months
Favourite Beach: Westward Ho! Or Instow ... anywhere there are doggies
Favourite Food: carrots and cheese
Top Trick: speak (howling on cue)
Favourite Activity: Doing tricks and running as fast as I can (sometimes I think I can fly)
Pet Peeves: as a husky Mia sheds a lot (an awful lot!) but would much rather keep all of her fur and can't understand why we keep brushing it out... She tells us by constantly wooing that she would rather not give up her fur for the birds to make nests with!
Describe the journey that led you to learning to surf: Mia is a very intelligent dog and I love participating in new ways of challenging her mind and body. She has so much energy and is willing to try anything. She loves the water and we were given the opportunity to try out for the surf classes after completing her level 2 trick dog title.
How is training going? Well so far, Mia is doing well and is now used to wearing her life jacket and is getting used to standing on the board with a little wobble.
Nix & Skip - Border Terrier
Age: 17 months
Favourite Beach: Instow
Favourite Food: Dehydrated heart or anything Natasha has to offer...
Top Trick: Skate Boarding
Favourite Activity: "zoomies" running back and forth as fast as he possibly can whilst taking a flowerpot with him
Pet Peeves: 1 that other dogs won't chase him and 2 that his cat sister doesn't want to play with him
Describe the journey that led you to learning to surf: I help out Michelle with the trick training at hoops and hounds so it kind of all fell into place as he was already learning to skateboard we thought why not extend that to the waves. He loves learning new things so why not give it a go
How is training going? I'd say 50/50 he has no fear what so ever so that goes in his favour and he also doesn't care about wearing his lifejacket but then he's by far the worst for staying in one place in a stand to much of a fidgety teenager
In 2016 Paws on the Beach introduced the UK to the amazing sport of Canine Surfing. Fabulous amateur surfing dogs and their owners provided a demonstration of doggy surfing to the large crowd who gathered at the waters edge on Saunton Beach during the afternoon. Mango from Newquay and Tally from Dorset proudly showed with their owners how enjoyable doggy surfing can be.
Meet our 2016 surfers...
Mango & Matt
Mango is a seven year old working labrador retriever. Both of her parents are from Devon and come from long lines of field trial champions. Matt is a marine biologist from Cornwall who works for the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and he is also a qualified beach lifeguard and dive leader.
Mango is an incredibly loyal dog who follows Matt everywhere and one day when Matt was surfing Mango just decided to swim out through the waves and join in. So he put her on his board and after watching her surf back in to the beach that was when he realised he had a surfing dog!
Photograph courtesy of Sam Buckle
The board they ride together is an eight foot soft top longboard which is what surf schools use for beginners because they float really well and if they hit you they don't hurt. Plus the soft foam coating lets Mango get a good grip with her claws and means that she stays on even when they paddle out through quite big waves!
And of course any time they go down to the beach together Matt is extremely careful to study the weather and surf conditions to make sure that it is totally safe to go in. But, Matt says even if they have a wipeout Mango will not swim back in to the beach but will swim back to Matt and get straight back up on the board. Why not find out more about this incredible team by visiting their blog- www.mangothesurfingdog.blogspot.co.uk
Photograph courtesy of Sam Buckle
Tally Ho & Sally
On most days throughout the summer and also on crisp winter days Sally and Tally can be found out on the sea enjoying the stunning Jurassic Coast. Based in West Bay Sally says there are more choppy waters than Surf! (For decent surf a trip to Devon is in order...) Despite that they still have immense fun catching the wake from passing fishing boats.
Tally always gets very excited when she see's Sally getting her wet suit out and loading the board into the van. A typical Jack Russell Terrier, Tally is a bit of a character and can be crotchety at times - but she always loves the beach. If she see's the sea she starts to whine and gets very excited. (Even if she can't actually see the sea, if she is close to water, she can sense it!)
A few years ago for her 50th Sally treated herself to a paddleboard and added a patch of rubber deck grip to the front for Tally to stand on. Tally manages to stay on through even the bigger waves - even when Sally falls off! She rarely jumps off, unless she see's another dog walker throwing a ball into the sea that is, then she can't resist leaping into the waves.
Tally really doesn't mind who's board she is on, as long as they are going out to sea that's all that matters... Whenever on a boat together, big or small, Tally always likes to be right at the front of the bow, a doggy figure head of sorts!
Janis & Bailey
Being a surf instructor, Janis can think of no better way to enjoy an afternoon than by taking both her dog and surfboard to the beach to have fun. Bailey, her Hungarian Vizsla is nearly 7 years old (it will be his birthday on the 21st May!) and is Janis' best friend. Along with Janis and her other vizsla, Amber, he spends a lot of time enjoying the beautiful local beaches. What better company to have when exploring! Surfing is a lot of fun and also helps to keep the dogs cool throughout the summer. Bailey has been surfing for the last couple of years, but his safety is really important so only when the sun shines and the surf is safe and small!
We would like to say a huge thank you to Andy Casey Photography for volunteering to photograph our amazing dog surfers at Paws on the Beach 2016 and also to Finisterre for supporting our first ever doggy surfing event with lots of fabulous prizes!