Surf Up!: Hounds Ride Waves at Annual Competition

The World Surf Dog Competition will return to the Bay Area August 5, bringing with it a sea of hounds who can hang ten and a few who will wipeout.  

The competition, hosted by TasteTV, is open to amateurs looking to ride the waves with some of the world’s top dog surfers.

Last year’s winner, Abbie, traveled from Southern California to compete, but owner Michael Uy said it was actually a home reunion.

The Australian Kelpie was adopted from the Humane Society of Silicon Valley after being rescued from the side of a road. 

Uy said he would take Abbie to the beach as part of her rehabilitation. He soon discovered Abbie could ride a wave by herself while he was out surfing one day.

The talented pooch has since gone on to become a decorated “surf dog” and holds the Guinness world record for longest wave surfed by a canine.

More surfers are opting to take their four-legged friend out on the waves with them. However, if your dog does not take to a surfboard immediately, there is still hope.

The Surf Dog Series released tips for getting your dogs ready to head out on the water and a decorated surf dog, Ricochet, hosts a home training schedule online:

Here are some of their tips you can use to get your dog stoked for surfing:

  1. Swim Before You Surf: “Make sure your dog can swim!” Uy said. Even his world record-holding dog Abbie falls off the board. Uy emphasized making sure conditions are safe and your dog can handle the wave.
  2. Safety First: Uy outfits his dog in a wet suit designed just for Abbie. But Judy Fridono, a dog trainer and owner to famous surfer dog Ricochet, said most people looking to surf with their dogs “are folks who go out a few times a summer.” Most active surfer dogs have at least a doggy life jacket on during the ride.
  3. Don’t Force It: Many owners can sense if they’re dog is having fun or not. Trainer Fridono emphasized the biggest rule for her is: “If they really don’t want to surf, then find something else you both enjoy.” While some dogs surf on their first time out on the water like Abbie, others take a bit longer to learn so patience and baby steps may be required.
  4. Train at Home Practice makes perfect! “Getting your dog to surf really depends on each individual dog,” Fridono said. However, she does suggest putting away the surfboard when you’re not training so your dog gets excited each time.
  5. Food and Treats By serving treats and meal time on the surfboard, the trainer said you reinforce your behavior of your dog being on the board, rather than getting off it.
  6. Distraction Training: “Many dogs are very distracted by everything else going on, so they tend to jump off the board to play, go after a ball, sniff another dog …” The trainer said to complete basic distraction trainers to get your dog ready for crowded beaches.
  7. Use Verbal Cues: “Use a word to release your dog from being on the board, such as ‘release.'” Many dogs surf backward so they can keep an eye on their owner. The trainer suggests using a word to help your dog learn that they should stay on the board even when you’re behind them.
  8. Say Cheese: Your dog has a special talent and people will take notice! Prep your dog for the social media fame that may follow.
  9. Have fun! Each trainer and owner emphasized that the biggest part of surfing with dogs is to spend more time with the dog. Make sure it is fun for you and your furry friend!

The second annual World Dog Surfing Championships is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on August 5 at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica.

Photo Credit: Michael Uy/Go Pro

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