Easy step by step plan to get your best friend on board with you

Paddleboarding with your Best Friend

SUP with your Pup

So, you have been enjoying your time on the river with your standup paddle (SUP) board.  You have gotten over the wobble of finding your balance and are now well acquainted with your equipment.  You have discovered several beautiful places that you would like to share with others.  The time paddling has been refreshing, peaceful and fun but on certain days it just seems to be missing something.  Why not try bringing your dog along on your paddle board outings?  There is much joy, satisfaction and adventure waiting for you this year on a SUP with your pup! 

There are so many great places along the slow-moving river systems and National Wildlife Refuges that are perfect to share with your dog. One place in particular I have found to be perfect for a day out with the dogs (and people of course) is the Waccamaw River.  The beauty of the blackwater along with the peaceful meanderings of this mellow river as it fills in the gaps between the knees of the Cypress is captivating. There are plenty of branches, lakes and loops off the main river that will allow for all kinds of adventures.  If your dog already enjoys going along, then going with you on your paddle board on the Waccamaw is just the excursion you need to try.

It is best to make this a fun process for your dog with lots of games and rewards and the Conway Riverwalk Area provides ample space and opportunity to do this.  There are a few options for launching which makes this ideal for trying SUP with your pup.  There are public floating docks, soft launch, and even a marina.  There is also a new launch under construction that will provide a sandy launch area with a pavilion and other amenities when it is complete. Paddling with your pup will feel natural in no time and the Blue Trail marked along this portion of the Waccamaw will be the perfect map to fun times together. 

Follow along to learn more about paddle boarding with your dog.


Safety Notes

  1. Make sure your dog knows how to swim.  Test him in a safe environment where you can touch the bottom and hold him up if needed.  If your dog is not physically active and does not enjoy a water environment, you may want to reconsider.
  2. Make sure your dog obeys basic commands on and off leash.  Sit, stay, lay down, come.  These are all important commands to know when you are paddle boarding with your dog.
  3. Find a Canine floatation device that works for your dog.  A handle on the back is a helpful tool to assist the dog up on to the paddle board when you are already on board.

Be sure the board you use has a volume that will carry the weight of you, your dog, and any equipment you plan to bring along. Check your board brand website for details on maximum volume.


TJ takes the nose as he enjoys paddle boarding with his owner wearing his canine flotation device.  TJ is a veteran SUP Pup and enjoys the lakes and rivers of SC. Photo Credit: Jennifer Graham

How do I get my dog to like the paddle board?

A dog on a paddle board with you.  This is not a natural thing for either of you.   Make sure you take the time to get acquainted.  Know your board and limitations.  Know your dog and his limitations.  You can absolutely teach an old dog new tricks.  Take your time and your reward will be a dog that loves to paddle down the river as much as you do.  

All along the way, you are going to want to go ahead and get your dog used to the flotation device as well.  It is fine to put the device on before going out for a fun walk.  Just like when you grab the leash and your dog perks up because he knows a leash in your hand means fun walk outside with you this will give your dog a clue that you are about to go do something enjoyable and that flotation device is part of the fun!



If treats motivate your dog, this is probably going to be easy!  Stay focused but be flexible.  Keep your eye on the goal, but don’t keep trying the same thing over and over if it just isn’t working.  Use variations of the steps below to cater specifically to your dog.

Start by putting your board in a location that your dog walks by it several times per day.  The more he sees it, the more familiar it will become. 

After it seems like the paddle board is invisible to him, place it next to the dog’s bed or favorite resting area.  Sit on it while your dog is near.  Make it seem like a normal piece of furniture. 

Another day or so later lay the board flat on the floor and place a treat on it.  Gently reward the dog with praise when he takes the treat.  Good boy!

Next, stand or sit on the board and invite the dog to sit with you. Offer the treat and praise when your dog is successful.

Repeat any of these steps as many times as needed to get your dog comfortable with the board and being on the board.  Some dogs accomplish all of this in an hour, some dogs it will take a few days.  Take your time because moving forward too fast can make it harder or even impossible!

Take the board outside.  Repeat any of the steps needed that allow your dog to accept the board in this new environment.

And now you have done great prep work and your dog is ready to head to the water.  He knows how to swim, is use to his flotation device is comfortable with your paddle board, and is excited about going with you!  You have it all covered so far so pack a snack bag with water and treats and go launch!

Selecting a good launch area for your first SUP pup sessions

Once you accomplish acceptance of the board, you are ready to hit the water!  This is an exciting day and you are no doubt going to be quite gun ho over the whole thing.  Your dog will sense your excitement and be thrilled to be out on an adventure. Remember, you want your dog to be focused on you so a pre-paddle run or full on play session would be a great precursor to the SUP session. The more relaxed and focused your dog can be, the better.   I always suggest making the trip as “normal” as possible.  A successful first session starts with a relaxed dog and a great launch area.  


So, walk around the area first before unloading your board.  Take time to let the dog recognize your board in this new place.  Offer assurance and rewards for any hint of curiosity or acceptance of the activity.

I love to launch my paddle board sessions out of Conway at the Riverwalk area.  This location is relatively quiet especially on weekdays and I can give the dogs time to walk around, sniff, run and relax.  There is not much boat activity either which is really helpful on your first few outings.  The Kingston Lake area is very calm with little current which is great for a quick swim and refreshment. Once you paddle under a railroad tressel or two, there are virtually no motorized vehicles to be found. This place is so beautiful and quiet.  Great for the beginner paddler this area is part of the Blue Trails System and well marked with signs and information.  You can take your dog on a nice paddle through the history of Kingston (now Conway) and the river that played a major role in the growth and development of this area. 

(Maps are available from www.bluetrailsguide.org/rivers/waccamaw/)

 Look for these qualities when selecting the place for your first outing

  • Open area for pre paddling exercise
  • Quiet with low traffic – having fewer distractions is going to be a big plus when first getting started
  • Slow moving flat water with a gentle entry option like sand or smooth stones
  • No motorized boats or water vehicles – the noise and wake from these things will be very stressful to most dogs
  • Familiar place to your dog so they are easy and confident with the location before adding a new activity

Shallow water where you can walk beside the board will help with the first session.  If you can find a sandy bottom area about 3 feet deep that would be perfect!  Seeing eye to eye with your dog will put you close so he feels confident. Just find the best you can, even a pool works if you have access.

Have those treats handy for rewarding your dog while he is on the paddle board!  Positive reinforcement is the key.  Bonding and connecting the board with rewards is going to be important when launching in different places and situations. 




You have done it!  You and your dog are now confident and able to go on the river together on your paddle board and enjoy time together in a beautiful setting. 


Betty had a great first paddling experience.  She learned everything in one afternoon! 

This is going to be a fun season ahead having her on board with me! Peace, Paddles & Dogs!



Have fun and then invite some friends!                          

After the first few sessions and a little practice getting on and off the board together, you are primed for many hours of SUP adventures with your dog.  Take short trips close to the shore line for your first few outings.  Build up distance and length of sessions over time.  Once you are both comfortable, the possibilities are endless and so is the joy and satisfaction of having your furry best friend along for the ride on the water ways.  Many people never try because they think they can’t teach their dog to stand up paddleboard but there is no big secret, just perseverance and reward!  

Seasonal Events such as this Costume Paddle Board Race on the Ashley River are a great way to meet other people who SUP with their dog. Photo Credit: Cate Sutz

My friend Robin and her Bull Dog Pippa photographed by Boss Hoss Photography

Other Helpful Tips:

For longer trips remember to bring water to drink and a snack for both of you.  You can even start a group that can meet regularly and paddle the rivers together. 

You can add a traction pad to the nose of your board or where ever your dog finds to be most comfortable.

Larger boards will provide greater stability.  Check the volume of your board before attempting to add a large dog to your SUP adventures. 

Be sure your dog is wearing his collar and identification tags.  If he accidently gets separated from you in the wilderness, anyone will be able to find you and get him home. 

Make sure your dog is healthy and up to date on vaccines as some stagnant waters can contain bacteria that may make your dog feel ill if ingested.

If you don’t feel confident or would like a group setting for your SUP pup training, there are many reputable programs that will work with you and your dog on learning to SUP.

Unless otherwise noted: All photography provided by Grace Sutz Photography / A student photographer and artist at The Academy of Art, Science and Technology in Myrtle Beach, SC (gracesutz@gmail.com


Cate Sutz –

Cate, her husband and their 3 teenagers are the owners of Island Inspired Board Company located between the Inter Coastal Waterway and The Waccamaw River in Conway, South Carolina.  They have also owned and operated Dog Boarding of Myrtle Beach for the past 7 years ( www.dogboardingofmyrtlebeach.com ).  Cate is always looking for creative ways to combine her love of animals, paddle boarding, and people.  Teaching people how to SUP and SUP with their pups just comes naturally. 

You can find her most often paddling with groups of new friends along the Waccamaw River in the Conway area or handling operations at either business. Island Inspired Boards are hand made in Conway and sold in many places along the east coast and online at www.islandinspired.com .

A version of this blog can be found on American Rivers website and other places of interest around the webuniverse.   (www.americanrivers.org)





Adaptive Surfers Get Us Inspired

Adaptive Surfing 

Inspiring Us To Do More

So much has been happening in the world of Adaptive Surfing!  World Championships and National Championships!  This past year we had two amazing surfers riding Island Inspired Board Company custom adaptive surf boards in these contests.  In November we had five amazing athletes on our boards in the Adaptive Divisions and we ROCKED the Atlantic Surfing Federation Championships with team work, style, and grace.  These athletes are doing an amazing job at representing our brand and our philosophy of living inspired and inspiring others to do more and be involved!  

Brock Johnson riding a nice wave in La Jolla, California at Worlds last year.


Ernie Johnson riding one of his first waves at a Wheel to Surf Event held in Myrtle Beach, SC.  

Terrell Rawson after riding one of the biggest waves of his life in the Adaptive Tandem Finals at Sebastian Inlet, Atlantic Surf Federation Championships in November 2016.  He scored the Championship for 2016!


Brock getting a carve on a wave at Sebastian Inlet ASF Championship Finals in the Adaptive Assist Heat.  

Roni on an epic wave as she clinches the highest ASF Honors with a first place in the Adaptive Surf Assist Division!  She is a great surfer and shines light where ever she goes.

The Victory Ride!  Those smiles say it all!  Congratulations to Roni and her team!! 

Island Inspired also makes boards for Adaptive Surfers outside our local area.  Adaptive board designs have gone out to Virginia, Kentucky, New Mexico and California!  Our boards are each designed with the particular needs of each surfer in mind.  

Eryn has ALS but her dreams to surf again were realized with this design made just for her.     

The seat is adjustable and this board can accommodate assistants on the front and on the back.  The assistant on the back can either paddle like a surf board or stand up to paddle with a SUP paddle. This design is going to replicated for more adaptive surfers in the very near future.  

Heather surfs for Challenged Athletes Foundation and took her board all the way to Duke Fest!  What a great experience to surf the waters of Waikiki with some of the best adaptive surfers in the world.


We encourage you to get involved in the Adaptive Surf movement.  Our local group www.adaptivesurfproject.com is always in need of helpers for events from basic surf sessions to big events such as Wheel to Surf.  Donations can be made directly to the Adaptive Surf Project through their web page.  Information on their fund raisers, weekly activities and other information can be found on their  facebook page and on their instagram account.  

If you are interested in getting your own Adaptive Surf Board made, please follow the link to our web page for information then fill out a custom order inquiry so we can set up a time to talk to you directly about your new board.

Next stop:  National Championships – California, USA


Training for the Battery with Island Inspired SUP Ambassador Trish Lord


           By Trish Lord | Island Inspired Paddle Board Ambassador        


I Don’t Want to Die

in the Charleston Battery

Love and Race Training

for The Chucktown Showdown

I should write about how much I love this beautiful peaceful sport but today I can’t. Today I didn’t go for a leisurely stroll, to meet up for a paddle with friends, I didn’t teach people for their first time or guide an eco tour. I went to train. Train for a race that is quickly approaching in a week. I don’t think I am going to win but I don’t want to die out on the battery in Charleston. I want to have the stamina and muscle to make it to the finish line. 




Pawley’s Island Creek Puts Me to the Test

and Always Gives Me a Great Workout

I got up in the morning rolled out of bed and loaded my board on my car. Threw on my bathing suit and made sure I had a pocket for my phone and a place for my car key. I got to the Southend parking lot of Pawleys and I put my board on the water, set my app to track my pace and took off.  It looked like a nice morning, looked like calm water and nice breeze. But as I pulled myself through the water I was exhausted after 15 minutes. I was sweaty and out of breath. I realized the water deceived me. The current was pushing hard under the surface of the water and the breeze had picked up to actual wind. I couldn’t find my rhythm, couldn’t find a good pace. I wondered why I do this?  Why not turn around and grab coffee, sit on the beach and watch the waves. Part of it is the challenge but part of it is the lifestyle that keeps me in balance.



Finding the Balance

I Need to be on My SUP

I pushed through, pulling, dragging myself though the water stroke after stroke. Suddenly I wasn’t thinking about my pace or how tired I was or how much my muscles would hurt later. I saw an egret fly right in front of my face. I could see its feathers, it’s graceful body, it’s beauty. I saw a fish flip out of the water. I realize my thoughts were floating on the water right in front of me. This is why I do this.  I find the balance of my life.  The lifestyle. I find the beauty in the chaos. I didn’t accomplish my goal of 2 miles, after 1.5 miles I beached my board and let my muscles recover before loading it on my car. I was stinky and sandy but I was finished. I was at peace with visions of the marsh, the birds, the fish. I was restored back into balance. 


Trish Lord is new to blogging but not to paddleboarding.  She has been an Island Inspired SUP Ambassador and has been challenging herself with paddleboard racing for over 5 years.  Trish and her husband live in Pawley’s Island, SC with their three girls.  Even though they are transplants from Philadelphia / New Jersey Area, they have found their island home here at the beach.  She is also a full time Special Needs Educator focusing her work on Autism Advocacy and Support for the educators and families who are affected by Autism and Spectrum challenges.  She is a true champion in and out of the water.  Follow Trish on instagram @trishl7 .  


One on One with Surf Ambassador Antwoine Langley

   Antwoine Langley   

Grace Morrison, Student of Coastal Carolina University and Island Inspired Board Company’s Marketing Intern, met with one of our veteran Inspired Ambassadors, Antwoine Langley of Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, on Sunday at Starbucks Cafe.  While most of the conversation focused on what surfing and Island Inspired Board Company means to him, we also got  a few answers to some of the more probing questions we could ask about his favorite things. See their Q & A sesh below:

How did you get started in the water?

Well, I started off skating and tried a bunch of stuff in between, but aerial skating was what I like the best, even though I hated falling. One of my buddies asked me to try surfing with him because it gave all of the elements of aerial skateboarding with the added forgiveness of the water.


Antwoine pictured here flying high in an aerial photo by Professional Photographer Jim Whitney, Owner of Sessions Surf Photography.


What got you started with Island Inspired Board Company?

One of my friends introduced me to Todd one day on the beach and ended up needing a board a little bit later. I went to Todd and he made me a design that I loved, so I kind of just stuck with the company. Todd is a great guy, and he makes amazing boards. I love the company so I decided to work with them.



Antwoine pictured here with Island Inspired Owner /Shaper Todd Sutz and their trophies from the days events.


What does being Island Inspired mean to you?

Island Inspired is more of a lifestyle. It means that you’re fully commited to something and dedicated about it.

What is your favorite part of surfing?

I think my favorite part is knowing that I’m in the perfect spot to take off.

What is your favorite board?

This question is hard for me because I can’t answer it. I love all of my boards, and don’t specifically have a favorite.

What is the one thing you want to accomplish as an ambassador?

To be an inspirational and improved image for the next generation.

What inspires you the most?


I think the thing that inspires me most is that I’m one with myself and I’m happy with that. When I’m surfing I always feel like I’m at the right place in my life.

What is the one thing that you want people to know about you most?

Everywhere that I go, I always keep a smile on my face. People tell me that all the time so I guess that’s a big part of my personality.

Last question, Where is your favorite spot to surf and how did you find it?

Hermosa in Coasta Rica. I met a guy once in California and he asked me how I surfed the little waves of Carolina so he offered for me to come visit him and try out the big waves. I ended up going and having a great time, so now I travel the world surfing the best spots with him and testing my limits. So far, I’ve done really well, so we will see how it goes.


What is up next for Antwoine? 

We will have to check back soon and find out… in the meantime, you can follow him on Instagram @antwoinelangley

Side Note:  Todd and Antwoine worked together to develop a special performance  surf model called The Rasta Air.  You can see more detailed information on that board by clicking this link… RASTA AIR!

Always Aloha,







You Can Walk on Water too…

Let’s start off with this:

       Anyone can Stand Up Paddleboard.  That is right.  Anyone

There is no prerequisit for this sport.  Honestly, you don’t even have to know how to swim because you can SUP in water that only reaches your knees.  On the right board, ANYONE can SUP.  I like to use SUP because the “s” can also stand for Sit Up Paddling which my kids and I occassionally partake in.

That is right, we are being honest.  Now, there is an elite group of athletes that take this sport and the equipment to the extremes and they absolutely deserve the awe and respect we grant them.  But, there is also a huge number of leisure paddlers that just hop on and start exploring the waterways just for fun.  Today, we are speaking to you!

So, whether you are already a Novice SUP-er or currently thinking about getting into the fastest growing sport in the world, I have some great points to offer as a beginning paddler that you may or may not have already considered…

The benefits outweigh any fears or objections.

  • Anyone can do this.  No special skills are needed before you try.  Life jackets are required in some areas for flat water and river paddling so knowing how to swim is optional.  If you don’t know how to swim, I insist you get a very stable board so that you can wobble, but not fall down.  Remember:  No one starts out as a pro, and not everyone has to be uber competitive.  Paddling can be just for fun!
  • You are outdoors and receiving multiple benefits from the sun, fresh air and movement.  Think of what this time on the water can do for your personal well-being.  Contemplate, meditate, pray, socialize.  You get to spend time focused on that something you need to put balance in your life.  This same equipment fosters each one of these aspects.  Amazing, huh?
  • The cardio workout is so worthwhile.  You can burn a bunch of calories per hour because you are using your whole body to move and balance the board. 
  • Speaking of using your whole body…Your core will totally benefit from this sport.  With each stroke you will be working core muscles rarely used in other sports.  Having a stronger core improves your posture and your balance for other things!  Bonus!
  • With an SUP you are equipped to explore places you have never gone before.  A little adventure is just what each of us need.  Once you get started, you will be addicted to this new part of your life.
  • It’s an all weather sport.  Paddling is not just for sunny summer days.  Check out the warm gear you can get for staying cozy atop your SUP during that winter wonderland snowfall paddle on the lake. Sit down and enjoy a warm coffee from your thermos before you paddle back to the house.  Or, pack a picnic, strap on the cooler and find yourself an adventure! Seriously, this happens!
  • Dog’s love to paddleboard. Remember they need a life jacket too!
  • You can become as competitive as you want.  There are so many venues available for new paddlers all the way up to elite competitors. It is a relatively new sport so there are always new races, fun paddles and festivals popping up. 
  • Stand Up Paddleboarding is as flexible as you are.  Flat water, Sprint, Long Distance, Wave Surfing, you name it.  The right board can do all of these!  Or you can buy special boards designed for each specific discipline.  As a beginner, you would likely want to choose an All Around model that will allow you to try out all the different aspects and then specialize later if you choose. 

For more information on how to choose the right board click those highlighted letters. A helpful laymans guideline when choosing your first, second or new favorite board.  Just remember, your local SUP shop or Island Inspired Boards are always a great option!

Our staff can also quickly help you asses your needs and goals and point you in the right direction on board selection.  You are always welcome to come to our Board Demonstration Days to try out all of our models to get your feet on them all and feel the difference the one you connect you with. 

Demo days are listed here…  Island Inspired Demo Days Schedule

Next blog… Best Places to Paddle in South Carolina!  You are going to need to know this now that you are on your way to being hooked on this life changing activity. 

Go walk on water.

Always Aloha,