How to SUP with a Pup

dr RACHAEL marshall _PROFILE

With Dr. Rachael Marshall

How to Sup with your Pup

an interview with Author Maria Christina Schultz, Virginia USA

Stand Up Paddle boarding, known to most as “SUPing”, has its routes firmly grounded in the shores of Hawaii, much like its surfing sibling. Originally pioneered in the 1940’s when the Hawaiian Beach boys used to paddle out to breaks standing up to avoid getting their camera gear wet, it grew into its own sport in the 60s. It has now taken the world by storm due to its appeal to both surfers and non-surfers alike as a cross over sport. You don’t need a wave to enjoy SUPing and is in fact one of the best workouts for core muscles out there today. Several adaptions to traditional SUPing have started emerging over recent years ranging from SUP racing, SUP freestyle, SUP fishing, SUP cross training, SUP yoga, and my personal favourite, SUPing with Pups (your canine best friends).

I caught up with Author, Maria Christina Schultz recently who is an avid SUPer from Virginia, USA, who like me loves her dogs and loves to SUP. Maria has recently released a guide on how to SUP with your Pup and had some very interesting and motivating things to say! I couldn’t wait to jump on my 12ft Vanhunks SUP board with my Kelpie Kippa after our interview and will definitely be grabbing a copy of her book. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and where you are from? I’m originally from Buffalo, New York, but I’ve been in Virginia now for 9 years. In Buffalo I loved the snow, and spent my winters on the ski slopes. When it wasn’t snowing I was rock climbing or hiking. I love being outside and enjoying nature – especially when I have my dogs with me. Not only do I love dogs and nature, photography, graphic design, and teaching people to SUP are also my passions.

How long have you been SUPing and what attracted you to the sport? I have been SUPping for 3 years. I saw the sport on a trip to Hawaii several years ago and thought it looked interesting. At that time I was really into rock climbing, so I wasn’t too interested in trying it. But a few years later rock climbing was taking it’s toll on my body and I decided I needed a new hobby that wasn’t so intense. My new hobby needed to be something that would allow me to bring my dog, Riley, with me. It seemed entirely possible to get a big dog on a paddleboard, so I was bound and determined to get Riley to ride with me. Not only could I bring Riley with me, but I could get a great total body workout, and we could explore parts of our local river that aren’t easily accessible. It seemed like a perfect fit!

sups with pups


Do you ever compete in any SUPing events or is it purely a hobby? For Riley and me it’s about being together exploring nature, and hopefully inspiring others along the way. I have not gotten into racing, but we have participated in recreational races. It’s always fun to show other people that dogs can enjoy SUP too.

Since you hail from Virginia, USA, can you explain what it’s like when you go out on the board for us Aussies who mainly SUP in the ocean? We are very lucky to live so close to so many great rivers in Virginia. Paddling on flatwater is unique because it’s peaceful and quite. We get to see so much wildlife too, turtles, beavers, fish, birds. It’s a different experience each time we go out.

You not only SUP, but you do it with your Australian Shepherds, how did you find it when you first started SUPing with the dogs?

From the first time I stood up and paddled me and Riley down river, he was so relaxed, so calm, it was clear he was having the same feeling I was. And like me, he was completely taken by this new sport. It’s hard to explain, it was something that felt like it was just meant to be!

What has been one of the best moments for you since your started SUPing? Every time I see my dogs howl and jump with excitement when they see the board. It never gets old!

What tips do you have for those starting out with their pups that might be having a bit of trouble getting their loyal companion to stay on the board? Make sure you train on land before you head to the water, and teach your dog to understand the paddleboard is a place to sit and relax, not romp around! We believe any dog can be a SUP PUP, however your dog should like water first. If your dog is terrified of the water you should probably think about a land sport to enjoy together. Puppies are a challenge because they have a harder time sitting still, so be sure and wear a puppy out before heading to the water. Older dogs are great if they are happy lying at your feet. But for most dogs it’s just about being by your side. As long as you are patient, train slow, and make it a fun experience — I think you’ll find training easy and fun!

You are the author of a fantastic book “How to SUP With Your Pup”, how long did it take you to put it together and what was your motivation? The book took about 6 months to complete, but it was a labour of love! When Riley and I were out paddling together I would constantly get asked how I trained him, and people seemed so interested in being able to train their own dogs. So I thought why not share our training process? Why not make the training simple and fun so others can enjoy riding with their own dogs?

What has the feedback been like on your book? Overwhelming and positive! People have responded to it very well, it makes me feel good – like I accomplished what I set out to do. Inspire others to get out there with there dogs!

how to sup with your pup


Do you have any more plans in this area in the future? I would like to publish a second edition soon. After teaching so many other dogs to SUP, I have more valuable content I would like to be able to give people. We will keep teaching SUP PUP classes in Virginia and the East Coast as much as people ask us to!

If you can pass on one tip to fellow SUPers about taking their dogs along for the ride, what would it be?Don’t underestimate your dog’s ability to learn new things! Your dog just wants to be with you! Make training fun, and positive! Just remember to work at your dog’s pace!





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