Thanks for your questions! Before teaching your dog an activity like paddle boarding, you should find out just how strong a swimmer he is. It’s important to build on skills he already has. If your dog is used to being in the water, slowly introduce him to deeper water for short periods of time.
We would definitely recommend a life jacket for your dog even if you are confident he is a strong swimmer; it’s a good idea if you are planning to be in deep water or far from shore. You may encounter waves or rough conditions and having the jacket on will ensure your dog can stay afloat if you were to become separated.
There are reasonably-priced life jackets for dogs on Amazon. Local pet stores may also carry them. We would suggest getting one that has support for his head (often a removable piece that attaches under his chin). At home, introduce your dog to the jacket by letting him sniff it, then try it on for just a few minutes. Build on this until he is comfortable wearing it. Use the same idea with the paddle board; introduce it to him at home, let him sniff it, treat him for standing on it, then slowly build up the time he spends standing on it.
Then add all the components; start slowly in shallow water and let your dog get comfortable and balanced on the board. Brings lots of treats and reward any positive behavior. Watch your dog for signs of stress, and limit training time. Your dog may take to this new sport right away or it may not be for him—follow his lead for next steps.
We hope you enjoy your adventure together!