Surfing Dogs: How to tell if your pup is ready to catch a wave

Dog that inspired event prepares for 2nd annual competition

Usually, when you think of surfing, you don’t think of dogs.

Well, that’s about to change. Flagler Beach is preparing to welcome back the Hang 8 Dog Surfing event.

The city’s mayor said it all “came about because of Wednesday,” her 8-pound chihuahua.

Mayor Suzie Johnston told Florida’s Fourth Estate hosts Matt Austin and Ginger Gadsden her pup has no fear of the water.

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“(Wednesday) would follow you (into the water) and think that she was a lifeguard,” Johnston said.

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So, when Johnston noticed Wednesday liked skateboards she said, “why don’t we try her on a surfboard... and she was a natural.”

To further encourage her dog’s water activities and to get others in on the fun Johnston helped organize the inaugural Hang 8 Dog Surfing event in 2022.

She said it was a “big success.” Hundreds of people showed up and 35 pets competed.

This year she expects the crowd to be even bigger.

Johnston and other dog surfing supporters care so much about the success of the event, they went before the county commission to get special approval to hold the event at the Flagler County Pier, where dogs typically are not allowed to roam, yet alone surf.

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When it comes to catching a wave, Johnston said to follow your dogs lead.

“The dog really is going to tell you if they’re interested in the sport. They’re going to either run and hide under the bed or they’re going to want to jump right on that board. So it’s really natural ability. Do they love water? Are they a natural at it?,” she said.

Johnston encourages dog owners to get involved in the event, but said there are some things you will want to keep in mind.

Take safety measures. Wednesday has a leash and a life vest.

Johnston said it is also important to know your dog’s skill level.

“Knowledge is really picking the right wave. The last thing you want to do is send your dog in a wave that’s above their skill level and for them to crash and really get a fear of the water,” she said.

Johnston added that every dog that takes part in the event is a winner.

“We give participation trophies for this event. Every dog receives a metal,” Johnston said.

Even if your dog hates the water, event organizers said they can hang out in the sand and take part in the costume contest, or just watch.

The Hang 8 Dog Surfing event starts at 8 a.m. on May 20 at Flagler Beach.

People and pups interested in signing up for the event can do so before or at the event.

To learn more check out Florida’s Fourth Estate or watch anytime on News 6+.

About the Author:

Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.