POOCHES on paddleboards will be trying to catch the best waves when a new competition comes to Poole this summer.

Dog surfing competitions have already proved a big hit in places like California, Florida and Australia, but surf club owner Mark Reeves wants to bring a similar event to Dorset.

Set to take place on July 15, the competition will see dog owners send their pets out on paddleboards in a series of heats. The dogs which ride the most waves or have the best surfing styles will receive the highest scores.

Only dogs with a proven love of the water will be eligible to take part, with weekly practice sessions for participants scheduled to take place in June.

Mark, who runs Shaka Surf Branksome, said the canine competitors would even be provided with lifejackets. A separate contest for owners who prefer to surf with their dogs, rather than sending them out solo, will also be held.

“It’s really popular to go paddleboarding with dogs - a lot of people do it down here as it’s a dog-friendly beach,” he said.

“My girlfriend, Abi, suggested organising a dog surfing championship as they do similar competitions in California and Australia. But when I searched online I couldn’t find a dog surfing competition in the UK.

“Hopefully, on the day we’ll have waves, especially for the independent dog events. If there aren’t any waves, we’ll have paddleboard races.”

A panel of judges will hold up number cards when scoring the competitors. And to make the event even more fun, there will be prizes for dogs in fancy dress.

“There will be four dogs in each heat and they’ll spend around 10 minutes in the water.

“With the paddleboard, we take the fin out, and then the owner will paddle out with the dog and push them into the waves. Whichever dog gets the best wave or has the best style wins,” Mark said.

“We’re pretty sure it will work, but people will have to practice with their dogs first.”

He added: “There’s going to be people saying it’s not very nice for the dog, but we want to reassure everyone that the dog has got to love the water and the sea to take part.

“The owner will have to prove that by taking part in a session before the event.”