Kayaking is an excellent way to spend a sunny weekend when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. However, it can get lonely sometimes, as some of you know. What about your dog?
For some of you, taking a dog on a kayak might sound dangerous and irresponsible. As long as you know how to kayak with a dog properly, both of you will enjoy the ride. So, if you’re thinking about giving this idea a go, today, we’re going to talk about everything you need to know about how to kayak with a dog.
What do you need to kayak with a dog?
Before I give you step-by-step instructions, we’ll begin by making a list of what you’d need for the journey with your pet companion:
- A dog-friendly kayak
- Personal floating device for both of you
- Leash and harness
- Food and water
Tips For Kayaking With your Pooch
Kayaking with a dog can be fun and exciting, as long as you know what you’re doing. Just follow these 9 steps and you and your pooch will be fine.
# 1 Judge if your dog is suitable for kayaking
I would like to say that all dogs make excellent boat companions, but that’s not true. Before you take your vessel to water, here are a couple of things to consider:
- Attitude to water
For a nervous and anxious pet, which loathes new experiences, kayaking will probably be too much. On the other hand, a dog that gets excited easily and loves to jump around or chase things will be difficult to keep in check during the ride.
The other important thing is the dog’s size. As you can guess, the heavier the dog, the more likely Lucky will capsize the vessel by accident. What’s more, a 150-pound dog will make paddling and navigating the kayak more difficult.
In addition to this, believe it or not, some dogs do not like water or swimming at all. So, you have to ensure that Lucky doesn’t panic when he is near water. You can do that by introducing Lucky to a dog pool or take him to the beach.
# 2 Talk with your veterinarian
Rivers and lakes are usually the home of mosquitoes. The problem is that these bothersome insects carry a dangerous parasite that could be fatal for dogs. I’m talking about heartworm, also known as Dirofilaria immitis.
Your pet might get infected by a mosquito bite so you must talk with your vet about heartworm prevention in the form of pills or drugs.
Also, it’s a good idea to ask your vet to check out your dog so that you can be certain that Lucky is in top condition to go kayaking with you. A sick dog in a kayak is not something you’d want.
# 3 Choose the right kayak
Not all kayaks would be suitable for a ride with your dog, so you might have to buy a new kayak or upgrade your current one. You want:
- Well-built, stable vessel
- Durable material, which nails and teeth won’t tear.
- Big enough to fit both of you comfortably.
Take into account your dog’s personality. For example, if you think that Lucky might get too excited, it would be better to keep him close by so that you can grab the leash in case of emergency. A mellow pet, on the other hand, might like to ride on the bow.
Check this list of dog-friendly kayaks and find the best one for you and your pet:
# 4 Ensure that your dog is obedient
Obedience training is an essential part of the relationship between a dog and a human. But it’s also necessary to control your pet and keep him out of trouble. If your dog is not well-trained and doesn’t respond to your commands, you shouldn’t even think about kayaking because it will be dangerous for both of you.
In the boat, you want your dog to sit where you tell him to sit, stay by your side or lie in your feet. In case something interesting pops out of the water you have to be able to contain your dog’s excitement and prevent Lucky from jumping off the boat. The same goes if Lucky panic suddenly.
You’d also prefer if your kayak doesn’t get covered in dog’s feces, right?
# 5 Get the dog used to the kayak
Once you’re confident that your dog won’t hesitate to obey your commands, it’s time to introduce Lucky to the kayak. You can’t just pack your bags, take the dog, and throw him in the kayak along with the gear. It won’t work well and might traumatize your pet so much that he would never again approach a kayak.
So, you’d have to show Lucky that there’s nothing scary about your boat. Place the kayak in your yard and let Lucky explore it and get familiar with its scent. When he seems comfortable around it, you might proceed to the next step.
# 6 Train your dog to leap in and out of the kayak
Let’s be frank. Even the most obedient dog won’t jump in the kayak when it’s in the water. Of course, if you have a small dog, you can just lift in and put in the boat, but it won’t work with an 80-pound fellow.
So, you have to train Lucky how to leap in and out of the vessel beforehand. Start practicing on land until your dog gets the hang out of it. Here’s how to do it:
leap in and out of the vessel
- Encourage your dog to hop into the kayak by tempting him with a treat.
- When Lucky does it, have him sit and give him a special treat. Don’t forget to praise him.
- Do the same to teach him to hop out of the vessel and remember to make Lucky sit when he jumps out.
- Repeat until you’re certain that your dog will follow your commands without hesitation.
Take thing slowly by having a few short trips in calm waters.
# 7 Keep the dog in the kayak
Once you start paddling, the motion and the paddles might scare Lucky. Keep an eye on him and don’t forget your commands. “Stay” is the most important one, and you shouldn’t even think about a kayak journey before your dog has mastered it to perfection.
You’d have to keep your dog happy during the journey, so you’d better stock up on treats. Giving Lucky tasty food is an excellent encouragement to keep him sitting/lying still.
Also, make sure that Lucky knows “Leave it” so that he doesn’t jump off the kayak when he sees a large fish or a bird.
# 8 Provide entertainment
Even the most patient and well-behaved dogs will get bored after a time, so bring water toys along with you to keep Lucky entertained. And don’t forget to fill a bowl with water to keep your pet hydrated. You should also reward the dog the moment you get back onshore to create a positive connotation.
# 9 Take safety precautions
Accidents sometimes happen, as much as we would like to avoid them. So:
- Don’t forget to buy Lucky a personal flotation device (a life vest). You’d have to teach him to wear the vest, so take the time to do it properly.
- Do not tie the leash to the kayak because you might not be able to untie Lucky on time.
- Apply sunscreen to sensitive areas such as the nose and the belly.
- checkBuy insurance if you don’t have one already. In case of an incident, the medical bill for the dog or you might cost hundreds of dollars.
As you can see, kayaking with your dog is not that complicated. If you do everything right, Lucky will be looking forward to the next kayak journey, and he will love it as much as you do. But, if you feel that your pet is not enjoying the ride, do not force the issue.