Have you ever thought about going kayaking with your dog when you go on your adventures? Or are you afraid of it not being a pet-friendly activity?
Well, we are here to tell you that kayaking with your dogs is not only possible but very fun for both pet and owner. You just have to do it right, and in this article, we are going to talk you through the steps you need to do to pull it off.
The first thing to know is what the best kayaks for kayaking with your dogs are. The top favourite kayaks chosen by experienced kayakers and dog lovers alike for kayaking with your dogs are the “Malibu Two” from Ocean Kayak and the “Old Town Vapor 10” kayak.
They both have large cockpits that give your furry pal a comfortable space to be in. They are stable, lightweight, and suited for both ocean and freshwater.
Now that we have insight into our ideal kayaks, we have to start getting ourselves and our fluffy pal ready.
Is Your Dog Eligible for Kayaking
To live the best experience kayaking with your dogs, you have to make sure your puppy is up for the task. You will have to consider training your furry friend for:
1. Making sure your dogs are at ease with the water: We know you may want to share this experience with your doggo, but if your little one is not a friend of bodies of water, it is best not to force them. They should have as much, if not more, fun than you do.
2. Can your dogs be comfortable with a life jacket?: You will have to make sure your friend can hang out with a piece of clothing on top. Life jackets or PFDs (Personal Floatation Device) are essential items that must not be underestimated.
3. Do your dogs obey commands?: most importantly you will need to be able to maintain voice control over your pup when kayaking so it will not go wandering off on a whim.
Once you have these aspects covered, your pal is ready for the next step.
Training Your Dog For Kayaking
The key to an ideal training period is patience and repetition. There are no shortcuts to it.
1. Get the dogs familiarized with the kayak: You should start letting your pet get comfortable around the kayak on the dry land first. Let them know it is a safe spot, and no harm will come to them when they are inside.
2. Try playing with your doggie around the kayak. Throw the toys inside the kayak while playing fetch, or pet them while inside the kayak so they know it’s a place of comfort and fun.
3. Teach your dog specific commands: While on the water, there is not much time for mistakes. You should train your pups with concise commands that they can follow in a stressful situation or the presence of various stimuli.
4. Short commands like “sit,” “Down,” “Jump,” or “Come back/let’s go” can be of help. Make sure your furry friend understands the meaning of each command.
5. Start slow: Take baby steps. Whether you are on a beach or a lake, it is best to start kayaking close to shore. In case your dogs freak out and jump out of the boat, it will be in a controlled space. Once you see your pet getting more comfortable around the water, you can increase the distance from the shore.
6. No leash aboard: It might sound like a good idea, but it’s not advisable to have your dogs on a leash while kayaking with them. It can be quite dangerous. Imagine your kayak tipping over and your pet not having the chance to swim to the surface.
7. Personal Floatation Device (PFD): Make sure your pet won’t take the PFD off. Some people take the risk of kayaking with their dogs without a floatation device. However, we recommend that you don’t follow their example.
Not only would it prevent your dogs from sinking (if they weren’t able to swim). The PFD can also provide a safe holder for your pets in case they jump out of the kayak. Or in the case of tipping over.
8. These PFDs for dogs have customised handles, where you can manipulate your dog as easy as grabbing a rucksack.
Try these five steps as many times as necessary. Remember that you have to understand your dogs’ pace and needs. If you force them, you will make it an unpleasant experience for them, and they will not enjoy the ride or even want to get on the kayak. So, take it slow.
What to bring with you when Kayaking with your dogs?
The things you must bring for your kayaking trip with your dog vary according to where you will be kayaking, the climate, and the time.
But there are some elements you can check as your basics:
1. Treats: Bring them in a waterproof bag. And treat your dog when they obey every command. They will associate their good behaviour with treats, so it’s more likely they stay in the line.
2. Water: It’s kind of a given, but make sure to bring fresh, clean water both for you and your dog on every trip. Bring a bowl for your pup; that way, they can drink as they please without having you to stop paddling for a water break.
3. Sun Protection: Yes, dogs can get sunburn too. The reflection in the water can cause sunburn. So it’s better not to underestimate the power of UV rays. You can find a sunscreen specially made for pets. Or even cover them with a hat (hats on kayaking dogs are not a fashion statement; they can actually be helpful).
4. Toys: You can bring toys with you for your pet to play fetch on the water, but also try to take toys that are not associated with fetching for when you want to keep your dog inside the kayak.
5. Towel: It can be a towel, a blanket, or even a special pad: The importance of this is a double feature. First, you will lay it on your dog’s place, so they know that’s where they need to be. And also, it will make a more comfortable space for your pup.
With these top 5 items, you can work around your needs. Make sure everything is concealed in waterproof bags.
What to do if you tip over?
Nothing is perfect, and not even the most experienced kayaker could control the whims of mother nature. But you can be prepared for any inconvenience that may hit your way and even more prepared if kayaking with your dog.
The first step in case of tipping over is to remain calm. When you panic, you cannot think straight, so you need to be able to solve the crisis as fast as possible.
Don’t let your dog know you are distressed. Talk to it in a firm and calm voice while you try to sort out how to get back on the boat.
Hold your pup as soon as you can, and keep it close.
You’ll have to make sure that the kayak is steady and that the paddle is secure. Once you have done that, grab your dog by the handle (this is where PFDs come in handy) and push them up at least with the two frontal paws, the dogs will do the rest of the job. Once on the kayak, reassure your dog to let them know they did a good job and that everything is okay.
Then try to get yourself up on the kayak. If it’s not possible, then try to kick your way towards the shore. Always remembering to stay calm for your dog.
If you are able to get back on the kayak, take a moment to breathe and gather your thoughts, reassure your dog as needed. The worst is over now.
You have to make sure this isn’t a traumatic event for your puppy, for it may be the last time your dog would want to get near a kayak.
We know it could be difficult, given the conditions. But it’s part and parcel when kayaking with your dog.
This doesn’t normally happen. However, you should prepare for the worst during this kind of activity.
You can also train for this in shallow waters just so you can get a handle of how to manipulate your dog in the water and help them back up on the boat..
So, what do you think about it? Do you believe your dog is up for the adventure?
We believe that with this beginner guide, you will have all the tools for kayaking with your dog.
Follow them, be patient, and you’ll see that you will be living adventures alongside your furry friend in no time.
Remember that this is an experience and an opportunity to have fun for both of you. So learn to read the signs your dog is giving and try to act accordingly.