Few things are more enjoyable than sharing your kayak adventures with a friend.
And that goes double if your friend has four paws! Paddling with your pup adds a whole new dimension to your kayaking adventures, and you can be sure your four-legged pal with probably love it too. Dogs are highly sensory animals, and they usually enjoy new experiences.
Most dogs who try kayaking quickly learn to love it.
But, before you put your furry pal in your kayak, or on your paddleboard for that matter, consider the following information to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly and safely as possible.
Get a PFD for your dog
First and foremost, you MUST equip your hound with a suitable PFD. Most dogs are naturally strong swimmers, but they can still get tired or injured, panic, or lose their bearings and swim off into the distance.
A dog-specific personal floatation device will keep your dog safe and with his or her head above water. Most Dog PFDs also have a handle on the back to make it easier to get your mutt back on board if they should fall or jump into the water.
Get Them Acclimated To Your Kayak
Please don’t assume that your dog will automatically feel comfortable on your boat; they probably won’t.
They’ll want to explore every inch of it, and that could be a problem if you are out on the water.
Give them the chance to examine and get acclimated to your kayak on dry land. This may need several attempts. Show them where they need to sit and lie and even put a waterproof dog bed in your kayak so they can learn which is their spot. Place a favorite toy or two in your canoe so that they have something familiar nearby.
Once they seem comfortable with your kayak, repeat the entire process with you sat in your normal position.
Your being in such close proximity could be a distraction that they need to learn to ignore.
Initially, your dog will probably be very excitable, but with gentle repetition, they should calm down and start to feel more relaxed and comfortable on and around your kayak. Once Fido is suitably familiar with your kayak on dry land, you can start introducing them to the water.
Work on your commands
With such limited space in a kayak, your dog must behave themselves out on the water. Many kayaks and paddleboards are capsized by over-energetic dogs!
Make sure your dog can follow your commands and will sit, lie down, and stay when told.
Because most dogs will also want to jump off the kayak and swim, you also need to make sure they have good recall. It’s no fun trying to paddle and retrieve a dog that really doesn’t want to get back on board!
Start off in shallow water
Now your dog is familiar with your kayak, you may be tempted to pack up and head out on a long trip. While your enthusiasm is to be applauded, it’s a bit too soon to take your dog on their first kayak expedition.
Instead, with your new paddling buddy safely on board, start off on some very short excursions in shallow water. This will be much less intimidating for your dog and will make things easier for you if things start to go wrong. Staying close to the shore will give your dog a reassuring point of reference that will help increase their confidence.
Keep your first few outings pretty short – say 15-30 minutes.
You can stop, rest on dry land, and repeat several times, but it’s important to build up their tolerance gradually. Let them play in the water too. After all, you don’t want them to be scared of the water when they are out on your kayak.
Remember, kayaking is not just new for your dog; it’s entirely unnatural.
Short exposures to this new experience will be less overwhelming than trying to do too much too soon. If they start to feel nervous, they may become resistant to going out on your kayak, and you’ll have to win their confidence all over again.
Fit your kayak to your dog
Make sure you have enough space for both you and your dog on your kayak.
A super-sleek one-man kayak is not really suitable for canine kayaking. Tandem kayaks, sit-on kayaks, and kayaks with large, open cockpits are ideal, and a Canadian-style canoe maybe even better. If you don’t yet have a kayak, and want one that can accommodate your dog, make sure you shop around and buy one big enough for the both of you.
Rigid boats are also generally better than inflatables. Your dog’s claws won’t puncture a rigid hull. The same may not be true for an inflatable.
Look after your dog
Your dog’s needs on your kayak are the same as they are on land.
They need to drink, eat, pee, and poop. Make sure you have ways to accommodate these needs. Carry dog food in a waterproof canister, and also make sure you have their water bowl and plenty of fresh water.
Make regular stops on dry land to give them a chance to pee and poo. You’ll also need a shovel to bury their waste or bags to collect it up and take it away with you.
Another consideration you need to make is temperature.
Humans can control their temperature simply by adding or removing clothing, but dogs are not so lucky. Hot sunshine without shade can leave your dog dangerously overheated, while cold water and winds can leave them shivering.
Make sure you consider the air and water temperature so that you can keep your dog comfortable and safe.
Kayaking With Your Dog Is FUN 🙂
Kayaking is such an enjoyable activity that it makes perfect sense to want to share it with your dog. However, you can’t just plonk your dog on your kayak and assume they’ll be ok.
While some may take to kayaking quickly and easily, others may be more nervous, and some may never feel happy about having water beneath their paws. Use the information in this article to make sure your dog learns to love kayaking just as much as you do.