How To Kayak With Your Dog – All You Need To Know

Kayaking has always been my favourite summer sport. My frequency started dwindling when I got my dog. At first, I was hesitant to kayak with Tommy because I feared he would drown. Then I thought to myself if dogs can swim, why shouldn’t they go kayaking? That is how it all started, and the reason why I am going to explain everything you need to know about kayaking with your dog. But first;

Kayaking With A Dog
Credit To: David Moser

Is Kayaking With Your Dog A Good Idea?

Walking and playing fetch are not the only ways to exercise your dog or spend time together. Sometimes you need to take them out of their comfort zones and into a new location. One of the best ways to do so is kayaking. The activity is not only exciting but also immersive. It exposes your dog to nature and allows it to bask in the sun as it takes in plenty of fresh air. 

Equipment You Need For Kayaking With Your Dog

There are some necessary pieces of equipment that you need when kayaking with a dog. You don’t just put your dog on a watercraft and start paddling. You need to plan and prepare before you expose your dog to this new activity. Some of the vital equipment include:

Kayaking With Your Dog
Credit to: Tim Colvin

A flotation device is a very beneficial kayaking gear for dogs. It is the only thing that is going to keep your dog afloat in case it decides to jump in the water. Personal floatation devices or PFDs for pooches come in a unique design and shape. 

It should only cover the upper part of the body while leaving the lower part bare. There should also be a handle attached to enable you to haul your dog back on board if it decides to go for a swim. 

When buying a PFD for your dog, make sure it fits snugly but allows easy movement and does not chafe.

You should have a first aid kit for yourself when kayaking, and the same applies for your dog. Consult your vet about what things would be appropriate to keep incase of emergency and how to apply them.

If you love kayaking during the summer as I do, you should consider carrying sun protection for your dog. Zinc oxide will do a great job. For application, squeeze a small amount of Zink oxide on your fingers and gently rub your pooch’s nose with the compound. You can then go ahead and enjoy a long day on the water without worrying about your pooch getting sunburn.

Your dog is not going to forego pooping simply because it is on water. So carry some poop bags. Encourage your dog to do the business before you go kayaking.

Bring along a leash but ensure it is short enough to avoid unexpected entanglement. This can be useful to keep your dog within the kayak. You also need it in case the dog enters the water and starts swimming away. Consider carrying a light and more conspicuous leash for easy visibility.

There are chances that your dog may end up feeling hungry while you are still on the water. To avoid cutting your kayaking session short, consider carrying a collapsible bowl with some treats. That way, you get to keep your dog full and relaxed.
Make sure you have plenty of fresh water and a bowl to put it in.Like humans dogs should not drink seawater or be tempted to do so.

One thing that you should never assume is that your dog will remain dry throughout the time you will be on the water. Having a towel for during and after kayaking will keep both of you happy.

What Is The Best Kayak For Your Dog

When choosing to kayak with your dog, it is imperative you have a kayak that can accommodate both of you.  If you have an existing kayak, make sure it is suitable.  If not you will have to get another one.  

Kayaks come in various shapes and sizes.  Depending on the size of your dog, you may beable to use a one man kayak, or you may have to get a two man kayak so your dog has its own seat.

Kayaks are either hardshell or inflatable.  Inflatable kayaks are great for convenience, but be sure your dogs claws are not able to punchter it.  Some inflatable kayaks are incredibly strong and tear resistant, but these are expensive.  

How To Kayak With Your Dog
Credit to: Scott

Sit-in or sit-on-top kayaks

Make sure you consider this option carefully.  A sit on top kayak does not have any sides and can allow your dog to move freely on the deck.  This is great to stop them from overheating, but there is nothing to stop them falling in the water if the craft gets rocked by a wave.

Sit inside kayaks have a cavity that will protect your dog from spray and also proved a platform they can easily drink from without fear of falling in the water. 

If your dog is new to kayaking I would suggest a sit inside kayak as this has the most advantages and will set your dog up for a successful kayaking trip rather than a fearful ride.    

Other things you need to watch out for on your kayak include:

  • Footrest availability
  • Adjustable seats
  • The stability of the kayak
  • Capacity (Add your dogs weight to yours and the gear you will be carrying)
  • A rudder is a great tool, especially if you have to hold your dog with one hand, you can still steer.

Starting To Kayak With Your Dog

Once you have everything in place, you need to go ahead and figure out how you are going to kayak with your dog. To be on the safe side, don’t assume anything and instead prepare for everything. Consider the dog training tips for kayaking below.

How To Kayak With Your Dog
Credit to: smihan13

Dogs tend to behave well when they are around something they are familiar with. Before you decide to take your dog tot he water, allow him to get familiar with the sight and smell of your kayak.
Put treats in the cockpit, allow him to sit in the kayak with you when on dry land. Repeat this until your dog is familiar with the sights and smells associated with your kayak.
The action of the paddle could scare your dog, so pretend to pedal on dry land. Continually asure and encourage your dog so they learn to be comfortable with the action of you padeling.

Kayaking with dogs requires you to be alert and active throughout. That is because you will be handling the canoe, paddling, concentrating on the destination, and tending to your dog all at the same time. To ease the process, you should teach your dog the necessary commands. First, start with simple commands like stay, leave it, lay down, stop, and don’t. These commands seem elementary, but they are going to save you so much time and energy. While your kayak is still in your yard, invite your dog and start going through these commands. You should begin the lessons weeks before the scheduled kayaking day. Make sure it responds to the commands with minimum effort. Once the dog is ready, you can consider going for kayaking.

You should start getting your dog accustomed to kayaking in shallow waters close tot he shore. If your dog panics and jumps in the water it should be able to make the bank easily and not feel as if its going to drown. All dogs instinctively know how to swim, but some are better at it than others.
If your dog is afraid of water, getting them acostomed to your kayak may take a while so be patient.

Things To Consider While Kayaking With Your Dog

You will experience a massive difference between what you were doing on land and when you get on the water. The change can be significant for your dog, and that is why you need to start gradually. Here are details of somethings you need to remember during the first-day kayaking.

Using the commands, you taught your pooch earlier, instruct it to board the kayak. You should then launch the kayak slowly to avoid splashing water and scaring your dog. Remember, it is the first time your puppy is going to open waters. The first impression matters a lot. It’s going to determine how your dog behaves throughout the upcoming rides.

Make sure you paddle in a slow and rhythmic pattern. The gentler you go, the more comfortable the dog gets. You are also going to keep it from exhibiting a nervous behaviour that may ruin the whole day. Increase the speed slowly and keep close to the shore just in case.

Don’t plan to be on the water for more than 20 minutes. Keep your first trip as short as possible. By keeping your dogs tiem on the water limited for the first few outings you will have a far greater chance at success. Gradually increase the time as your friend becomes more at home on the water.

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