Whether you’re on vacation or heading to the lake for the day, kayaking is a great activity that keeps you both cool and active. It’s one of the best ways to explore a new lake or river without the need to rent a boat or canoe. But, you probably want to take your best friend with you. So, how can you safely bring your dog kayaking?
Necessary Skills Your Dog Needs To Kayak
While it would be great if all dogs could go kayaking, some dogs may not be cut out for it. Here are some necessary skills and behaviors your dog needs before they come out on the water with you.
Your dog is able to swim. It’s a common misconception that all dogs are able to swim. It’s important you practice in a shallow area before you take your dog kayaking.
Also Read: Can Dogs Swim in Saltwater?
Strong response to commands. While kayaking can be relaxing, you may come across wildlife or other people while in the water. In order to ensure the safety of your dog and all other life, it’s important that your dog is able to respond to commands like “Leave It” and “Stay”. That way if something happens they will stay on the boat and under your safety.
Also Read: Hiking with Dogs in Summer
Here are some other commands that would be helpful for your dog to know:
Place: This can be a great command for when your dog starts to wander around the kayak or gets excited by something you come across. While in the house this command is great to make sure your dog is out of the way when there’s commotion, it’s also great in the boat. When you train your dog to find their place in the boat, make sure it is the safest spot for them. It’s also important that it’s a comfortable spot for them. Finding some way to cushion the plastic of the boat is important so they are encouraged to stay there.
Up & Out: These commands are great ways to lessen the stress of getting in and out of a kayak. They are also easy commands to teach, for all it usually involves is repetition. Bring treats with you to the boat and reward them when they follow you as you practice getting in and out of the boat. Once they’re competent at this, add the command, and practice a lot more!
How To Make Your Dog Comfortable On a Kayak
Type of Kayak to Use: If possible, try to use a sit-on-top kayak. This will allow your dog to have more space, and thus feel more comfortable. Also, try to find a wide kayak. This will again give your dog more room to move around, but it will also help prevent tipping.
Practicing in the Kayak: It’s best to practice getting in and out of the kayak on land with your pup before you go into the water. However, once they’re comfortable with that, you should still practice for a few minutes at a time in shallow water close to the shore. This will help build their confidence in the boat and the knowledge that they will always go back to land after kayaking with you.
Best water to Kayak on Calm, smooth, and clean water is the safest to take your dog kayaking in. While most dogs have great balance, it can be dangerous if they fall into choppy water. This means that you should avoid the ocean for the most part, along with fast rivers. Lakes are often the best bet. However, make sure to avoid the toxic blue-green algae (also known as a bacteria called cyanobacteria) that thrive in still water during mid and late summer. Blue-green algae can be toxic to dogs if they come into contact with it and can be lethal if swallowed.
Gear To Bring When Kayaking With Your Dog
Here is a list of gear you should always have with you when on the water with your pup:
- Doggy Life Vest
- Leash & Collar
- Poop Bags
- Doggy Sunscreen & Medical Supplies
What To Do When You Tip Over
Accidents are inevitable. It’s likely that at some point you and your pup will end up tipping over. Here are some steps to handle this correctly:
- Stay calm. Alerting your dog to your stress may cause them to come and attempt to help you. This can be dangerous if they get too close, impede your ability to swim or float, and potentially cause you to drown. Limit any yelling or splashing to as little as possible.
- Locate your dog and keep them next to you. This is why it’s necessary they wear a life vest, even if they know how to swim.
- Swim back towards the boat and flip it back up. It’s important to practice doing this before you bring your dog with you on the water.
- Pull yourself into the kayak first. While it is not ideal to leave your dog in the water by themself, it will be easier to keep the kayak from tipping again once your weight is in it. Once you’re securely in the boat, lift up your dog into the kayak first by their life vest, and then by their torso. Do NOT pull them into the kayak with their legs or neck In order to avoid injury.
Overview: Kayaking With Your Dog
Kayaking is a great way to explore the outdoors with your best friend. However, getting out on the water with your dog isn’t as easy as it is alone. It’s important to make sure your dog is comfortable with your commands and kayak before heading out for the day. Bringing necessary supplies like a life vest, water, and sunscreen is very important to ensure a safe trip. Knowing how to handle regular safety hazards, like a tipped kayak, is also necessary before adding your dog to the equation. This will lead you to a fun and stress-free day!