If you are a dog owner and have recently taken an interest in kayaking you may have the question set in the title of this post on the tip of your tongue. So are kayaks dog-friendly? Let’s find out…
The person who said you can only take dogs on walks and runs did not factor kayaking into the mix. The short answer is that yes kayaking is safe for dogs, particularly if they enjoy spending time in the water.
It is a really good form of exercise for both of you, as it works out your back, core and arms and if you allow your dog to jump into the water and swim, it’s a really great form of cross training that will cool them off and work their joints with little to no impact.
Even if your dog is not fond of the water, most dogs will enjoy the time they have with you in the boat, taking in the sights, sounds and smells. It’s important to note that we mentioned the word most, as some dogs are not keen on sitting still and may get very anxious inside a boat such as a kayak.
If you are interested in taking your dog kayaking, here are some tips to follow.
Invest In A PFD or Personal Flotation Device For Your Dog
Even if your dog can swim well, there are some good reasons to get your dog a PFD.
If they jump out of the kayak and are scared, the PFD will keep them afloat and out from under the water until you can reach them.
There is normally a handle on top to make it easier to pick-up to help pick up and put your dog back onto the dock or boat. Even if they are maybe too big to pick up, you still have something you can grip onto to pull them in the right direction.
Help Your Dog Familiarise Him/Herself with Your Kayak
Spend some time allowing your dog to sit in your kayak at the dock so they can get used to it. Gently move it around and show them that it is safe. This is the best time also to work out if a tandem or one man is best. Many big dogs need tandem to enable you to paddle while they lie in the kayak.
Start On Flat Water First
It is obviously not a good idea at all to take your dog out onto a fast river or the choppy waters of the ocean on the very first time in a kayak. Start out slowly and gradually, first taking them on a bay, pond or lake where the water is generally always calm and quiet. If your dog jumps out or even falls into the water, then they will be able to swim easily to shore. Additionally, it will not be as hard to paddle on calmer waters, giving you and your dog the chance to acclimatise to being out in the boat and paddling together.
Take A Friend Along For Support
You are best taking your dog out in the kayak when you are with other people. It is always good to have a friend with you for moral support and actual practical help. As many dogs can, even if only initially, be nervous and anxious of kayaks and boats, it may suit your dog to take a team out on a tandem kayak to help encourage them to relax and settle down.
Always Stick Together
If you are going out kayaking as a couple and are bringing along your dog, both you and your dog may want to be in the same kayak together, do your best to accommodate that. Your dog may want to keep jumping out of the kayak to be with the other person. Therefore, rather than cause any unnecessary further stress for your canine friend, keep the whole family together in the same boat.
A dog that has had a good level of obedience training will excel in a kayak. It is important that before you head out on any body of water that your dog understands the basic commands such as sit, down, stay and leave it. After all, you do not want something catching his or her eye, causing them to jump off the kayak to try and get it. It will not only make your kayaking with your dog experience safer, but less stressful and much more rewarding if your dog does understand simple commands.