You can only do so many activities with your dog before you explore some new experiences together. Inherently, dogs love the water—it's in their blood. Therefore, if you enjoy kayaking by yourself or with a partner, you may want to bring them out to join you. Here's what you should know before taking your dog kayaking.
Assess Your Dog's Aptitude
Before even you consider stepping foot in a kayak, take your dog out for different water-related activities to see how they respond. Verifying that they enjoy the water and can swim, you know that they will be ready to take on this new adventure.
Furthermore, you will learn how your pup will respond to specific commands. If they don't listen to simple instructions like "sit," it may not be in your best interest to take them out in the middle of the water.
Lastly, if they are prone to chasing any animal they lock their eyes on, you might want to keep them ashore. The last thing you want to do is track down your doggo because a bird flock entices them.
What You Should Bring
Follow a checklist of items you need to bring on board to ensure the safety of your pooch like they are another person. You'll want to get the following things to prepare for any circumstance:
- Lifejacket or another floating device.
- A water bowl to keep them hydrated.
- Pack some snacks for you and them.
- A leash to guide them off the kayak and keep them in check when onshore.
- A towel so they can lay on something soft that the sun doesn't affect.
- Dog toys to play fetch, assuming they are into swimming.
- Sunscreen and other sun-shielding products. No one, even your dog, wants to burn to a crisp.
Get Used To the Kayak Together
You both can learn about the kayak together. Bring the kayak on land for your pup to sniff around, jump in it, and feel comfortable when they lay inside it. Additionally, you can take your kayak out with a friend to feel like you can operate it while keeping an eye on your dog. Getting a kayak boat motor for your kayak aids you if you have to calm your dog while you are strolling along.
Safe Test Run
You're so close to heading out and having the time of your life with your best friend. But first, it's wise to go through one more test together. Instead of jumping into the virtual deep end, dip your toe in the water to see how you both can handle the situation.
Bring your kayak to the shore, and gently push yourself out near the edge of the water. Staying calm and secure will bring peace of mind for you and your dog, reassuring them that they don't have to worry about going into the water. Don't get frustrated if this takes a few attempts, as they are unfamiliar with a moving kayak's motions.
Even if you are a glass-half-full type of individual, it helps planning for the worst-case scenario. The two most obvious problems are your dog disregarding any commands if they jump ship and if the kayak tips over. So, let's go over what you need to do in these situations, so nobody hurts themselves.
Dog Jumps Ship
Your dog may be exhibiting the discipline to follow your commands in a neutral environment. However, you don't know how they will react when put to the test. Seeing a fish, frog, or bird they were unaware of might tickle their fancy, causing them to plunge after them. Here's what you need to do if this does happen:
- Keep your composure. Your dog usually senses your mood and the inflection in your voice. If your canine senses fear and anger, they may try and swim further away.
- Give them a command they will understand and follow to get back to the boat. Paddling towards your dog also helps in this endeavor.
- When you are within reach, stow away your paddle so you don't frighten them. If their lifejacket is on as it should be, it will be easier to lift them out of the water.
- Suppose they aren't wearing a lifejacket without tipping over. You'll need to reach underneath them while keeping parallel with the kayak. Stay calm, cool, and collective, so they stay still before bringing them.
Let's hope it never comes to following these tips and your dog stays safely on board. But it's better to be safe than sorry!
Kayak Tips Over
An Olympic gold medalist in kayaking or crew likely tipped over a time or two in their career so that it can happen to the best of us regardless of your expertise. If you fall victim to a sudden wave, here's what you need to do:
- First and foremost, find your dog! In a time of panic, it's easy for your mind to race, but don't forget that your dog is with you.
- Assuming you and your dog are together, head back to the tipped kayak in a calm manner. If you are freaking out and flipping your gourd, they might follow suit.
- If possible, try and flip the kayak over, although it may be challenging if you have no footing.
- Gather your paddle and find a place where it's secure.
- Get your dog on top of the kayak so you can push them ashore as your swim.
- Get yourself back in the kayak. The most limber people can't even make this look smooth. As long as you get on, it doesn't matter how pretty it looks.
Enjoy the Ride!
If you feel you check all the boxes of what you need to know before taking your dog kayaking, it's time to hit the water and enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of Mother Nature. The serene environment is just as enjoyable for your dog, especially if you take in a lovely sunset together. At Bixby, we have various kayaks and other equipment that provide all the fun in the world without compromising safety.