Kayaking with a dog on board: It works with these 11 tips
Many dog owners would like to let their own four-legged friend participate in their hobbies.
For this reason, SUP with a dog on board is very popular, but the stand-up paddlers are not one step ahead of kayakers.
With the right preparations and taking into account a few safety aspects, kayaking with a dog is also possible.
Kayaking with a dog is not an easy task. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with everything that is important.
From important preparations and the first meeting of dog and kayak to your first tour together, we cover many questions and give practical tips so that kayaking with a dog works for you too.
1. Your dog comes first
Admittedly, a day on the water together sounds like a great idea. However, you should not leave your dog out in the decision-making process. Your dog's breed and personality do indeed play an important role.
Is your dog a good swimmer? If the kayak capsizes, that's exactly what matters. Would your dog even enjoy a several hour trip on the water? After all, he is spatially quite limited during this time.
What about the natural waves of the water? Is your dog okay with this? As you can see, the personality of your designated kayak buddy is not negligible.
Many dogs are significantly more active than humans. You have difficulty sitting still in the kayak for long periods of time. Another problem is that your dog may feel intimidated or provoked by the kayak paddle.
Initially, we advise against kayaking with several dogs. In addition to individual dog behavior, you also need to pay attention to group dynamics. The whole situation on the kayak is a completely new experience for dogs.
The ground moves back and forth, drops of water splash on their fur, and their master's head turns redder and redder with time. The behavior of a single dog - let alone that of several - is difficult to predict.
Hyperactive dogs can even capsize the kayak. Especially in cold water this only increases your problems. With particularly active dogs, you should first play a round. Slightly drained, they are in much better shape for a kayak tour.
Also, some dogs just aren't cut out for kayaking. Dogs already in the car
If you get nervous, the speed and the additional threatening movement of the paddle will certainly not do you any good.
Some dogs absolutely hate water. For them, a trip in a kayak constantly surrounded by water would not be fun either.
In our experience, however, many dogs enjoy kayaking. Ultimately, the person who knows your dog best is you. Consequently, you are the one who can best assess whether kayaking with a dog is something for both of you.
2. Get your dog used to the kayak
Kayaking with your dog is not an afternoon project. Before you can go on tour together, you have to get your dog used to the sports equipment.
The large plastic bowls are often completely unknown to dogs. They are large, brightly colored and often threatening to dogs.
To begin with, simply place the kayak on the ground and let your dog explore it on its own. If your dog is not interested in the kayak, you should help with some food.
It is best to put the food on the seat so that your dog sees the seat as something positive from the start. This uncomplicated first step simplifies your first tour enormously.
Your dog has given up its first fear of the big plastic thing. The next step is to get on board. Take some time in the kayak. Let your dog see that you are comfortable in the kayak.
Now it's time for your dog to find its way into the kayak on its own. Don't just put him in, but instead make him want to come of his own accord. It is best to place a few treats or toys on the kayak seat.
3. Preparations before the tour
If your dog willingly hops into the kayak standing on the ground in the garden, that doesn't mean much per se. The truth is, there's a big difference between a stationary object in a familiar environment and a floating kayak in a new area.
The training on land still helps massively. This is the only way your dog can develop a first feeling for the kayak and lose the initial fear.
Teach your dog to always jump into the front seat and sit down immediately. Of course, there is no such thing as jumping on the water, but the reflex to sit down immediately is very important for you. You can only keep control of the kayak if your dog sits down quickly.
The duration of the training depends on your dog. The weight of your dog also plays a crucial role. A dog weighing 20 kilograms should be able to sit down quickly, otherwise your kayak will shake quite a bit later on the water.
4. First time on the water
In the first tours you should load and unload the kayak in shallow water. It may be easier at first to help your dog into the canoe first.
However, many dogs are startled if the boat rocks back and forth violently when you climb into the kayak. It's best to try both variants and see which works better for you.
Once you're both in the boat, you shouldn't start paddling right away. It's important to take it slow at first. If you start right away, you might scare your dog and he will jump into the water.
Slowly test your four-legged friend's limits and keep reminding him to sit down. Be patient and repeat the game until your dog is comfortable.
The paddle looks threatening to dogs. It is best if you have familiarized your four-legged friend with it beforehand. On the first tour you should wait a few minutes before picking up the paddle. At first just glide over the water.
Watch your dog constantly and calm it down with a treat if necessary. When the situation is calm, it's time for the first slow paddle stroke. Perform the paddle strokes extra slowly to give your dog time to calm down between each stroke.
Continue paddling at a slow pace. Now it's time to introduce your dog to the sense of speed. During this phase, it becomes even more important to teach your dog to sit still.
The whole situation is very demanding for your dog. Lots of new experiences are pouring down on him. So give him time.
On the first tours you should take it easy. Before every trip on the water, loading and unloading is practiced in shallow water. Initially, the excursions on the water should be very short with only 5 minutes.
The background to this is that you want to get your dog used to kayaking without the dog fearing that it will not return.
5. The first tour
Your dog has already gained confidence in the kayak on your first short trips to the lake. Now it's time to start a longer tour. The tricks that helped with the first short excursions on the water will work here again.
Did the treats help? Then take some with you again. Or was it a specific dog toy or the dog bed? All of these little things help make your dog as comfortable as possible on the kayak with you.
On a kayak tour you will meet other water sports enthusiasts, anglers, birds, fish and other dogs bark from the shore. You know best what is bothering your dog and how he is likely to react.
In the best case, you can cleverly avoid everything your dog jumps on.
If this is not possible, you should keep a sharp eye on your four-legged friend. Reminders or another treat can help keep your dog calm.
Dogs that get particularly excited when they see other dogs are likely to do the same on the water. Try to sensitize your dog to this. If you take him to dog parks more often, you will get used to it and your dog will not jump off the kayak at the first bark.
6. The best kayaks for paddling with dogs
The choice of a suitable kayak depends heavily on your dog. A larger animal also requires a larger boat. In most cases a tandem kayak will do. In terms of design, sit-on-top kayaks are the most suitable. This type offers your dog enough space to move around.
You should always put your dog in front of you. That way you have a view of him and the kayaker sitting in the back can better steer the boat anyway. If your pet is particularly active, two seats close together will be useful as it will make it easier for you to calm your dog down.
The inflatable kayak should also have storage space for your equipment. In contrast to normal kayak tours, additional equipment is required when kayaking with dogs.
7. A dog life jacket is mandatory
Many dog owners spontaneously think that their dog can swim. That is basically correct, but there can always be emergency situations in which a dog life jacket becomes a lifesaver. Regardless of how well your dog can swim, a dog life jacket should be put on.
In the (unlikely) case that the boat capsizes, the life jacket comes in handy because you can use it to pull the dog out of the water.
8. Pack a dog key
When touring in fresh water, your dog could drink the water, but the kayak is actually too high above the water, making it impossible for your dog to reach the water. Take his dog bowl with you to scoop up some water and serve it on the kayak deck.
Nervous dogs tend to drink little. Encourage your dog to drink by regularly fetching up new water.
9. (Water) toys and the dog bed should not be missing either
With toys and your own dog bed, you can help your dog to get comfortable. The toys you brought with you are practical because you can use them to keep your dog busy during the breaks.
At best, you really power him out so that the dog stays calm on the next section of the tour while you are paddling.
10. Plug in a leash
Your dog does not stay on a leash in the kayak. For the breaks, however, a dog leash proves to be practical. In addition, the leash neither takes up much space nor weighs a lot and can therefore easily be stowed in a drybag.
11. Provide enough food
A large sealable bag of dog food is mandatory for longer tours. Plans are not set in stone. Even if you only count on a short lap, short trips turn out to be real adventures. The last thing you want halfway through your trip is a hungry dog sitting right next to you.
Kayaking with a dog requires a certain amount of preparation. Once the training phase is over, things can really get going and the fun begins.
With all the focus on the dog, you should not lose sight of your own safety. Wearing a life jacket is also essential when kayaking with a dog.
If the kayak capsizes, you quickly have the problem with a dog on board that your dog wants to swim to the next shore. At the same time, you have to keep yourself afloat and somehow turn the kayak around again.
If you wear a life jacket, at least you don't have to worry about your buoyancy and can take care of your dog and the kayak instead.
Under no circumstances should you put the leash on your dog and tie it to the boat. In an emergency situation, the dog leash could become a deadly trap for your dog.
Also, talk to your vet about your plans. Before you start planning for training and the first tour, the doctor should give you the green light. Additional vaccinations against certain types of worms may be necessary.