The first time you went kayak fishing, you probably had to recall some of your previous training to get the most out of your adventure. It’s the same with our four-legged friends too. With the right training, your dog can be an excellent water adventure buddy. Below are a few preliminary areas to focus on with your pup.
Know the Water You're Paddling
A lake is probably the safest place to paddle with your dog, but if you’re going river kayaking with your pooch, it’s important that you are familiar with the river in its current state of flow. Paddle the river without your dog first to make sure there are no surprise rapids that have appeared since you last ran it. This is extremely important during rainy seasons or on rivers that have water release times. Make sure the river is mellow and there are multiple places to take out should your dog get anxious while on the water. We wouldn’t advise ever taking your dog out on big, open waters as the risk of mishap is too high.
Does Your Dog Like Water?
It's a must! Don't try "forcing" water on a non-water dog. There are some dogs that just don't like water and will be stressed out the entire time on a kayak, which will not be fun for you or them. It's pretty simple to know if you have a non-water dog--if they don't like to run or jump in the water on hot days, or you bring them in water just deeper than what they can stand in and they immediately try swimming back to shore, you unfortunately have a dog that won't be comfortable on a kayak.
Sit, stay, come and leave it are always important commands in a dog’s (and your) life. However, it’s even more important while out on the water. If there is something that catches your dog's eye—you don't want them to leap off the boat after it.
Introduce the Kayak
To a dog, a kayak can be big and scary. Putting the kayak in your house or yard and showing your dog that it’s safe to sit in, maybe getting in with them, will go a long way when they are ready to be out on the water.
Getting On And Off The Kayak
It’s not intuitive to a dog, especially while the boat is in the water, so teaching them the techniques on dry land will help them feel more comfortable with the process. Teach them to jump in, sit immediately (treats help) and remain in place. Repeat that technique in shallow water, holding the kayak still. The same training works for getting off of the boat. Of course, our littler pups can be lifted on and off by their harness.
Comfort is key. We test out our boats to make sure that they not only meet our fishing and experience needs, but to make sure that we can comfortably spend as much time out on the water as possible. Dogs find comfort in a secure footing, not sliding around in a wet kayak. Grab some deck padding or non-skid pads where the dog will be sitting, this will also help to keep them still.
- Life Vest. This may require additional training on dry land.
- Harness. Extra safety measure in case they fall in the water.
- Leash. For off-kayak land excursions. Don’t attach to your dog and tether to the boat while out on the water.
- Sunscreen. Noses and bellies are susceptible to sun burns.
- Snacks and water. Bring some for yourself too!