Tips for Canoeing or Kayaking With Your Dog

Last week: 3 New York City Food Trucks for Dogs

Kayak dogYou don’t have to leave your dog behind on your next kayaking or canoeing trip – just follow these tips and you’ll both be saying “Bow-wow!”

According to the American Canoe Association (ACA), paddle sports are some of the fastest-growing outdoor activities. Since 1998, canoeing has increased by 16.3 percent, while kayaking has rocketed 130 percent.

If you’d like your pooch to join you on the water, recommends, “Before you start paddling with your dog, first assess whether your dog is ready. Does she love the water? If so, train her to jump in and out of the canoe on land, then progress to shallow water before moving on to longer trips.”

Any pooch can become water friendly. “Generally, even though dogs such as Newfoundlands and Labradors have been bred especially for their resilience to cold and swimming capabilities, you don’t need a special breed,” according to suggests that if you are new to canoeing, you should contact your local paddle outfitter or retail outlet and try to meet others who canoe with their dogs.

Here are some tips for safe paddling with your pooch:

Dog-Friendly Start training early – Getting your pooch used to the canoe in and out of the water will help her trust you and hop right in. If your pup is a bit skittish, it’s a good idea to let her in the canoe first, then you can join her while your partner stabilizes the canoe at the shoreline.

Dog-Friendly Safety first – Always equip your pooch with a life jacket. The large handle on its back helps to control her while she’s in the boat, as well as to grab her if she falls or jumps overboard. notes that a life jacket will also aid in trapping moisture and keeping the sun off of your dog.

Dog-Friendly Stability and traction – Be sure to lay a rubber mat on the slippery bottom of the canoe, which will help keep your pooch from falling out. also recommends that you maintain a low center of balance by keeping your butt on the seat and your knees on the bottom of the canoe. This gives you three points of contact with your canoe and locks you in as much as possible without straps.

Dog-Friendly Boating commands or gestures – Try to establish a few boating-specific commands for your dog before you go on the trip. This will ensure that she won’t be confused or distracted by her new environment and won’t end up injuring you or others.

Dog-Friendly Buy more gear – suggests that you pack for your pooch just as you would for yourself, recommending that your dog’s gear includes ”a dry bag for food with a hard-sided container inside to keep critters out; a folding bowl for water; a doggie-flotation device; a towel; a leash; and a first-aid kit.”

Dog-Friendly Love your leash – It is highly recommended that you purchase a floating leash that comes with a buoy-like grip. That way it will be easy to locate your pooch if she leaps off the canoe or kayak.

Dog-Friendly Final Rule – According to, 95 percent of all cases of dogs jumping overboard occur within 5 feet of the shore. You may become careless and lose your focus, or your pooch may become overly excited and jump out, taking you with her. Either way, it’s not a happy ride home, so be sure to stay focused and keep your dog calm until you hit the shore.

Next week: Fall Hiking Tips for You and Your Dog

PHOTO: andyarthur

Kara Ogushi

Contributing writer Kara Ogushi is a pet mom to two dogs and five rabbits. When she isn’t writing travel tips for pooches, she’s exploring new ways to share and create media.

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Category : Sailing and Water Sports &TRAVEL TIPS

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  1. [...] according to their Facebook page. Your happy pooch can even ride along with you on the kayak. They also offer standup paddleboards, fishing, and nature and sea life cruises, if [...]


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