Tips for Canoeing or Kayaking With Your Dog
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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, Dogchannel.com 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 canoekayak.com.
Dogchannel.com 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:
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.
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. Canadasguidetodogs.com notes that a life jacket will also aid in trapping moisture and keeping the sun off of your dog.
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. Canadasguidetodogs.com 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.
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.
Buy more gear – Canoekayak.com 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.”
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.
Final Rule – According to canadasguidetodogs.com, 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