|The news is that summertime is here, and if that means paddling with your pooch, here are a few important things to consider:
Consider the size of your dog vis-à-vis your kayak. A sit-on-top can usually
work for all but the largest dogs and they can
roam around on deck without de-stabilizing it. With traditional cockpit boats, small- to medium-sized canines can fit nicely on the cockpit floor between your legs. With a dog in the cockpit you’ll be paddling without a spray skirt, so make sure you paddle waterways that are safe from wind, waves and wakes. The cockpit opening must be large enough for you and your dog to make a safe wet exit in the event of a capsize. Your kayak should also have adequate flotation to allow you to make a reentry and pump out.
|Portuguese Water Dog “Skimmer” on Long Island Sound.
Photo by Elizabeth Shannon.
A well-behaved dog is necessary for a safe and enjoyable trip. He should know and respond to the basic commands of “sit,” “stay” or “wait,” and “no barking!”
Your dog needs a life vest just as much as you do. Be sure it fits properly, and has a grab strap on the back to make it easy to pull the dog back into the kayak, if necessary. Many paddling and outdoor shops now carry canine boating accessories.
Don’t put a leash on your dog and attach it to the boat; however, when you reach shore, put the dog on a leash right away. Also know where dogs are permitted; many city beaches are closed to dogs. Be sure to carry bags for cleaning up after the dog when ashore and dispose of the bags properly or pack them home.
Consider your dog’s personality. Be sure your dog likes the water. If he doesn’t, he won’t have fun and could put a damper on your experience. If he is highly nervous, introduce him to the sport very gradually on short trips.
And finally, your dog’s sense of smell may alert you to wildlife you wouldn’t ordinarily notice, but don’t let him chase wildlife on land or water!