Calling all kayak enthusiasts! Are you a dog lover too? Do you own a dog? If the answer is yes, then why not consider taking your dog on your next trip, instead of leaving it at home, pining away for you to return. Your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend may be your soul-mate, but your dog will always be your best friend. Most dogs love the water and you can indulge in your favorite sport or hobby and please your loyal friend at the same time. It may sound strange to some, but by kayaking with dog seats, it’s possible.
Your Dog Comes First
First you have to think about the size of your dog in comparison with the size of your kayak. For big dogs, you would need a broad beamed or wide kayak. The kayak for your dog should be stable and easy to maneuver with the extra weight. Depending on the size of your dog, you have to think about weight capacity for the comfort and safety of both of you. If your dog is one of the toy breeds, you shouldn’t have any problems. A single seat kayak will accommodate you and your dog quite comfortably. It could sit between your legs without any great worries. Of course, an adjustable seat would be ideal. The only other factor is the temperament of your dog.
Big dogs are another matter. If you are talking about Great Danes or St. Bernard’s, weight capacity is a deciding factor in which kayak to buy or use. Not only space, but stability is of importance. A big dog shifting suddenly could unbalance your craft. Tandem kayaks, with a front seat are better for medium or small dogs. Their behaviour can easily be observed.
There is also the question of which type of kayak to get, if you wish to take your best mate along. It is probably easier to take your dog along, if it’s big, with a sit-on-top kind of kayak, as opposed to an enclosed type. Some dogs don’t react well to small spaces such as a tandem kayaks provide. Fortunately, there are kayak attachments for dogs.
Kayaking with Dog Seats
Basically, kayak attachments for dogs are just non-slip platforms. Your dog has a stable and comfortable perch on which to sit or lay upon. Easy to use by the dog. These dog kayak attachments are strapped on and are easily removable. They can be placed wherever the dog feels more comfortable riding, either on the bow or stern. On a tandem kayak they can be placed between the two cockpits. Dog seats work better on sit-on models. On closed hull kayaks, with a kayak cooler taking space, dogs may feel constricted and have less room to stretch or lay properly, especially if they are one of the larger breeds. Alternatively, there are traction or grip pads that are simply laid on the hull and stay adhered through suction. The face up side is made of non-slip material, so it gives the dog some traction. Whatever your kayaking activity, there’s a solution that won’t leave your best mate sitting on the shore.
Types of Kayaks
There are a multitude of kayaks to choose from. There are rigid and inflatable, sit-in and sit-on. There are different types of kayaks for different kinds of kayaking. First, you must choose what type of kayaking to do with your dog. It is doubtful that you will want to risk your dog by going whitewater kayaking with it. Again, most people won’t take them on ocean going or long journeys, so certain kinds of kayaks can be ruled out. The next decision is whether sit-on or sit-in. There are many designs which include removable, adjustable or foldable kayak dog seats. Other options are padded backrests, storage nets and pouches. Both have their pros and cons.
Taking your dog along usually means that you are off for a day’s relaxation and fun, maybe even a couple of days, but not shooting rapids, racing or gruelling feats of survival on long marathon trips. Recreational, Crossovers or Day Tourers are advised for taking your dog. Recreational kayaks are 12ft or less and wide beamed for stability. Day Tourers are just that, there and back, for the fun of it. Crossovers are a mix between recreational and touring, so they can be used for both. These types are all suitable for placid waters: lakes, slow flowing rivers and sheltered seawater conditions. The decision between sit-in and sit-on really depends on your dog. Some dogs are happy with sitting in a cockpit in a hard shell, which separates them from direct contact with the water. Wind or water spray may irritate or disturb them. On the other hand, other dogs may love the freedom of a sit-on kayak. They like to be close to the water and feel the wind in their face.
Temperament of Your Dog
As stated above most dogs love the water, but not all of them. Dogs that have never had experience of water may well be frightened of it, the same as many small children. Most, if you can entice them into it, will enjoy it. You can’t force a dog with no experience of the water onto a kayak and expect a good result. Almost all animals react badly to unstable surfaces. First, you have to ensure that your dog loves the water as much as you do. If it doesn’t, either train it not to fear water or forget the idea. Of course, if you looking for a kayak in which to take your dog, it’s unlikely a problem. Some dogs are placid and calm in any surroundings, but others aren’t. For dogs that are very excitable, a sit-in, enclosed hull may not be the best idea. Large dogs may even upset your kayak. Obedience is also another factor. If your dog doesn’t respond to commands, then you could both be in trouble!
If you are thinking taking your dog on your kayak, but have never done so before, it would be a good idea to encourage them to sit in or on it when it’s out of the water. This gives them the smell and feel of the craft. It gets them accustomed to it. Next, encourage them to try while it is tied up and sitting in the water. This gets them accustomed to the unstable surface and find their balance, much the same as any person would. Some dogs don’t need any encouragement to jump on anything that moves!
- On every outing you need to take account of the weather. You may be an all-weather kayaker, but your dog may not be.
- Make sure that there is adequate space for your dog. Measure your dog from snout to tail before buying a kayak dog seat.
- Both of you should have life jackets or personal floatation devises or PFD, as they are also called. Believe it or not, they also make them for dogs. They come in different sizes to suit all types of dogs and are adjustable. Most have a handle on the back to help haul your dog out of the water. Flashing rescue lights can also be attached to them.
- If you are using an inflatable kayak, make sure your dog’s nails are clipped, just in case.
- Attaching a leash may be advisable, but that depends on the temperament of your dog. It’s not a good idea to attach it to your craft, as a panicked dog may capsize your kayak and then both of you may be in trouble.
- Depending on the length of your trip or activity, take adequate food and bottled water. Make sure you have enough storage space for the necessities of you both.
- Consider getting an outrigger, which is just a platform for your dog, but will add room and stability to your kayak.
Kayaking with your best friend will be a wonderful experience that both of you can enjoy with just a little forethought and preparation. A man or woman and their dog don’t have to be separated by an activity on the water anymore.