Apart from ‘together time’ for you and your dog, fitness is the major benefit with kayaking. Swimming is a wonderful low-impact aerobic activity for dogs. She will have to work harder to swim than to run due to the resistance of the water. However, as long as your dog is confident enough to travel in your kayak or canoe, there shouldn’t be any pressure on her to swim. She just may enjoy the ride, in which case all the fitness benefit will be yours !
Slowly, slowly is a great way to introduce dogs to any new activity. If your dog doesn’t naturally take to the water it may take several times to build it into a positive experience. Your dog will need a surface she can easily grip and be good with commands such as ‘leave it’. Consider the size and weight of your dog before embarking on such an outing. A large dog is capable of capsizing a canoe ! Are you able to pull your dog back up onto the craft without risking injury to yourself?
There is no need to seek deep water; just a paddle in the shallows may be enough and be sure to educate yourself about currents.
We recommend the use of a properly fitted floatation device for humans and dogs when using craft on the water. Make sure that if your dog is on a lead it has a quick release clip in case there is an entanglement. Dogs have no idea why you want to go kayaking and super-excitable personalities are least suited when it comes to safety.
If you are travelling on salt or brackish water, offer your dog plenty of fresh water before and during and after your adventure so she is not relying on salt water for drinking. If you happen to have a dog that drinks a lot of salt water you’ll probably need to restrict swimming.
Endurance swimming may not be as suited to short-nose breeds or other conditions where breathing is compromised. Be hyper-vigilant at all times when your dog is around water. She cannot tell you if she is tired or has a cramp. Bathroom breaks should still be factored in.
Leah & Angela O’Meara
Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane)