how to... Kayak
I have always loved kayaking. This is a sport we have both enjoyed and only in our mid 20s decided to invest and spend more time getting better at it. We loved white water kayaking in France so felt our kayaking skills were good enough to introduce our dog to the sport.
I have a fantastic inflatable kayak which I highly recommend and have written a review for if you need some ideas yourself about which inflatable to pick. The reason for this is that we usually take the bikes on our trips too so having a pack away kayak takes up less space on the top of the car and it also makes our activities more portable. The kayak is a comfortable 2 man and leaves space for Pepper in between the legs of whoever is in the back. Initially she was very excited to get in it (as I am sure you can imagine!) Pepper is a large dog and the kayak is fairly lightweight so we had to be firm with her to get her to sit so being consistent with the rules for your dog is a must. There is no room for standing and she could topple us over, making our kayaking trips far wetter than we intended. Make sure your dog follows your 'sit' command and understands this must happen when in the kayak. Practise with lots of treats on dry land first, giving you a chance to see how they respond in a new environment. Once you have enough confidence in your kayaking abilities and your dog's ability to sit then you are well on your way. Take plenty of treats and keep praising your pooch and enter the water with the aim to just do 10 minutes kayaking with the dog sitting in between your legs. Keep praising and treating your dog along the way as they must be well controlled when onboard. It isn't much fun reminding them to sit every 2 minutes. After floating down the water (we recommend a flat canal initially) for 10 minutes, you can soon see if this is an activity that would be suitable for your dog. Keep trying to kayak with them little and often and then you will build up your kayaking time. We now go for day trips and Pepper sits most of the way without any issues making our experience far more enjoyable.
For more details and to see it in action, watch this useful video on how to get your dog comfortable and confident in a kayak.
Top Tips! I couldn't kayak with an inflatable without some protection on Pepper's claws as they could pierce the boat. The Sevylor is well equipped and has strong protective material on the exterior from the river bed stones and rocks. I use EQdog's Four Season shoes which are great for extra grip and protection preventing any of these unnecessary accidents! Despite Pepper walking like Bambi in them her first time, she soon got used to them and confidently strutted around the river bank with them.
*I wouldn't recommend kayaking with your dog if you haven't kayaked yourself before. Try it out with just you first then assess if it is time to introduce it to your four legged friend. You could start with a rowing boat (very unlikely to topple over), then a Canadian canoe and gradually downsize - if you want to.