By Dawn Celapino
August 3, 2011 (San Diego’s East County)--Who says the only thing you can do with your dog is take him or her on a run/walk? Kayaking is a fun thing to do on a hot day with your dog, especially if your dog enjoys the water.
Kayaking is a great workout for you and if you allow Fido to get out and swim, it is a great cross training workout for him/her as it is will cool him/her off—and it’s easy on the joints. Even if your dog does not "like" the water -most dogs will enjoy being with you and taking in all of the sights and smells the water has to offer. But notice that I said "most dogs", some dogs are not good at sitting still and they get very anxious in the kayak. There are a few things that you may want to do before you hit the water.
1/ Get a portable floatation device, or PFD (http://www.ruffwear.com/dog_life_jackets) for you dog. Yep! They make them for dogs! There are a few reasons that Fido should wear one while in the kayak even if your dog can swim. First, if Fido falls or jumps out and is scared, the PFD will hold him/her up until you can get to your dog. Second, there is a handle on the top for easy "pickup" back into the kayak or onto the dock. Third, if your dog is too big to pick up, then you can at least have something to hold onto to steer him/her in the right direction.
2/ Have Fido sit in the kayak while on the dock and get familiar with it. Move it around a little and show that there is nothing to fear. This is also a great time to see if a one-man or tandem kayak will work better for you and Fido. Some big dogs need a tandem kayak in order for you to be able to paddle while the dog lays in the kayak.
3/ Start out in flat water. Taking Fido in the ocean or a fast river is not a good idea on the first time out. Start out in a lake, pond or bay where the water is calm. If Fido does fall or jump out, then he/she can swim to shore. Plus it will be less work for you while you and your dog get used to paddling together.
4/ Don't take Fido out when you are alone. Go with someone else in case you need help. Some dogs get very nervous in the kayak so it may take a tandem kayak team to keep the dog calm until he/she get acclimated.
5/ If you are a couple and have one dog, you may want to both be in the same kayak. Many dogs will want to keep jumping out to be with the other person. No need to create further anxiety for your dog. Keep the whole family together for your kayak adventure!
A dog that has good obedience training will do well in a kayak. Your dog should know sit, down, stay and leave it. If there is something that catches your dog’s eye--you don't want him/her to dash off of the kayak after it. Your dog should be able to follow your commands for a more rewarding and relaxing experience.
Leash Your Fitness leads group kayak outings in the summer months. We have had up to 22 dogs on one trip. We kayak on Mission Bay where the water is calm. Our kayak adventure takes us to Fiesta Island where the dogs can get out and run around and play and then we kayak back. We have someone meet us on the island with a vehicle just in case one of the dogs is not taking to kayaking, we ride them back in the car. We have had to do this on more than one occasion so it is a good back up plan to have. Our next outing is on August 20th at 2 - 4ish p.m. and then we go out for fish tacos on the water! We hope that you can join us! View pictures of our last adventure out on the water. http://www.leashyourfitness.com/blog/?cat=15
Dawn Celapino is a personal trainer and owner of Leash Your Fitness, the only workout company in San Diego where your dog is your workout partner. www.Leashyourfitness.com