Canoeing with Dogs
When people consider taking a dog on a day out, going canoeing is not something they would consider as a particularly possible or enjoyable day. It sounds like a day that would be filled with stress, capsized canoes and a very wet ride home. However, canoeing with a dog can be a fun and exciting day out, allowing the bond between pet and owner to blossom doing something unusual and rewarding that most people would not consider. If a dog does not like water, then canoeing may be inadvisable; different dogs have varying temperaments and will react differently to canoeing, although a surprisingly large number will enjoy it!
Getting Accustomed to the Canoe
Initially your dog will need to get used to climbing in and out of the canoe before getting close to the water. The easiest way to do this is to coax them in and out with treats; once they are comfortable with the canoe, you can tie it firmly at the dock and repeat the same process that you did on land – coax your dog in and out of the boat, praising them each time they do so successfully. Once your dog seems comfortable with this, try getting into the boat yourself and coaxing your dog in after you; once your dog is in, rock the boat gently to allow the movement to become familiar; if the dog remains calm, more praise and treats are in order, and you’re basically ready to begin.
Safety in the Water
First and foremost is safety; not only personal safety, but also keeping your dog safe to avoid any unecessary accidents or expensive trips to the vet. Even if your dog is a naturally strong swimmer, it may still be a good idea to get a doggy lifejacket, just in case of exhaustion swimming against currents or against general dangers in the water that may be completely unseen. Another top tip here; never leash your dog to the canoe. If a leash is necessary, keep it held firmly under your foot, meaning the dog will not be trapped or dragged along with a canoe if it should capsize, especially if the river that you’re canoeing in has a lot of currents that could drag the canoe away. One final reminder: if you have pet insurance, be sure that you will be covered for this kind of activity with your dog; injuries can happen and it is better to be safe than sorry. Also, be sure you bring a big blanket and towel specifically for your dog, as you do not want it getting cold and becoming ill this way, especially not over a situation that could have been avoided.
Keeping Your Dog Comfortable
Can you imagine sliding around uncontrollably in the bottom of your canoe? It isn’t a pleasant thought, and your dog doesn’t want to experience it either. The bottom flooring of most canoes is finished with a slick coating; therefore, unsuitable for dogs. If possible, find a piece of plywood to elevate a section of the canoe floor for your dog, fixing a piece of thick carpeting or similar material to it that your dog will be able to grip and dig their claws into. This will allow them to feel safer and more comfortable in the canoe. The reason for attempting to elevate this area is so that your dog will not need to sit in the water that will inevitably build up in the bottom of the canoe.
Taking your dog canoeing can be a brilliant new experience that can hopefully be enjoyed by both dog and owner alike. It is a great way to build more trust with your companion and can add a whole new dimension to a relaxing canoe ride along a river.