KAYAKING WITH YOUR DOG
There is no reason why your favourite canine can’t accompany you on your kayak trips. I have been a kayak fisho for many years, and while I love fishing on my own in secluded stretches of Australian waterways, I always bring Gonzo with me.
Taking your four-legged friend on your fishing trips does involve some extra precaution. Things can go from hunky-dory to pear-shaped pretty quickly, so it’s best to get things right before you set off.
Before you attempt to share your favourite past time with your favourite canine, you will need to ensure your dog understands how things are going to work out on the water. It should be accustomed to taking commands such as sit, and lay down, for when you need it to be flat to the boat with a low centre of gravity.
Your dog should also have the opportunity to get acclimated to sitting on the bow of the kayak outside the water. I let Gonzo explore the kayak on his own in the garden first. Then I sat in it and called him in with me. He seemed relaxed as I stroked him. Once we had sat in it together a few times, we were ready to try it out on the water. We kayaked together around ten times before I ever brought a fishing rod out with me. I wanted to let Gonzo get a feel for how stable the kayak was, and understand what was acceptable kayaking behaviour and what wasn’t. That way, when I started fishing, I didn’t also have to watch Gonzo intently at the front of the yak.
Not all dogs are up for kayaking. Some get nervous around water and simply won’t enjoy it. Don’t force it. If your pooch isn’t comfortable, you won’t be comfortable, so leave him or her at home. You can always try another sport together.
GIVE YOUR DOG A PFD
Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, give it a personal floatation device (PFD). They come with handles on the back, so you can easily and quickly scoop it up and get it back in the boat. They are also often highly visible, so you can see them in choppy water. Gonzo loves his PFD, so much so that I am convinced he often jumps out just for the fun of being scooped back up and thrown back in the kayak.
I also bring a lead attached to a harness. It makes getting him back in far easier. Before I had to manoeuvre the kayak around to scoop him up, but with the lead and harness, I can reel him into the kayak like a big furry trout.
A WORD ON BURNING
While your dog shouldn’t overheat, Gonzo simply goes for a dip if he gets too hot, they can burn. Their noses and bellies are susceptible to sunburn. I usually apply a little bit of kid’s sun lotion to his nose every few hours just to be on the safe side.
Kayaking with your dog is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy your favourite sport and can be done with minimal effort and training. With just a few extra safety precautions you can add a lot of fun to your kayak trips, and you have a ready-made fishing companion that never cries off because of the weather, their family commitments, or because they’re suffering from a hangover.
Is there anything I have missed? Share with everyone below.