Updated: Jul 19, 2019
If you follow me on instagram or even facebook, you have likely seen me post a few photos or maybe even videos of my dogs and I out on the water. I have had so many of you ask how on earth my dogs manage to stay so perfectly on the board or in the kayak and what my tips were for getting your dogs to be able to do the same. So, I thought I would share!
Make sure your dog is comfortable around water!
Oakley LOVES to get in the water and attempt* to swim, whereas Tucker only like to put his paws in and prefers to not fall in. *Oakley is a terrible swimmer, we will get back to that in another post.
If your dog is terrified of water, they might not enjoy this activity or might need some time to build their trust in you and around the water before attempting this.
Tucker's first time on the kayak he was pretty unsure about getting on, but once I was in there and encouraged him, he understood that he wasn't going to be pushed in the water and didn't mind it at all.
If your dog doesn't like to swim, this may actually be to your benefit! They will be easier to keep in the kayak and on the SUP then the dog who wants to swim.
Practice having your dog balance on weird, unstable objects.
My dogs were able to easily get on the paddle board and kayak because we have practiced balancing and staying on things like wobble boards, fit paws equipment and more in the past. You want to be sure your dog doesn't get frightened and try to just jump off. Ease your dog onto these things and use lots of treats and praise along the way.
Practice having your dog stay while you stand over them, sit behind them, and change your positions.
This part can be really easily overlooked. If your dog only practices staying in a sit while you face them and walk backwards away from them, it's very likely that they won't understand it when in a real life setting. When on a kayak, your dog will most likely be sitting in-between your legs and facing the opposite direction. If you're in a double kayak, with two dogs and two people, one dog will have to sit in between your legs in front of you, and one will have to sit in between your partner's legs behind you.
Our first time kayaking was a huge learning experience for us. My husband Nick and I took both dogs into our kayak. Tucker sat in front with me and Oakley sat in back with Nick. We also had a few friends in kayaks with us. We soon found out that Oakley wanted to sit with me and then also visit every single one of our friends. It took some adjusting and training while getting wet in the process.
Now we know that Oakley does best when seated with me, Tucker will happily sit with anyone, and when kayaking with people Oakley knows, I have to be sure to instruct him to stay until released to "go say hi" and visit other people in their kayaks.
Some of these things you won't be able to discover until AFTER you try it, as long as you're willing to get a little wet and have fun with it. ;)
Honestly the first time we went kayaking was a little messy, but I was prepared with some treats, life jackets, and leashes to help my dogs succeed. Once the dogs (EHEM... OAKLEY) knew what was expected of them, we were able to enjoy the rest of the ride.
Oakley had a harder time adjusting because he wanted to swim, chase geese, jump into other people's kayaks, and only sit with me. I simply had to cue him to stay in the kayak, leave the geese alone and only get out on my cue. Once kayaking was easy for us, I attempted SUPing with Oakley alone. I actually had a much easier time with him on this because we had practiced on the kayak a few times.
My first time ever SUPing was with Oakley and my second time ever trying it was with both dogs. Don't be intimidated thinking you can't do it until you're a pro. I'm certainly not a pro! (well... maybe with dogs I am) I don't even bring treats anymore and I unleash the dogs because I trust in our communication skills. If you prepare ahead of time and practice some of the skills mentioned in this post, I think you will be out on the water with your dogs in no time!
Have a question, comment, or thought to share? Please leave a comment or send me a message! I'd be happy to answer it for you.