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Paddling With Your Dog

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canoe-with-dog-hornbeck-boats

Is your dog a Good Fit?

It is best to have your dog sitting in front of you as you paddle. This way you can see if the dog moves suddenly or jumps  into the water. 

A dog should fit comfortably with you in the boat.  Large breeds can take up too much space and really effect the trim of the boat. Should the dog or paddler move off-center, the boat could capsize.  The dog should be able to move around without interfering with paddling.

 

Some dogs fear water. Others are too excitable to sit still. Some take the opportunity to get as much in your lap as possible making it difficult to paddle. A dog is hard to get back into the boat should they jump out. A rambunctious dog needs some training.

Is your Boat a Good Fit?

When selecting a watercraft that's perfect for you and your furry friend, we recommend starting with 

a stable and wide boat. Dogs love standing on the gunwales and turning around, so make sure there is enough room for both you and your pet to paddle safely. If you have a small to medium-sized dog, then a variety of boats will work just fine. However, if you have a larger breed dog such as a Labrador or German Shepherd, then the boat's balance will be more affected. If you have too much weight in the front of your boat, it can cause it to plow through the water, making it difficult to steer. You can counter this by adding weight to the other end of the boat or shifting the paddler's location, like in our DOG PACKAGE. We recommend having your dog sit in front of you while you paddle so that you can keep an eye on them in case they move or jump into the water. Some boat configurations are more suitable for canoeing and kayaking with dogs than others, so it's always a good idea to bring your furry friend to try out the boats. Additionally, keep in mind the boat's material; aluminum canoes can get quite hot and noisy, which can be unpleasant for your pet. Providing a pad, such as a yoga mat or sleeping pad, can increase your furry friend's comfort, leading to a higher chance of them settling in and enjoying the ride.

Bring your dog!

Visit us and Demo boats with your pup 

Training

Start with training on land. One bad experience on the water early in their training and they will never get in a boat again. Start slow and you will have a paddling companion for life

01

Land Training

I recommend starting with training the dog on dry land. Have the dog jump in and out of the boat. Work on commands like sit and stay. Get it the boat with the dog and see how it will affect your paddling space.

02

Shore Training

Find a nice shoreline and repeat the exercises with the boat fully floating while you support it. If that goes well, enter and exit the boat yourself trying before the dog gets in and after the dog is already in the boat to see what works best. Although it is temping, focus on shore work only instead of jumping right into a paddle trip.

03

Water training

For the first trip on the water, leave fishing gear at home to focus on the dog’s comfort. Choose a calm day and find sheltered water.  Maintain a close proximity to shore and keep the trip short. Note how the dog affects stability and maneuverability. Discourage the dog from jumping out of the boat. If the dog ends up in the water, rescue is difficult.

TIPS
TO KEEP YOU AND YOUR DOG SAFE ON THE WATER

  • No matter how much planning and training you do, things happen. Here are some tips to keep both of you safe out on the water:  

  • Be confident with your own paddling skills before you bring your dog along. You don't want to struggle with your boat at the same time you're struggling with your dog! Choose quiet, calm water with an easy launch site for your maiden voyage, especially—and even for your first few trips out on the water. Consider staying on shallow water at first, in case your dog insists on jumping overboard.

  • In the beginning, the fewer the distractions from other people, boats and dogs, the better!

  • Choose a time of day and location when fewer people will be at the launch and out on the water. This will help you be able to focus on your dog, and your dog focus on you.

  • Even if your dog is a good swimmer, have it wear a dog life jacket. It helps provide warmth in cold water, it has a handle to help you lift your dog out of the water and back onto your boat, and it's brightly colored so other boaters will see your dog when swimming.

  • Practice paddling etiquette—don’t allow your dog to bark. Not only will barking annoy other boaters, but it’ll also harass any local wildlife. Don’t tempt your pup by getting close to loons or ducks.

  • Have a standard routine for your dog when getting in and out of the boat.

  • Don't allow your dog to get in or out before you tell it to. A routine will increase your dog's comfort level, especially in new situations like a different boat or a new launch site.

  • Keep a short leash with you. Use the leash both for getting to your launch site and while in the boat  Don't leash your dog to the boat. This could be dangerous if they jump out or you capsize. 

  • Bring drinking water and bowls for your pups in the boat. 

  • Your dog drinking lake water from the boat can be hazardous for your stability.

  • Keep First Aid supplies for your dog in your own First Aid kit.

  • It's not usual to come across broken glass and other hazards on the shore. Be ready for any accidents with basic supplies in a dry bag.

  • If you have an extra-active dog, try to tire it out first, either with a trip to a dog park or a brisk walk. 

  • Stop frequently so your dog can relieve themself and stretch their legs. 

  • Your dog can’t tell you if they're hot or cold, but if they start panting heavily go to shore and allow them to swim and cool off. On a cold day, keep the trip short or take breaks to let them run around on shore and warm up.  

  • Have patience. It can take time for dogs to get used to the new experience of being on the water.

  • Have a spot that's theirs. Just like in your house they have a spot that they can go to be comfortable, give them the same consideration in a boat.

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The Dog Package

a modification to any of our boats that allows you to move the seat forward or backward to balance the canoe.

Check out the best boats for you and your fury friend
lightweight-packboat-10-classic

The Classic

User-friendly, stable boats that are well-suited for all your paddling needs.

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