Brock absolutely loves to be outside but as he ages, I have been trying to transition him to activities that are geared more toward low impact. This spring I started casually looking for a kayak so Brock can go on more adventures and continue to live life to the fullest.
As someone who hasn't been in a kayak much at all, it was a fairly overwhelming process to start out. There are a few articles online about how to kayak with a dog, however, everyone's opinion varies slightly. There are multiple factors depending on where you plan on going, your comfort level and how big your dog is.
We live a couple of miles from a pond so finding something I could load and unload myself was top of the priority list. Brock is around 100lbs so I knew it was crucial that I had something big enough to accomodate "two people". This made me start leaning more towards a kayak as they are typically lighter than your average canoe.
I am thankful my neighbors have a few different options at their house and we were able to try out a couple options for Brock and what we felt safe with! One piece of advice I will give while getting your dog used to being out on the water is to do a few small little trips around the body of whater you are using. Come back to shore often and give a lot of praise! If you are nervous, they will feel that tension and will also show signs of being nervous!
I started out by getting Brock comfortable. I walked him around for awhile so he could learn how to balance some. He tends to be a dog that leans a lot which shifts a lot of weight when you are his size! This did require Brock to dump himself out a couple of times which helped immensely with his balance. I would load him back in after, bring him back to shore, let him unload and collect himself and start again with a lot of praise. Once I got him used to being on the water, we got into my neighbor's tandem kayak to see how he would do on a slightly longer trip.
One of my biggest fears was triggered by the the fact that I am not that great at swimming. Brock absolutely loves the water so I was nervous he would try to bail out over the side of a canoe or kayak. Thankfully, we only had a couple of cases where he was trying to check the water out and he is very easy to correct. He also isn't much of an actual swimmer, more of a dog that likes to roll around in the shallow water to cool off.
Remember, it is a law in the state of Maine that you must have a life vest with you while kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, boating etc. If you are under the age of 10, it must be worn at all times. I picked up this really nice life vest made by Old Town Canoe this summer from Kittery Trading Post! It offers an air comfort system, a half back panel to work with high kayak seats, has a women's fit AND has fleece lined warmer pockets!
I also recommend picking up a life vest for your dog! Brock has a larger hand me down but could also use the floatation built into his Barkbrite pack I bought him. (You can't get a better pack for the money in my opinion!)
I will say, the best experience I had at a local shop was at Ski Rack in Bangor! Brock is well behaved so they offered to let me bring him in so we could check out how much space we had in some of their inventory and to get a feel for weight etc. They offer a few sales throughout the year so you can score great deals on some of their canoes and kayaks! After looking around at local shops and trying to find a good deal, Matt (Brock's dad) surprised us with a barely used kayak that is absolutely PERFECT for us ❤️ We are so blessed 🥰
The kayak that works the best for us and probably most who have a larger dog is a fishing style "sit on" kayak. The fishing kayaks tend to be a little wider which helps with feeling balanced and sturdy. You really have to rock this kayak to feel like you might flip it over. Sit in's can also be an issue with larger dogs because if you do flip it over, you will have to swim trying to hold the dog and kayak as it is hard to get the water out of the cockpit area.
I knew that a 10 foot kayak was going to be very snug to try to keep both of us in so I have a 12 foot Proangler made by Ozark which is a Walmart brand. The features of this kayak are great! It has a fairly flat footwell area which is convenient and makes it easy for Brock to lay down comforatbly. It features a nice adjustable seat and has an area for storage behind the seat in the stern area so I can bring a cooler with me if I want to.
We are still working on becoming better paddlers but overall, I think I have found another activity that Brock truly enjoys! I love to get us outside so we can enjoy the great outdoors together! Are you looking to get into kayaking with your dog? It is very inexpensive (after intial gear purchases) and relaxing! Sunsets on the water with your dog can't be beat!
If you have questions about kayaking with your dog, or would like help trying to get started please shoot me a message! I will share with you what I have learned so far!
Happy paddling! -Amanda
“𝕆𝕟𝕖 𝕨𝕒𝕪 𝕥𝕠 𝕘𝕖𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕞𝕠𝕤𝕥 𝕠𝕦𝕥 𝕠𝕗 𝕝𝕚𝕗𝕖 𝕚𝕤 𝕥𝕠 𝕝𝕠𝕠𝕜 𝕦𝕡𝕠𝕟 𝕚𝕥 𝕒𝕤 𝕒𝕟 𝕒𝕕𝕧𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕦𝕣𝕖.” – 𝕎𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕚𝕒𝕞 𝔽𝕖𝕒𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕣