Dog owners are known for enjoying the company of their pooches and most dogs hate sitting at home by themselves when their family goes out. Although it may take work, teaching your dog to canoe with the family can be very rewarding.
The first step is to get your dog used to the water. For some dogs this comes naturally and for some dogs this will never be considered fun. Some of this has to do with the breed and some of it has to do with how they were introduced to water. A good way to introduce a dog to water is to purchase a child size wading pool and let him play around it until he gets used to it. Then slowly teach him to get in and play in the water. When transitioning to the open water try to find a beach area so that they can play in the shallow end before learning to swim out farther. It isn’t necessary for your dog to love the water to canoe, but they must have a familiarity with it and an ability to make it to shore safely.
The second step is to get your dog used to the canoe. Let them jump in it on the ground. Put their favorite toy in there and let them jump in to play with it. Reward them when they go in with a tasty treat. Maybe put them in there and give them a kong filled with peanut butter. This is much like training a dog to love their crate. To make your canoe dog friendly it is important to make them feel secure. One way to do this is to put a non-slip bath mat on the bottom of the canoe so that they have a more secure footing.
There are many things to remember when taking a dog canoeing. One important thing is a leash. If they are prone to jumping in and out but you would prefer they don’t, having them attached to you will allow you to control them easier. Also, many areas where you will be docking will require that your dog is leashed. Another thing to remember is that just like people need water when they are out canoeing, your dog will need a lot of water as well. An added benefit is that by giving him water from home he is less likely to drink the lake water. Don’t forget to bring a bowl as well. Another thing you may want to bring is a ball. If you do allow your dog into the water this will give them something to play with. There are many floating balls available at pet stores and in pet departments at local stores.
One other thing to consider is a dog lifejacket. These too require training. Most dogs are not used to having clothes on and may resist this at first, but there are many benefits. First, lifejackets help keep a dog warm on cold days by providing insulation, but cool on hot days by retaining cool water. Another benefit is that the life jacket will allow a tired dog safety in the water. Sometimes dogs keep going even after they are well worn out. If they get far away and then realize they are tired it may be too late. Also, the life jackets usually have a handle of sorts that will help you lift your dog back into the boat if they fall out.
Once you are ready to venture out to the water it is important to take it slow. Every owner knows that a good dog is a tired dog. It is best to take a long walk and wear out your dog before heading into the boat. They will be a lot less active and more willing to stay still.
The first trip should be close to land so that if your dog isn’t doing well you can easily turn around. Also, if you tip you are closer to the shore. Before heading out you should let them walk around the boat and then try to get them to settle down. Make sure to give your dog a lot of rewards (praise or treats) to reinforce their good behavior. They will probably find a preferred place in the boat. It may be in the front of the boat where it becomes narrower giving them a more secure sense or it might be right at your feet. Once out a little ways you can practice having them jump out of the boat and getting back in. As with all things, practice makes perfect.
By implementing all these steps dogs will quickly learn the tricks to tip-free canoeing. It shouldn’t be expected that a dog will learn right away, but with a little practice, and some treats, dogs can be great canoe partners. What better way to spend time with your best friend than a day in the boat!
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