Saturday, July 9, 2011

Paddle with a puppy! How do you haul your dog?

Well, here we go. Let's take the big 50 pound puppy to the lake. Where do we put her? On the back deck of my Boreal Baffin.

Why not? It should work, eh?

All these brilliant ideas sound great when you test them out at home with your boat parked on the grass in your front yard while you train the dog to get on to the back deck of your kayak and lay still for a few minutes.
But when I get out on the water with her parked as close to the back of my cockpit as possible for stability, I quickly find out that a 50 pound doggie - this cute blue merle Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix named "Riley", can move a bit, shift her weight, turn her head, whine, and decide to suddenly sit up tall while I'm paddling instead of laying down. Plus the water doesn't sit still either, even on a calm day.

All this makes for a tippy kayak.
This is interesting! A new challenge. 

And this is something we're just having fun with on an warm, sunny day with no wind in a small warm lake we know very well, staying close to shores with mostly sandy bottoms where we launch and land, and the doggie is wearing a PFD - a doggie life jacket, even though she is an excellent and very fast swimmer! And there very few motor boats on this lake. I wouldn't want my dog jumping off and swimming with motorized craft in the area.

We had no expectations for any kind of success. I wasn't paddling alone. I had a paddle partner nearby for help and to watch what the dog was doing behind me, and take a few pics!

If you have taught your doggie to crawl on land, and she can crawl up to the back end of your kayak's cockpit - that's going to totally rock! And your boat may rock less!  
This is not an easy way to carry a dog. Trust me!  

I wouldn't go far and I don't recommend this. 

We were just having some fun for the day on a lazy summer day close to shore. And Riley is probably an exceptional dog. We managed this three times on the same day with Riley getting up on to the back deck of my Boreal Baffin, laying down quietly while I paddled, and waiting until we hit shore to jump off.

We also used encouraging voice commands along the way to keep her in place, happy, and secure. Doggie cookies help sometimes too, but not while paddling. 

I put a wet towel on the back deck of my Boreal Baffin under the bungees to make it softer and less slipperly for Riley to lay on and to allow her to get a good grip with her body. My Boreal Baffin has a flat back deck, and was wide enough to support her body - barely though.

Riley is pretty smart and independent for a one year old dog. I'm a decent paddler with some balance, but I was thinking "I may need to brace or bail out" a few times. But didn't need to.

But, this is definitely a short term thing!

I'm looking for a better boat for hauling a dog, like a stable canoe or a tandem kayak with proper seating!

Some dogs really love going to the lake with you. And I really love taking the doggie along.

Finding a safe and enjoyable way to do it is a new thing for me as a kayaker. I love sea kayaks. I don't like canoes! 
 "OK, we're going to do this again tomorrow, I promise!"
Happy paddling with your dog!
Keep them safe. They are so special!
The BaffinPaddler


  1. Kayaks are definitely easier to get around on. The doggy life jacket is just perfect :)

  2. So cute! And great bracing practice. I recently saw river neighbors out on Hobie Pedal Kayaks, one with a retriever, on with a lab. I think they were using a paddle to catamaran their boats. The dogs were barking, so we didn't get too close. And I've seen folks with smaller dogs. Shrinking Riley probably isn't an option though....

  3. Ha, ha! If anything, Riley will only grow in girth and one day may no longer fit in her doggie life jacket. She loves to eat hamburgers just like us!

  4. Great looking pooch!
    Mind you not all dogs are happy to be on the back of a kayak. Australian Sheppards are rather smart and you can teach them to do just about anything. I taught mine to ride with me on the bike (straddling the top tube and putting her paws on the bottom bracket), riding on a scooter, on a long skateboard or on the back of my skis.
    Then I saw once a boxer getting in a kayak, in the rear hatch, and he fell out half way through the paddle: he fell asleep and lost balance :-)

  5. some sit on tops work well for dogs

    but we have yet to try the dogs on our new Kaskazis

  6. Great pics of paddling with your dogs. I was also happy to see the great life jackets you put on them too. Gotta love them! Dogs love to travel with us.