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JoAnna Lou
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Kayaking with Dogs
Another way to enjoy the water this summer!

It's finally starting to warm up in the North East and that means the return of all the fun summer activities we've missed. Last season I did a lot of kayaking on my own, but I always hated leaving my pups at home. This year I decided to remedy my dog-less outings!

For Scuttle's first kayaking experience, I chose a local outfitter's doggy trip. The short 2-hour outing was a good introduction and a way to see if Scuttle enjoyed kayaking before subjecting her to a longer trip. The excursion was led by a patient dog lover and included a visit to a sandbar to let the pups run and play. I would definitely recommend contacting your local outdoors company to see if they lead any doggy specific sessions. Our company, Mountain Valley Guides, even provided canine life jackets!

Before heading out on a trip, ideally you'd want to get your dog comfortable with jumping in and out of a kayak, both on land and in water. But most of us don't have access to a kayak for training. You know your dog best, so consider the skills your dog needs to make this trip successful. Scuttle picked this up quickly at the beginning of the outing, but I did find it helpful to have a leave it cue (in case you kayak by some waterfowl!) and to have some practice with balancing skills.

In the weeks leading up to our kayak outing, I worked with Scuttle on a FitPaws inflatable peanut (think a long, dog-sized version of a yoga ball). As crazy as this sounds, it helped a lot with getting her used to unsteady ground. You could also use a wobble/buja board or a dog crate on top of fitness discs. It was cool to see this in action when Scuttle decided to climb on the front of the kayak and had to use some serious balancing skills to scramble back into the cockpit!

As always, when your dog is spending a lot of time swimming, it's important to re-familiarize yourself with the symptoms of water intoxication.

Stay safe and have a great time enjoying the water with your pup this summer!

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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