Set Your Hook: Lily Goes Kayaking

Teaching a Dog to Kayak

This past weekend, I decided to take the EatStayPlay.com mascot dog, Lily, kayaking for the very first time.

Lily Camping

Here's Lily getting the most out of camping: digging and dirty!

Let me just share a few tips I learned on teaching a dog to kayak

  1. Invest in a doggy life-vest. Yes, all dogs can swim — it’s instinctual. But, if they leap out of the boat or kayak in the MIDDLE OF THE LAKE do you really want to rely on instinct and pray they don’t get tired?
  2. Attach a leash to the life vest AND to the kayak. That way if they do make the plunge, it’s easy to reel them back in.
  3. Leave the fishing tackle, camera, lunchbox, etc on shore. You don’t want a squirrely, excited dog AND stuff.
  4. Keep the trip short. If the pooch gets stressed, take Fido back to shore. You want it to be fun, not terrifying.
  5. Pick a calm day, smaller lake and keep it relatively close to shore. Again, make it fun not scary.
  6. If people stress your dog out (love or hate) pick a day with fewer people on shore and on the water.
  7. Don’t have anybody else talk to or call for the dog. Maybe they should stay on shore, or in camp, on in another town. (Or maybe out of sight but close enough to help if needed!)
  8. Bring towels!

So, I’m sure that you’re just DYING to know how I came up with this list, right?

When Code Wolf and I were camping at White Horse Lake last weekend, I decided that it was high-time Lily learned about kayaking. Now, being the do-anything dog that she is, Lily will let me harass her in pretty much any manner I see fit.

Lobster Lily

Remember when I dressed her up as a lobster for Halloween?

So, I put her in her oh-too-cute life vest, left all the goodies on shore – Rule #3 – (hence no pics of the event) and took off.

And I promptly broke Rule #5!

It was a breezy day that went from flat water to little bitty whitecaps. She did okay when it was calm but the second the kayak would start to rock in the breeze… well, Lily couldn’t decide if she wanted to be in my lap or as far from the paddle as possible.

I felt we were just getting the hang of it, slowing paddling around the lake. Then here comes Code Wolf to check on us. Happily, he calls out: “Lily! How ya’ doin’?” (Rule #7 — shattered!)

And Lily jumps out of my kayak and tries to run to him!

Of course, she promptly sinks WAY below the surface and then bobs back up, courtesy of aforementioned oh-so-cute life vest. (Rule #1)

But never fear, I just grab the leash (Rule #2) and haul her in. But when I started pulling on the leash, her head went under again! Once I got her back into the kayak I was practically screaming with laughter.

She took offense to that!

After making a half-hearted attempt to continue on around the lake, I gave it up as a bad job and head back to shore. (Rule #4)

Of course, of COURSE, there were people all over the boat launch fishing. (Rule #6) And Lily doesn’t like kids at the best of times but when she’s cold, wet and suffering the indignity of having jumped into the lake… Lots of loud barking ensued.

Once I had Lily back out of the kayak (I dumped her over the side into tummy-depth-on-a-small-dog water — again, I’ll never be forgiven) I hauled her back to the truck.

Thankfully, I had a towel in there. Don’t ask me why, but at the very least, I was able to comply with Rule #8.

Will I take Lily kayaking again? Absolutely! Will I plan it a bit better? Of course! Will she ever forgive me? Maybe, maybe not!

Readers Weigh In:

  • Do you boat or kayak with your dog?
  • How old was Fido when you started?
  • Tips for teaching an old dog new boating tricks?
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