Canine Kayak Training 101

This summer I bought a truck, which then lead to a kayak rack for my Old Town Dirigo 120. So of course then next step would be dog training. Tris had never been “on” the water just in it, so I knew it might be tricky to get her to trust the kayak to keep her afloat. So before our first day out in August, I dumped some biscuits into the cockpit and let her figure out how to get to them. She craned her neck, timidly stuck in a paw, and before you knew it she was in, and quickly out, with a biscuit in her mouth. She hoped around like a kangaroo grabbing them all and I continued to praise her bravery. The next time I sat in the kayak; still in the garage. I put the biscuits in the bottom of the cockpit again and coaxed her into my lap. Luckily the Dirigo 120 has a long enough deck that she can fit in-between my legs in a sit position with plenty of room. We did the sitting for a few minutes with me feeding and praising her. Finally I knew the kayak might rock when I did a deep dip with my paddles, so I got her into the kayak, in a sit, and hugged her with my knees as I purposefully tipped it side to side. She wanted none of it at first, however with treats present she found a way to endure.


The big day had finally arrived. I had packed and secured everything the night before, and around 6:30 we headed for Hedges Pond. It was completely deserted. Which was perfect. If she capsized us I really didn’t want an audience. Once in the shallows I stepped into the cockpit first, and tapped the edge for her jump in. She jumped alright, but behind me on top of the deck hatch. She had great balance, I really was impressed, but it wasn’t the safest way to head out onto the water. So back down into the water she went, then I hauled her in, got her seated, and we were off. She figured it out almost immediately, and began to just enjoy watching the ripples in the water, and peering down into the depths. Eventually we were out in the center of the pond and I just idled. It was glassy, slightly foggy, and the sound of birds was everywhere. She loved watching it all. The sun was rising as we headed back to the shore. After a quick hyper run around the beach we were on our way home, passing a couple more (land) dogs along the way.

It was a great first trip with the greatest dog on the planet.


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