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Paddling safety with your dog

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Paddling has been a popular trend in recent years, due in large part to the convenience and lower cost of inflatables. However, since the 2020 pandemic, interest has increased as people look for outdoor recreational activities to do near their home. The ability to take your dog for a paddle makes it even more attractive.

Paddling with a dog on board might look easy, but whether your outing is a success or a debacle depends on how well you understand and prepare for the risks and challenges. To help you paddle your pup safely, keep these seven tips in mind:


1. Paddle within your ability. Paddling a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard can seem easy, and the excitement of getting on the water with your furry friend can make you underestimate how difficult it can be. Weather and water conditions can change quickly, and you need to know what to do when things go wrong.

Make sure you are adequately trained and have experience paddling your boat before attempting a dog. Paddling with a dog on board requires more skill, strength and endurance than paddling alone.

Depending on your dog’s size, you may need to expend a lot more energy to deal with extra weight, wind resistance, sudden weight shifts, and help your dog back onto the vehicle. Additionally, a dog can distract your attention from danger or cause you to make unplanned stops along difficult coastlines.

2. Paddle within your dog’s abilities. What is the biggest challenge for your dog’s behavior on a paddle boat? I asked this question on a social media group for people who paddle with dogs and each answer was related to the dog being overexcited by the environment or stressed by the experience. Their dogs were unable to relax and settle down, and many struggled to keep their dogs from jumping in the water to swim, hunt wildlife, or meet other paddlers nearby (and each other to join them on their craft). Many dogs did not respond well to instructions, especially when called.

Don’t let your desire to bring your dog with you affect your ability to accurately judge whether your dog is a good passenger. A distracted dog can harm itself, you, and others. If you or your dog needs rescue, these attempts can be further hampered if your dog is afraid of or afraid of strangers.

You need excellent verbal control over your dog in a high distraction environment. Are you sure your dog can make a reliable recall in an environment that includes proximity to wildlife, a body of water, and objects such as toys (things floating in the water)? If you need a leash or other training / management tool to control your dog, he is not ready to come along on a paddle. (To prepare or test your dog’s preparation, try all of the “dry land training” exercises described on pages 22-23.)

Is Your Dog Physically Capable? Your dog will need a good level of muscle strength and stamina to balance the craft and get back out of the water. Water and weather conditions can put additional stress on your dog.

Will your dog really enjoy the experience and be able to settle down? Stress – even “happy stress” – can make a dog more prone to dehydration, hypothermia, heat exhaustion / stroke, and shock. Therefore, you should be able to read your dog’s subtle stress signals to monitor your pet for early signs of stress and mild pain.

3. Learn first aid for pets. The most obvious risk to your dog is drowning. It is therefore important that you know how to give mouth-to-snout CPR and artificial respiration.

Perhaps less obvious, but just as dangerous are the risks of dehydration, hypothermia, heat exhaustion / stroke, and shock, especially for puppies, elderly or unhealthy dogs, very small dogs, or brachycephalic breeds. You need to know what signs to look out for, how to provide emergency assistance and what not to do, such as: B. If you cool a dog too quickly.

4. Watch out for possible water hazards. Common water hazards include sharp debris along the coast (clams, rocks, glass, fish hooks, etc.), debris (pollution, blue-green algae), and large rocks, branches, or debris near the surface. In some areas, wildlife can pose a threat to your dog, and some predators may attempt to snatch your dog from the vehicle. A lesser known but very real danger is water poisoning / salt water toxicity, especially if your dog likes to drink from water, bite or take it into the water. Ingesting too much water is life threatening, and symptoms can be easily misdiagnosed or dismissed with fatal consequences for your dog.

5. Use a dog life jacket. Even if your dog is an excellent swimmer, a well-fitting dog life jacket that is suitable for their weight is essential for both your dog’s safety and your own – as a medium to large dog who is struggling to stay afloat , can drown a person.

A life jacket also provides some protection from the sun, rain, and cold, and gives you something to hold on to if you need to help your dog get back into the vehicle. Many dog ​​life jackets have a top handle for this purpose. Make sure you spend time conditioning your dog so you can wear the dog’s life jacket before attempting to use it on the water.

6. Bring basic pet safety information with you. What you want to take with you on the vehicle depends on how long you plan to be on the water and how far you are from your vehicle. Make sure you pack the items in a good quality stuff sack. You should have a bottle of fresh water for your dog (and a container for your dog to drink from). Letting your dog drink from the body of water is not advisable, and a bottle of clean water can also be used to flush debris from a wound.

A dry towel for your dog can also be very useful as protection from the sun or cold, and a wet towel can help keep your dog cool gently (e.g. when treating heat exhaustion / heat stroke)

There is a high risk of paw pad injury from debris along the shoreline. It is therefore a good idea to bring a self-adhesive bandage for rudimentary first aid treatment until you can take your dog to the veterinary clinic. Dog shoes may be an option for your dog, just make sure they don’t interfere with your dog’s balance or swimming ability. Just in case, you should also bring emergency information such as the address and phone number of the closest veterinary clinic and an emergency whistle.

For longer or longer distance paddling trips, consider including more pet first aid items, such as: E.g .: (but not limited to):

• Small bottle of sterile saline solution for rinsing dirt particles from the eyes or a wound

• Extra bottle of clean water

• Disinfectant wipes

• Dog-safe antihistamine for allergic reactions

• Peroxide, to induce vomiting

• Emergency ration of dog food in case you are stranded or delayed.

7. Use a leash (but not by the water). The shoreline may have sharp stones, shells, broken glass, fish hooks, etc. Keeping your dog close by on a leash until you board the vehicle can reduce the chances of your dog injuring a paw. A leash can also be useful in emergency situations and during unplanned stops. So be sure to bring them with you even if you don’t think your dog needs them.

Once on the water, remove your dog’s leash and store it safely. A leash can become entangled in equipment and limbs (yours and your dog’s), and become entangled on objects while dragging in the water. never Tie your dog to the paddle boat, you, or any other object as your dog may get tangled or dragged underwater and cannot come loose. If your dog needs a leash to behave well on the water, your dog isn’t ready to come along just yet.





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