It takes me by surprise when people are shocked that I go kayaking with my dogs. (Luna & Jed) I go everywhere with my dogs. I do many things with them. If I could, I would bring them everywhere with me. To the store, to the bank, to my work, mini golfing.... you name it. EVERYTHING would be 10 times funner with my dogs. When I'm outdoors, they are usually right by my side experiencing the same things I experience.
They also love it! Luna loves to be captain of the kayak or sometimes a stand up paddle board. She loves standing on the bow of the kayak and smell all the smells. I think it is one of her happy places. Jed is a little anxious when it comes to water in general, but he loves it! He'll happily jump in the kayak, but he whines the whole time. I think that's his way of realeasing his anxious and excited Jack Russell Terrier energy. If I had that much energy stored in my tiny body, I think I would whine all day too.
I get a lot of questions about kayaks and kayaking with dogs. Here is how I make sure my pups are ready to hit the kayak with me.
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1. Life Vests with Handles
I have some great Life Vests that I picked up at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. They are Outward Hound Dog Gear and were about $15 each. Not a bad price for Dog Life Vests if you ask me. You can also get the on amazon here. I like them especially because they do work well when the dogs fall in the water unexpectedly, and the handle allows me to grab them and pull them back in the boat easily. It also helps to keep the sun off of them during the really hot months.
2. Water Bowls/Fresh Water
This is a necessity in the hot Arizona sun. Bring plenty of water for yourself AND your pups. It's a mistake I've made many times and I have to share my water with them. Bringing extra is the way to go. Believe me. It is super important to give your pups clean water because of bacteria and parasites that could be found in a lot of Arizona lakes and rivers. Plus, kayaking is a tiring sport, especially if you are captain of the boat and balance at the bow of the kayak for hours.
I'll bring some food or treats as a little pick me up for myself and for my pups. While paddling for hours, its easy to loose track of time and forget lunch. Having some snacks there for me gives me that burst of energy I need, and having treats for them does the same.
MUST have towels! I have two really HUGE towels from Costco that I absolutely love! I put them in the kayak to allow the dogs to have a dry spot to sit on or dry them off if they get wet and it's cold out. I also keep some in the car to keep wet things on after paddling, and to allow the pups to lay on them for the drive back home. Towels are amazing! I would like to get some highly absorbent camp towels for future trips.
5. Dog Sweater/Rain Jacket (For Luna)
Luna is a tough little Jack Russell, but once in awhile the elements take their toll on her little body. She has Valley Fever (a con to living in the dry SouthWest) and easily gets sick if she's cold for too long. It's important to keep her dry and warm, so this is a must for the times I find myself far from shore when it starts getting dark.
*I think it's also very, very important to bring up hypothermia here. Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature. Just like you and I, dogs can also get hypothermia. It's actually easier for them to get it more than us because they are smaller and have a higher internal temperature than us. It's important to keep an eye on your pup and make sure they are staying warm. Signs of hypothermia in dogs are shivering, lethargy, pale and white gums, lack of mental awareness, muscle stiffness, and slow breathing. If you experience your dog having hypothermia, immediately get them to a dry warm area and raise their body temperature. Kayaking in Arizona doesn't have any huge danger for hypothermia, but if there is colder temperatures involved or snow, please educate yourself on hypothermia and what to do. It never hurts to be more knowledgeable in first aid. Better to be safe than sorry. :)
Getting around by water can also come with many unknowns. The great thing about kayaking is that you can get around to a lot of places that you normally wouldn't be able to by car or foot, so it's always safe to have the pups leashes with me just in case there is wildlife or other dogs. It's also nice to have their leashes around for when it's time to take down or put up the kayaks.
A great leash tip: Buy a carabiner to put on the end of your leash and it enables you to easily and quickly tie your dog to a tree, pole, or other object.
Rope has been super helpful and it's one of the most used items I use while kayaking. I use it for a makeshift run for the dogs if I need to. I use it to tow things behind the kayak. Also, it's nice to have extra rope just in case I need extra tie downs for tying the kayaks down to the car. It's endlessly useful.
8. Waterproof/Water Resistant Speaker
I am obsessed with my Turtle Shell Speaker. It is only water resistant, but so far so good. I am looking into Waterproof brands. If you know of any good ones, please let me know in the comments.
Having a Premium Spotify account is a great way to make a kayaking playlist, download it beforehand, and play music without using any phone data.
This one is pretty self explanatory. An Otterbox is a good way to keep my phone and electronics extra safe and dry. I bring my phone to take pictures & videos, social media, play music, have in case of emergencies, look at weather, and tons of other things. Plus, I can't afford to miss a good memory with the pups.
10. Waterproof Bag/Dry Bag
Another self explanatory thing to have in the kayak. I use mine ALL the time for my camera gear, electronics, and other things. It's been one of the best investments for paddling.
Keep in mind, dry bags are not 100% waterproof, but they do a good job keeping things dry for the most part. If you want to be extra secure go for the PVC Bags. They are completely waterproof and submersible up to a certain number of feet/meters. I like them because they do float for awhile because when they close they compress air into them.
11. Head Lamp
Kayaking is fun and while having fun, it's easy to loose track of time. Sometimes I just decide to stay out on the water until sundown because I'm having so much fun! I bring my headlamp and extra batteries every single time I go anywhere outdoors because I know I'll need it most of the time. If I'm enjoying the water during sunset, I will be out on the water until the sun goes down. Having light helps a lot when paddling in the night, which is an amazing thing by the way. There are laws that require you to have lights on your kayak, front and back. Look at your local boating and recreational laws before deciding to kayak at night.
12. Basic Pool Bed Floaty Thing (Rain/Water Protector)
While not necessary, it has been one of those things that I bring every time just out of pure functionality. It's waterproof and keeps all my things dry when water gets in the kayak and runs to the back. When paddling, its inevitable to get water pooling up in the kayak and it usually pools up where the kayak slants down. I usually bring my backpack with a hydration bladder and gear. It usually always used to get wet, until I made a makeshift pouch out of the pool bed floaty to rest my bag on.
If anyone can think of anything else I didn't put on this list, let me know in the comments!