I recently posted a picture of my dog Bracha kayaking with me. It received a lot of comments and likes and many wished they could do that or said, “I can get my dog in the kayak he just won’t stay.” It can be done, it simply comes down to control and obedience.

I first took Bracha kayaking last year when she started swimming and following me as I paddled away from shore. It occurred to me that she may like to go for a ride? So I paddled back to shore and told Bracha “hup”. Hup is my command for jump in but you could also use place if your dog already knows place.

So I get her in the kayak, told her down, and off we went. She seem to thoroughly enjoy her kayak ride. Now every time we go to the lake I make sure she gets a little Daddy time on the kayak. She does really well, but you need to understand her obedience is really good.   I have off leash reliability and a solid place command. If I say down she downs even with distractions.

It takes a lot of time, consistency, and perseverance when training dogs to the level where you can take them kayaking, hiking, and other off leash activities. I start with the basics; sit, down, place, come, and heel all using food reward system. Dog’s that are play driven I use tugs or balls as a final reward. Obedience has got to be fun. If it’s not fun dogs will be depressed and slow to come, sit, down, etc. Have you seen the competitive obedience, agility, or disc events?   It’s obvious that these dogs are having fun!

You can have fun and still have rules and structure because dogs love rules and structure. Once they know the rules they will give 100%. What dogs do not like are gray areas. A gray area is where your dog doesn’t always have to come, when you say come or doesn’t always have to wait at the door. Dogs need consistency in their lives to be happy.

Take the time to teach your dog the basics; sit, down, come, place and have off leash reliability and you will be on your way to having a great time with your dog.

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