• By Lou
  • June 27, 2015
  • Comments Off on IS MY DOG AFRAID …OR IS IT ME?

Copyright infor at end/Click to enlarge photos.




Lou Racine

Author: Dog Paddling With Tiny: A GUIDE TO KAYAKING WITH A DOG


kayaking dog

Our dog, Tiny on deck on the Five Mile River in Pineville, CT

I’ve trained and interacted with wild and domesticated animals all my life…so far back that I can’t remember my first interactions with them.  I also grew up surrounded by family members who looked at training animals from a gentle and playful perspective that was not widely thought about or accepted at that time.  I recall how remarkable it was to witness my cousin teaching his cat how to drink milk from a crazy straw.  That experience opened up a whole new world of opportunity and exploration for me–I suddenly believed that if a person could teach a cat to drink milk from a crazy straw, animals could be taught to do extraordinary things!  Of course, I grew into a more mature perspective as I grew older; but, I kept an open mind regarding the idea that animals are a lot smarter than most people give them credit!


Our dog, Tiny, on deck on the Quinebaug River at sunset.

What I’m about to present to you is in regard to kayaking with a dog; however, it can be applied to just about every situation in which a dog is experiencing something new.

Very often, animals, like dogs and horses, will mirror the people around them.  Due to this mirroring effect, a dog or horse that appears to be afraid, might simply be mirroring the insecurities and uncertainties of the humans involved.  I’m going to give you an example with a horse because it is both a little funny and also clearly, and directly, demonstrates my point.

A new veterinarian, fresh out of school, came by to give my horse his annual shots.  She arrived with an intern and both walked across the side lawn, chatting with their heads down. After almost running into a riding lawn mower parked on the lawn, both stopped and looked up. The vet then  said, “OMG! He’s huge!” and (and quite unknowingly?) took few steps back.

My once eager and enthusiastic horse, responded by stepping back himself.  He pulled his head back inside the fence and came over and stood behind me.  He mirrored the vet.  Horses and dogs can’t think abstractly; so, this horse was unable to rationalize her reaction and figure out that this person was actually afraid of him. He just new she was afraid and that’s all that mattered.

She finally decided to move towards the fence. At this time she stood back so that when she reached out, only the tips of her fingers could  be reached if the horse extended its head out over the fence–maybe.  My horse once again mirrored her, by moving and extending his head and neck so that only the tip of his nose could be brushed by her finger tips-maybe.


Our dog, Tiny on deck on the Moosup River.

We can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at the behaviors and emotions demonstrated by our pets; but, we must also acknowledge, and accept, that we are affecting their opinion and reactions to new things and situations.  If your dog, or horse, shows apprehension in regard to a new situation or activity, look inside yourself and ask yourself how you honestly view that situation.  If you’re not confident about what you’re about to do, it’s very unlikely that the dog in that new situation is going to be confident and unconcerned.

Sometimes when people say things like “I tried to take my dog kayaking, hiking, running, obstacle training, camping, dock diving–whatever the activity happens to be; but, it was so afraid…I’ll never try that again” they have actually projected their own apprehension and insecurities about the situation onto the dog.  The dog is quite simply mirroring the human’s opinion of the situation! The dog, like the horse in the above situation, mirrors the person’s fear and expectations of the situation; in turn, the person uses the dog’s reaction to validate their own fear of moving ahead in that process.  It becomes circular and without end!

If you find yourself in this situation, please find a professional trainer who can help you out.  If you want to take your dog kayaking or become involved in any other new activity; but, something just seems to stop you from accomplishing that over and over again, consider that these obstacles are based in your own insecurities about the situation and they are not genuine obstacles that can’t be overcome.  Once you feel confident about what you’re about to do, you’ll find less road blocks in your way…

If you would like more information about kayaking with a dog, check out my $6.72 book available on Amazon.com.  Click link below to view details about DOG PADDLING WITH TINY: A Guide To Kayaking With a DogAlso feel free to browse and read the other dog paddling articles found in the “It’s A Dog’s Life” category found in the above menu.

FIVE STAR Amazon Customer Reviews: 

Nancy says, “Best ‘hanging out with your dog’ book EVER! Dog parks are ok, but a guide to spending time with your dog in this environment is simply amazing! Very down to earth and includes many helpful hints on kayaking in general and interacting with animals! The perfect combo! Displays an innate understanding of animals, dogs in particular…Looking forward to whatever comes next for this author – enjoyable reading and I have discovered a new hobby!”

Raine writes, “Well written book and a good read for anybody interested in kayaking! I have kayaked before and was doubtful about buying this book, but it was well worth it and enjoyable to read. Some books like this are blah, blah, blah and just pummel you with facts, this one mixes just the right amounts of facts and other things to make it enjoyable to read rather than a chore to read. Recommend this book to anyone whom is thinking of taking a pet kayaking, or even to anyone just planning on going kayaking without pets.”

Read more FIVE STAR reviews at Amazon.com

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dog in kayak

Our dog, Tiny, lounging in my kayak on Beach Pond in Voluntown, CT

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We can learn a lot about ourselves by looking at the behaviors and emotions demonstrated by our pets; but, we must also acknowledge, and accept, that we are affecting their opinion and reactions to new things and situations. If your dog shows apprehension...

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