• By Lou
  • July 24, 2015






Lou Racine

Author: Dog Paddling With Tiny: A Guide To Kayaking With A Dog!


kayak dogOur dogs’ lives are so overly controlled by us right from the start! We start by choosing which pup to take home or which stray can stay.  We chose their housemates, toys, food, dog bed, blankets, jackets if they need them, when they will go to the park, when and how they will meet up and interact with other animals… We have almost full control over the dog before the training even starts!

In this human orientated world, the dog isn’t always going to know what is best for its overall well being, and because we put it in its current position, it is our responsibility to make those choices for it. However, it’s not fair to make those decisions that might be better left to the dog! What quality of life does a dog have when all, or most, of its choices are being made for it?

In our human lives, we have restrictions placed upon us.  We have to do things like work or have some way of making a living. Our children must be home schooled or attend school.  Our finances limit our choices and our choices sometimes limit future choices; for example, starting a family might remove the ability to do some things that would have been possible before going down that road. Even within these limitations, we have choices that we make on a daily basis, and these decisions help form and reinforce our individuality and our ability to grow and prosper.  These daily choices strongly influence our happiness and well-being!

dog snackAll, or most of our choices, are not made for us; we can choose within limits what to eat, what to wear, to get ready for work early or rush around in the last minute, ride with a friend or go alone, run before work, play golf after, play hooky and go to the beach….and avoid or include what we like and don’t like.

Now, try to imagine a much different world where you live in a home where someone has made even the most inconsequential decisions for you; you might want a computer or Iphone, but you were given a library of books instead.  You get 2 or 3 different types of food given to you on a rotating schedule, and you hate very 3rd day because that’s some kind of meal that you can’t even decipher the origin.  You love to go in the car and see new places; but, everyone comes and goes more often than they take you along.  The housemate that you’re left with while they’re gone is a real pill; you didn’t choose them, nor did they choose you, for that matter.  So you sit and look at your library of books, while wishing for an Iphone, until you drift off to sleep, waiting for someone- anyone, to come home!

With this in mind, realize this is the life being experienced by many dogs!  Granted they aren’t wishing for an Iphone; but, they might destroy a few books or shoes while wishing for something else! When we bring them into our lives, we are responsible for their well being and that includes training as well as helping to foster their mental and emotional growth as individuals.  What quality of life exists in an environment where choices are limited to only those made by someone else?  Every living-thinking being should be given the right to make some decisions for themselves–even our dogs!

Learn how to kayak with a dog!

Sometimes allowing a dog to be in control can also enrich our own life experiences as well.  For example, if you’re the type of person who always feels like you must be in control  or X won’t get done right, and at the same time you’re thinking why doesn’t anyone else ever take the lead and relieve some of this pressure? Why is it always me that has to step up?  You can start by practicing giving up some of that control with your dog.  It might seem very strange and uncomfortable at first; but, your dog is probably the safest place to start letting go of your grip on control! Even if this doesn’t describe you, ocassionally giving up control to your dog can be a very positive and fun thing to do for both of you.

Some examples of how I allow Tiny the right to choose:

We have a dog door with an attached run so that Tiny can decide if he would like to go out and use the facilities, sit or lay in the sun, or watch the horse, donkey, chickens…  Even though we do take him for walks, he doesn’t have to rely on us to get him outside.  He can do this even if we’re sleeping, at work, or otherwise away from home! This gives him the option to decide for himself if he would like to be outside or in 24 hours a day weather permitting.  Tiny’s dog door can be locked to keep him inside during very bad weather.  There are also security dog door options that will allow access to only the very specific dog wearing the entrance collar!  There is literally an option for just about every situation!

Sometimes when I take Tiny kayaking, he’ll get out of the truck and start sniffing around, and instead of making him go directly to the kayaking activity, I follow him on a merry little romp before unloading the kayak and equipment.

Beachdale PondIf I see something has caught his attention while we’re out kayaking, I’ll paddle over so he can see the turtle plop into the water or watch his excitement as we follow a flock of geese.  This can be done while hiking, walking, or biking as well! He’s allowed this option as long as he’s behaving within the parameters previously set for him and I am consistent about what I expect regarding his behavior.

I allow him to choose to be on deck or in the cockpit of the kayak or to rest in my lap because I’ve chosen to take him on kayaking adventures where he is safe enough to make these decisions for himself.

I allow him the right to ask to go ashore, and it might seem remarkable, but he doesn’t over abuse this privileged; he very seldom asks to go ashore except to pee–once on shore and having done his business, he does sometimes explore a little before getting back in.  I usually stay in the kayak and allow him to jump off and back on at the end of a retractable leash.  If he looks like he wants to go farther, and I think it’s safe, I’ll get out of the kayak and go with him to explore more.

Occasionally, I show him more than one snack to see which he chooses.  In this way I can see if he consistently chooses one over the other and rank his opinion of them. He also enjoys making choices at the snack counter an the local pet store!  Admittedly, I don’t bring him down to the store often enough!  This is something we should do more often!

Quinebaug River

Tiny kayaking on the Quinebaug River, Canterbury, CT

There are times when he doesn’t want to get back into the truck after paddling.  It’s as if he’s saying no it can’t be over yet–I often chuckle because I’m reminded of a child being told they must leave the amusement park!  LOL  I try to be random about my response to this behavior to avoid creating any pattern that might result in him demanding we stay.  Yes, sometimes when he wants to stay longer, we do.

At home, I usually enjoy his company; but, sometimes I just don’t feel like having a hot little min pin sitting on my lap on an 85 degree day…but then I think of all the time he spends waiting for me to come home, and the heroes welcome when I walk through the door, and he usually ends up in  my lap or tucked up next to my feet in bed.

It might seem small and inconsequential; but, the freedom to choose is a precious gift that we can give our dogs– and often with little or no cost to us! It’s very import to let our dogs be in control…sometimes!  In doing so, we help foster their individuality and mental well being!

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Five Mile River

Tiny kayaking on the Five Mile River, Danielson, CT

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Article Name
Why Your Dog Should Be In Control...
Our dogs' lives are so overly controlled by us right from the start! We start by choosing which pup to take home or which stray can stay. We chose their housemates, toys, food, dog bed, jackets if they need them, when they will go to the park, when and how they will meet up and interact with other animals... We have almost full control over the dog before the training even starts...

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