Written by: Shawn James
Pushing off from shore into the gentle current of a shallow river, the wooden canoe rocks softly as Cali, our four-month-old Golden Retriever, paces from starboard to portside, peering over the sides at her reflection in the water. Confused, she puts her front paws up on the gunwale, staring over the edge calmly until a small stick floats by and it is just too much to resist—she leaps into the water and immediately disappears below the surface. I reach overboard and haul her back into the canoe, amused at the look of surprise on her face.
My wife and I expected exactly this behaviour from Cali on her first outing in a canoe, so we planned accordingly. We were paddling on a calm stretch of river in less than half a metre of water and within a few metres of shore. My wife was in the bow of the canoe, where she could maintain control of the vessel while I concentrated on training. Cali was never in danger—she could have walked to shore in the shallow water—but she already considered the canoe a safe place, so that is where she wanted to return to when she went overboard.
Training your dog to be a good canoeing companion starts long before that your trip into the backcountry.
We first introduced Cali to the canoe in our backyard in winter. She was a little timid at first but loved trying something new. As she leaned on the gunwales, she got used to the gentle movement of the canoe. She felt safe and happy.
When spring came, we headed out for our first on-water training session. As described previously, we had planned this excursion to be in shallow, calm water, as we had anticipated that Cali would be full of wonder and excitement during this new adventure.
Cali learned quickly to be a perfect paddling companion by following a simple system. Here is how you can train your dog to canoe safely and happily with you too.
Canoe outings should be a fun adventure for your dog, as it is for you. Cali looks forward to every outing because she never knows where we are going to end up.
Sometimes we camp and explore waterways of dog-friendly Ontario Parks but often, our trips involve day trips with overnight stay at a pet-friendly accommodation, which adds another level of excitement. With so many great places to explore in Ontario that welcome pets, why leave your dog at home?
Article courtesy of Northern Ontario's new Blog.
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