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Float with Fido

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On: Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 10:05AM | By: Sara Decker

Canine Flotation Device

In Florida, we swim with dolphins, snorkel with manatees; why not kayak with dogs? As we approach the dog days of summer, pavement and paws don't mix. Dogs, like people, need to get out of the house. Unless you want to replace your tasty, chewy couch, it's less expensive and more fun to channel that energy in a positive direction.

Many dogs are already welcome crew members on boats or even on an occasional jet ski. Kayaks can be a fun option as well. In an effort to inform and entertain, please review the helpful hints should you want to "embark" on this undertaking with your favorite four-footed friend.

Do choose a companion suited to this pursuit. A dog who enjoys water and is a fair swimmer is a solid choice. I chose our 15lb. Jack Russell mix aka "The Ratt" who swims well and is easy to scoop out of the water.

Do Not choose a landlubber dog. Our Basset Hound sinks (so much for fat being buoyant); also, it would be an undertaking for me to pull 60lbs out of the water.

Do spend a few bucks and buy a life jacket made for dogs. After buying several, these are my favorites due to price point, sizing, and durability.

Do Not re-purpose Aunt Myrna's old life jacket. It may fit Buster, but it's not a safe. Funny? Yes. Safe? No. Do not re-purpose Buster's life jacket for Aunt Myrna, either. Funny? Yes. Safe? No.

Do ease your dog into this new undertaking. Some take to it immediately, others need coaxing. If you start with the kayak on the lawn and a few pieces of chicken, the kayak will soon become the best new thing ever. Sit in the kayak on the lawn with the dog. Encourage your neighbors to comment and take photos; laughing neighbors are good neighbors.

Do Not toss the dog in the kayak and head out for a long paddle in rough conditions. This might be fun for you, but the dog will never want to get back in the yak.

Do remember to take fresh water and a bowl for the dog.

Do Not forget to take water for yourself and sunscreen. Some people do put sunscreen on their dogs. I can't stop laughing long enough to do a decent job of it.

Do enlist the help of a friend (or the still-laughing neighbor) to assist the first time you do the Fido Float. Someone on land who is ready to grab the dog should it have a Titanic flashback can be helpful.

Do Not attempt to fish from the kayak with the dog in the kayak. Bait, tackle, a confined space, and flopping fish can result in a wet angler and wet dog. Neither smell good.

Do keep a sense of humor. This is supposed to be fun! Should your canine companion have the adventure of a lifetime and snag a jumping mullet, there is no need to panic. According to the FWC, individuals under the age of 16 do not need a fishing license (


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