Kayaking is a great recreational activity. What could be better than the sun, the water, and a day in a kayak? For some people, the day is made better by taking their best canine buddy. Kayaking with your dog can be great fun but is it safe in alligator-infested waters? Will alligators attack your dog on the kayak, and is there anything you can do to protect him?
Alligators attack dogs on land and may also attack dogs on kayaks. In addition, they will attack dogs swimming in the water. Dogs are the same size as the prey that alligators usually hunt. Alligators will be attracted to the smell of a dog. Barking dogs will also trigger a hunting reaction in alligators.
Using the water for recreation requires people to use common sense. It is even more critical when there are large wild animals present that can be harmful to people and pets.
Do Alligators Attack Dogs?
Alligators eat birds, fish, turtles, mammals, and other reptiles. Larger alligators will take down bigger mammals such as deer, wild hogs, other alligators, and even bears and panthers. They are opportunistic hunters that attack and eat anything within their size range.
Dogs come in all sizes, but so too do alligators. Medium-size alligators can quickly overpower and eat small to medium size dogs. However, large alligators have no trouble subduing and eating large dogs such as Labradors, Rottweilers, and even great Danes.
Dogs attacked by alligators may be swallowed whole or dragged into the water, where they drown and are consumed by the alligator. There are many YouTube videos where alligators take dogs from the shore or grab them while swimming.
Here’s a video of a man in Florida rescuing his puppy from an alligator attack.
Is Kayaking With a Dog Safe In Alligator Territory?
The University of Florida strongly recommends keeping dogs away from water where alligators live. In addition, they caution that all water bodies in Florida should be regarded with caution.
Alligators move around and may appear in a pond or lake where there were no alligators previously.
The University of Florida noted many more attacks on dogs than humans. Alligators are non-discriminate predators, and dogs will be considered prey due to their size, smell, and behavior.
The University of Georgia notes that we think of dogs as pets, but to alligators, they are just another meal. In addition, the scientists note that alligators often injure people when trying to rescue their dogs from alligators.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) discourages people from having dogs anywhere near the water. They state that dogs should not be walking near the water, go on boats or kayaks, and not swim in water inhabited by alligators.
Most kayaking experts advise against taking your dog kayaking in alligator territory. A dog on a kayak increases the chance of an alligator attacking your kayak, putting you and the dog at risk.
There are reports of dogs being attacked by alligators while aboard a kayak. One fisherman barely escaped with his Yorkshire terrier, Buffy, when an alligator attempted to snatch the dog from the kayak.
Dogs on kayaks often jump into the water, interested in fish, ducks, and other wildlife in the river. Unfortunately, this is extremely dangerous in alligator territory, and the dog may not survive.
How Do Alligators Spot Dogs On Kayaks?
Most people believe that alligators have poor eyesight, but this is not the case. Alligators have excellent vision, and the position of their eyes allows them to have a wide visual field. As a result, alligators can see dogs on kayaks, often before the kayaker has spotted the alligator.
As apex predators, alligators have an excellent sense of smell.
They can easily smell the dog’s presence, identifying it as possible prey from the scent. In addition, alligators’ acute hearing lets them easily hear a dog’s barking, whines, or growls even if they are underwater.
Alligators are well equipped to identify any prey, including dogs on kayaks. So the message from professionals is do not take your dog kayaking in water known to have alligators.
Dog Safety On Kayaks
It is critical to train your dog before taking them out on a kayak. An untrained dog can risk their and their owners’ lives. In addition, dogs going on kayaks should have a basic stay command to prevent them from jumping off to chase wildlife in the river or on the banks.
The American Kennel Club outlines a training program essential for any dog accompanying its owner on a kayak.
- Train on land first, so that the dog is not alarmed by the movement of the kayak on the water.
- Teach the dog to enter and exit the kayak on command.
- Teach the dog where to lie or sit on the kayak. A non-slip mat is helpful as most dogs struggle on the smooth slick kayak surfaces.
- Teach the dog to keep their balance while rocking the kayak on land.
- The dog must be accustomed to the paddle and paddling motion by pairing it with treats.
- The dog must be well controlled to prevent the dog from chasing wildlife which could lead to tipping the kayak or endangering the dog’s life.
- Dogs need to wear a personal flotation device or life jacket. It must fit the dog correctly, allowing it freedom of movement during swimming.
Dogs on kayaks can be leashed but never tie them to the kayak. If the kayak capsizes, the dog will drown if it is attached to the kayak.
Teaching your dog a ‘quiet’ command to stop it from barking if you encounter dangerous wildlife is helpful. In some conservation areas, it may be a punishable offense for the dog to chase or disturb wildlife, so control of your dog is critical.
It is crucial to choose the correct size kayak if you wish to have your dog accompany you. Fitting a large breed dog in a single kayak is not viable.
In addition, some dogs are too excitable and unruly and won’t ever make good kayaking companions.
The bottom line is that dogs and alligators don’t mix. Alligators see dogs as potential prey and will attack if given the opportunity. Therefore, taking precautions to protect your dog if you live in or are visiting alligator territory is essential.
Proper training, safety gear, and common sense will go a long way to keep your dog safe from alligators.
Dogs can be wonderful kayaking companions but need the training to be reliably safe on the water. Some dogs may hate the water, and these dogs should never be forced to kayak with you. Do not take your dog kayaking with you in water known to have alligators.
It is essential to be aware of your surroundings when in alligator territory. Be aware of the signs that an alligator is present such as logs or rocks that have been moved, large amounts of fresh mud at the water’s edge, or alligator tracks. If you see any of these signs, leave the area immediately.
Alligators are most active at dawn and dusk, so it is best to avoid these times if possible. However, if you must be in alligator territory during these hours, keep a close eye on your dog.
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