paragliding with dog

Paragliding with a dog – is it possible?

In Backpacking & Traveling by CarolineLeave a Comment

Flying with your dog must be every paraglider’s dream. But is it actually possible to safely take your dog paragliding?

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I talked about learning to paraglide. This is something we have actually been dreaming of for a while. We know someone who does paragliding. She sometimes just hikes up in the mountains and then flies down. I imagine this to be an absolutely amazing feeling. My next thought of course was: could I take Baloo along? 😉

Four-legged adventurers, such as surfing or skating dogs, have been seen frequently already. But what about flying dogs? Is it even possible to take your dog along paragliding?

Oh yes, it is! There is some really fun footage of flying dogs, here are a few examples:

But all of these pilots are actually really experienced and sometimes even instructors!

What is paragliding?

According to Wikipedia, “Paragliding is the recreational and competitive adventure sport of flying paragliders: lightweight, free-flying, foot-launched glider aircraft with no rigid primary structure. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing. Wing shape is maintained by the suspension lines, the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing, and the aerodynamic forces of the air flowing over the outside.

Despite not using an engine, paraglider flights can last many hours and cover many hundreds of kilometers, though flights of one to two hours and covering some tens of kilometers are more the norm. By skillful exploitation of sources of lift, the pilot may gain height, often climbing to altitudes of a few thousand meters.”

To go paragliding, pilots usually climb up a hill, put their wing up and inflate it, then run a few steps and take off! Trained pilots can keep their altitude and slowly glide down. With the help of lifting air currents and thermals, a paraglider can even gain height.

Paragliding with your dog – how does it work?

Just like with a tandem flight, your pupper is basically your front passenger, while you are the pilot in the back. Flying dogs sit or lie on their owners lap, fixed by a sturdy harness.

Is paragliding dangerous for your dog?

Paragliding with dogs is a controversial topic. Just as flying with kids is.

According to statistics, paragliding is about as safe as driving. In both cases, one person for every 10’000 has a severe accident or dies per year. Most accidents happen because of pilot error.

Some people think that it’s dangerous or stressful for your dog to go paragliding.

In my opinion, this can be said about pretty much anything. Living in a city can also be stressful for certain pups. Or car or train riding as well. Anything can be stressful for your pooch as long as he wasn’t positively conditioned for it.

Most dogs love to join their owners on adventures. I mean think about it: to go paragliding you usually hike up somewhere. That already is awesome for your pupper. So many new smells and things to explore! Then he can sit on your lap while you are calmly flying down. I can’t think of a much better way to spend time with your furry friend!

Dogs are extremely versatile and adaptable. That’s why they have been domesticated for so long. There’s evidence of the first domesticated dogs dating back to about between 19’000 and 32’000 years ago.

That said, I haven’t done it myself. So I can’t tell you my own experience. I’m talking to you from an observing point of view. Most posts that you find in forums talk about their dogs being super excited when going on a flight. It probably depends a lot on your dog. So just try it out and be fair with your dog. If he shows any kind of stress on your first few flights, don’t force him. Maybe flying is nothing for your pup after all…

For signs of excitement caused by stress, check out my post about the question: why is my dog so hyper all of a sudden?

How to get started

Become experienced

Before you take your pup along on a flight, you should become experienced yourself, first. Many paragliders first gain years of experience before they take their dog along. I would definitely first want to be absolutely comfortable myself, before I’d take Baloo along. This way I can manage to stay calm and relaxed which will automatically rub off on Baloo.

Check out USHPA for more details on paragliding in the US in general. They also have a big source of schools and instructors where you can learn how to fly.

Once you’re experienced enough, you should still only take your pup along when there are very good conditions. Bare in mind that your dog can be a distraction and if you fail to do the right manoeuvres in difficult conditions, this can be a risk for your dog and yourself!

Observe your dog

If you’re already an experienced paraglider, take it slow with your pooch! First, get him used to his flying harness. Then take him to a starting ground to get him used to all the gear, especially the wing. If you can, do your first few flights as a tandem. This way you can take care of your dog while someone else is steering.

Observe him closely: does he show any signs of fear during a flight? Then go a step back. If your doggo is unable to relax at all, it’s possible that this is just not the right kind of activity for your pooch. Don’t force him.

As an example, check out this story of Becca, Cade and Tala dog. They took it really slow with her and look at how relaxed Tala’s flying with them!

Gear

First, you obviously need your own gear. Here you can find more information on the gear in general.

Good dog harness

Paragliding with dogs is still a very small niche. To date, there are no special harnesses for flying dogs. But a dog harness for climbing, abseiling or for search and rescue should work fine. It just has to be stronger than a normal harness to ensure that your pooch stays safe. It’s not recommended to make one yourself because this can put pressure on the wrong parts of your dog’s body, such as his limbs or thorax. So you should just get yourself a sturdy, safe one. For example the ones from Ruffwear, they are made for doggie adventures.

Tandem wing

Every wing is specially designed for its owner, depending on his or her weight. So if you’re carrying extra weight, you might have to have a tandem wing. This also requires a special tandem license.

Conclusion

So it is definitely possible to go paragliding with your dog. But before I’d take Baloo I would wanna make sure that I get a lot of experience. I would first wanna feel really sure about what I’m doing before I’d take my dog along.

 

Are you a paraglider and have you taken your dog along? Then leave a comment down below and tell us about it. I’d love to hear from someone who has actually done it!

 

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