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Everything You Need to Know About Paragliding With Your Dog

Rada is a volunteer at an animal shelter, where she helps dogs get adopted and have a chance for a fresh start.

Paragliding with a canine companion.

Paragliding with a canine companion.

It is not surprising that dogs share their owners' enthusiasm for various activities; four-legged skaters and surfers can be found anywhere. Another extreme hobby gaining rapid popularity is paragliding with dogs!

Paragliding is a recreational adventure sport that allows individuals to fly cross-country and long distances just with the use of a glider and thermals, with no need for an engine. Some people are attached to their favorite dogs so strongly that they take their best four-legged friends everywhere with them.

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

— Josh Billings

Flying Instead of Walking

Dan McManus is well-known on the hang gliding and paragliding scene for flying with his Australian cattle dog, Shadow. Dan has been flying for 33 years and has completed thousands of flights. McManus says that the dog always wants to go along and doesn't really like to see him up there by himself. Dan always feels that Shadow needs to keep him safe and to go flying with him. Shadow helps McManus cope with separation anxiety. Shadow is not the one and only paragliding dog who has felt a sense of power and freedom.

Jimmy Rimski, a 35-year-old Army helicopter pilot, took his Jack Russell Terrier, The General, in the air when he was a year-old puppy. Since then, the four-year-old dog has experienced more than 50 flights in his own logbook. Jimmy said The General is always excited before every flight, wagging his tail and jumping up. This skillful extreme dog has done more hours in the air than many paragliders and even has his own logbook where Jimmy records all his flights.

The number of paragliding dogs developing a taste for the high life is increasing every day, and most people like this idea.

Tod watches paragliders on Pule Hill, England.

Tod watches paragliders on Pule Hill, England.

Paragliding Equipment for Dogs

There are few manufacturers on the market today that make specific dog harnesses designed for flying, although those who seek will always find them. There are some models which are designed for search and rescue, climbing, and abseiling, and will be good for paragliding as well. Such harnesses are usually stronger than standard dog harnesses.

Proficient paragliders strongly recommend buying a commercially available harness, rather than using a homemade version, because a harness with a bad construction can cause pressure on the dog's limbs or thorax.

Paragliding harnesses from Ruffwear will be a suitable choice for comfortable flying. Even with the Ruffwear model, it is critical to adjust it properly: most harnesses support the dog's upper chest near the sternum, which on a small dog, is very close to the thorax. If there is pressure on the thorax, it can collapse and impair your dog's ability to breathe. On certain breeds, the pressure needed to induce this is alarmingly little.

Canine paragliding harness.

Canine paragliding harness.

Animal Cruelty or a Matter of Choice?

Some people are convinced that taking a dog in the air is cruelty, but let's get on with it.

In our society, there are many practices that are considered crimes against animals but are perfectly legal. These activities fall mainly into the categories of agricultural, research, and entertainment, and aim to maximize profits.

Dogs have played a significant role in human history, and they have served people with great dedication.

They have worked with humans in the following roles:

  • Companion animals
  • Herders
  • Hunters
  • Search and rescue dogs
  • Detection dogs
  • Guard dogs
  • Guide dogs
  • Hearing dogs
  • Mobility assistance dogs
  • Psychiatric service dogs

The multifaceted nature of dogs allows them to become a person's best friend for a lifetime. It's not surprising, therefore, that people want to take their four-legged best friends everywhere with them.

Why Do Dogs Fly?

Because they are selflessly devoted to a person. They are devoted and trusting to such an extent that they are capable of anything for a human even though it could cost them their life.

Dogs are sensitive to changes in their owner's mood. If you keep calm when paragliding, your mood will rub off on your small companion.

Watch your dog's reaction during a flight attentively. If you notice any signs of fear in your dog, this kind of activity isn't appropriate for your pooch.

Watch for These Common Signs of Fear

  • The dog's tail looks like it is glued to his stomach
  • Flattened ears
  • Lip licking
  • Growling
  • Clinginess to owner

Sometimes owners stop taking their dogs in the air because they become addicted to flying and often in anticipation of an upcoming flight, forget all their good manners. Dogs are capable of biting the people who are holding them or destroying the car that they are riding in if overwhelmed by excitement.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2018 Rada Heger


Rada Heger (author) on January 01, 2020:

Thank you, Asad!

Asad Dillz Khan from United Kingdom on July 01, 2019:

Yeah absolutely dog is a only animal on this planet which loves you more than its own self.....Very amazing and interesting article and loves to read this article... Superb Job!