A Guide to Kayaking With Dogs

Just as we seek time outside in the great outdoors, dogs also need time outside. Overall, dogs love water, so when on your next kayaking trips, why not take them along for the ride?

It is far better than watching their sad faces as you leave the house to go and enjoy yourself.

Kayaking with your dog can be straightforward if you do some preparation. You can even take your furry friend when you go kayaking with kids. This can be more enjoyable for both of them.

kayaking with dogs

Indeed, some dogs are not comfortable around water, but there are some adventurous ones who will lap up the chance to go out on an adventure.

In this beginners guide to kayaking with dogs, we look at the ins and outs of how to prepare, and what gear you may need.

Kayaking with your dog preparations

When considering if your dog is suitable to be a kayaking buddy, you do need some preparation. Here are a couple of things you’ll need to do first.

Is your dog afraid of water?

Some dogs like being around water while some breeds are not so keen on the idea. To be sure, it is better to take them to an area where there is water such as a local lake or beach to see how they react.

If you have a younger dog, they are more likely to take to water than older ones will.

Introducing your dog to your kayak

Once you determine your dog will be okay when you are out on the water, making sure they are accustomed to the kayak is the next logical step.

This you can do at home or by the lake and beach. Let them sniff the kayak and climb aboard so they can investigate inside.

As they become more familiar with the kayak, the easier it will be for them when you hit the water for the first time.

Tips for making is approachable are hiding treats inside, or sitting in the kayak and giving them a treat if they come aboard.

On your first trip, you will need to keep around shallow waters, to begin with. Spending some time like this will make sure they are used to the feeling of the kayak on water.

Is your dog trained?

Even if your dog enjoys the water, and is okay with being in the kayak, they may not be suitable if they don’t understand some basic commands.

If you have an older dog who won’t sit, stay or come to you on your command, then maybe they are not ready or suitable to go on your kayak.

If they do, follow these commands, one other will be for them to “leave it,” as there will be many things around them they may want to chase.

The great outdoors is full of things dogs will be inquisitive about. This will be crucial if you are kayak fishing and you have fishing gear around, or you land a fish.

Teaching your dog to be in the kayak

Take baby steps when kayaking with your dog

Once you determine kayaking with a dog is possible, you need to take it steady when you begin. Teaching your dog to be in the kayak at the start can take a few tries until they get used to it.

If you are making a beach entry, you can have your kayak half in the water and half out.

Training your dog to enter the kayak on their own accord is better than lifting them. You need to make sure they are laid down as you first push off.

If you are in the kayak first, a dog will feel it is safe and feel more inclined to climb inside and take their position.

Once you are on the water, you need to spend some time talking to them to calm them. Dogs may choose any number of positions to lay down, so don’t try to force them to be in one specific position.

Kayaking with your dog

One thing to note as you spend time in the shallower waters. There can be many things which will grab your dog’s attention.

This can be animals, fishermen on the shore or other kayaks in the vicinity. Making sure you stay away from these will lessen the chances they will jump over into the water to take a closer look.

At some stage, if your dog is a water lover, they will want to swim. Rather than trying to force them to stay in the kayak, it is better to let them have their fun.
The last thing you want is for the kayak to capsize because your dog is struggling to jump out.

This leads to another couple of things for kayaking dogs. Never tie your dog and make sure they are wearing their life jacket.

There are PFD’s especially for dogs, and in some areas, it is law that they wear one. No matter how well dogs can swim, if they are in the middle of a lake and the waters are choppy, then it may be too rough for them.

If they do swim around for a while, their PFD will have a grab handle on the back so you can pull your dog to the boat once they are finished, or let them swim to shore. It will be far easier with them while they are wearing their personal flotation device.

If you scoop them up and drag them back on the boat, you should never scold them, rather pat them and give them a treat for swimming back toward the kayak.

This can be enough to scare a dog to never try kayaking again, yet others will just take it as the norm and think nothing of it as they spend time on the water.

Some owners may think that fastening their dog to the kayak will prevent the dog from jumping overboard, but this is not a good idea.

If they jump, they will be hung up on the rope by the neck. However, the bigger problem is if you do flip over.

It is a safety hazard for your dog and for you. A leash can wrap around anything underwater and prevent you or your dog from reaching the surface, or from righting your kayak.

Best Kayaks for Dogs

If you are the owner of a kayak, then you won’t have the luxury of choosing one, which is suited for the purpose.

You will find the better types of kayaks are ones, which have a larger deck or cockpit.

Sit-on-top kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks have an open deck design and lots of room for a dog to get comfortable. They also come with other benefits such as they are easier to enter and exit and they don’t fill with water if you do tip over.

Inflatable kayaks

You may think an inflatable kayak is a bad choice because of your dog’s nails. However, these are designed to be a cross between canoeing and kayaking.

This means they have high walls and can be enough to prevent a tempted dog from jumping overboard.

If you are concerned about your dog’s nails, many of these inflatables are made in such a way that a puncture in one area won’t be enough for the entire kayak to deflate.

The materials they use are durable and they use double or triple skins for the deck area.
An old piece of carpet or small blanket can be enough to stop a puncture, as can trimming your dog’s nails before you bring your dog onto the water.

Tandem kayaks

These offer more space, but you do need to be sure your dog sits at the front with you in the rear seat.

This means you can see them, and they can see what is happening and have your concentration.

Kayaks with wider beams offer more stability. A good option of kayak for this can be a fishing kayak; these are designed in such a way you can stand, so a standing dog won’t affect the balance that much. They also come purpose-built with plenty of space.

A tandem kayak will have a front seat you can remove if there is just you and your dog; this offers more space for your dog to move without jumping over the side.

basics things for your dog in kayaking

Quick Tips for Dog Kayaking

Just because you are on the water and not on dry land doesn’t mean you can forget the basics for your dog.

  • You do need to be sure you have their PFD
  • Take freshwater and a bowl
  • Take their food for the day
  • A leash – never use while in the kayak
  • A basic first aid kit
  • Sunscreen and other dog sun protection – they do get sunburn
  • Bags for scooping poop – you never know when they will want to go

Wrapping up

Kayaking is healthy for everyone, dogs included. They will enjoy the great outdoors, fresh air and the chance to run around before or after pushing off onto the water.

Dogs enjoy the wind in their face and the sights and smells of all that nature have to offer. With the information above, there is no need for you or the rest of the family to see the sad face on your dog as you head out of the door on your next adventure.

A Guide to Kayaking With Dogs