Written by 1:42 am Kayaking, Kayaking Basics

How To Kayak With Your Dog

If there is one great thing about kayaking other than just bringing your kids along, you can also go kayaking with your dog.  That can bring some much joy and fun into the whole trip.

However, as when you are kayaking with your kids, if you are going to bring your dog along, there are a number of things you need to put under great consideration before you set out.

These few things you do before departure will not only make your trip safe but also incredibly delightful for you and your dog as well. Here how to kayak with your dog.


Much like us human, when it comes to kayaking with your dog, size does matter a lot. If you go kayaking with that huge and super excited dog, chances of your boat capsizing are relatively high. However, we are not saying large dogs shouldn’t enjoy those amazing trips over the weekend. Ideally, a dog weighing around 30 to 50 pounds is the most ideal for a canoe.

Additionally, you might want to consider their temperament level, as well. If your dog is excitable, that could actually get you in more trouble. Here you don’t want your dog being easily excited by other animal sounds or even the weather. Thankfully, we have quite a number of breeds that comes highly recommended if you want to go kayaking with your dog. In many cases, Nova Scotia Duck, Husky, and Toller are some of the most ideal for kayaking. They learn to relax on the boat and enjoy the ride real fast. Nevertheless, this doesn’t means you can’t go kayaking with other breeds of dogs. It all lies how well you train the dog for that incredible expedition.


As when you are deciding on the type of boat to go kayaking with kids, if you are going with your dog, there are a couple of things that will come into play. At the end, you need something that will make the whole trip enjoyable and safe.

  • Weight: Obviously, your dog will add a bit of its weight, so you may want to settle on a lightweight and most preferably inflatable kayak. This will allow you to easily paddle the boat without breaking a sweat.
  • Stability:  Your dog is likely to make some back and forth movements.  For this very reason, your boat must be incredibly stable. It should also be able to track well.  That will allow you to achieve a very smooth and stable ride even if your dog moves from one side to the other.
  • Size: When it comes to the size of the kayak, you might want to go for a boat that is reasonably spacious enough. You need a boat your dog can fit in comfortably and without feeling like it is cramped into a corner.


Pretty much like humans, dogs also need to be trained before you can actually go for those serious rides on your kayak. It is vital you prepare your dog both mentally and physically for what is ahead. Obviously, you may find the whole process a bit frustrating when starting out, but you will find it to be much easier after a few training sessions.

One of the first things you need to focus on during the training is teaching the dog how to react to basic commands. This will come truly in handy and should you come across a very larger sea animal, the last thing you want is the dog getting overexcited and not being able to control.


Teaching your dog how to get in and out the kayak is vital. You need to teach him how to hop in and out of the boat. You can actually teach him these few techniques on a dry land, which will be much easier than if you do it in water. Some people may say why can’t they just lift the dog? Yes, you could do that, but training the dog to do on its own is very crucial. You actually never know when those hoping in and out skills will come in handy.


There are quite a number of accessories you might want t to bring along when you are going kayaking with your dog.

PFDs for your dog:

Very much like the things you do to ensure you are safe throughout the journey; your dog’s safety must also be taken into great consideration. There is no other better way than ensuring you get a decent personal floatation device for your pet, even if they can swim. There are a few cases this device will come truly in handy.

First, should the dog decide to jump into the water, this floatation device will hold him on the water until you can get to where the dog is. That is not even all; most PFD meant for dogs come with a sort of a handle right at the back. With that, you can easily pick up the dog and put it back into the dock if the dog is too big.

Harness and Collar:

This will be of great help should your dog fall on the water. It will allow you to pull him back to the kayak easily and very quickly.

A leash:

This is strictly for offshore use. At no time should you use it when you are in the boat with the dog. If you capsize and the dog is still tied to the boat, that can actually kill the dog.

Water and Food:

If you know you are going to kayak for longer periods, you need to pack the right food and water for you and the dog, as well. Additionally, ensure you have the right dog bowls for the dog to eat and drink water from.


Some kayaks are incredibly big and if your dog hasn’t seen them before, that can be quite scary.  You can’t just place your dog in the kayak and expect him/her to play along with it. So before you set you, get your dog into the kayak and let him discover the whole thing on its own. The dog will finds its own suitable condition and adjust to it. Ideally, if it is something you can do, place the kayak in your own garage and let the dog play with. That way the dog will get used to the boat and you won’t have any problem next time you want to take that ride with him.


Just like when you were first training for kayaking, you need to start out with flat water for your dog. Taking those crazy kayak rides on an ocean or fast rivers is never a really great idea for a beginner dog. Start with flat and calm so that if your dog jumps into the water, he can swim to the shore. However, once you are sure about your dog’s abilities, you can take things serious and now move to fast rivers or even the ocean where they are huge waves and currents.


Don’t go kayaking with your dog alone. Get a friend or any other people come along in case you find yourself in need of help. During those first rides, obviously, keeping the dog calm can be quite frustrating and it might take more than one person to calm him. Another person on the boat will truly come in handy.


Even if you are sure the dog is relaxed and very much comfortable with water, that first launching of the kayak into water with the dog on board can be one of the trickiest encounters. Your dog, like most pets don’t like the initial feeling of being afloat when the kayak hits the water. So during launching, you need to reassure the dog everything is all right every step of the way.

Normally, before launching, it is advisable you get the kayak as close as possible to the shore, with part of the boat still on the water; you can sit on the ground and invite your dog to climb and lie down in the kayak. Once the dog is safely in the boat, get in and using your paddle push off from the shore. During the launching, you are advised not to push the dog onto the water. That could in away make him scared and end jumping out.


When we talk of dog’s safety when kayaking, the first thing that comes into mind is the PFDs. Well, there are other safety measures you need to ensure you follow at all times. Some of the rules you need to follow include; at no time should you have the dog tied to the kayak. This is can be a death trap and can kill the dog if the boat tip over. It is okay to keep the collar on, however, be sure it can never get in the way of the dog like being caught up on something.


When it comes to how to kayak with your dog, you really have to go slow on your dog. During those first rides, don’t pull him out onto the water. This can be scary for the dog. Ideally, for those first days, you might need to limit it to just making sure the dog obeys some basic things like loading, sitting and obeying commands. When you notice there are tremendous improvements and growth, you can now take things really seriously. You can have him in water for a very short distance.


There are other things you need to keep in mind before you choose to go kayaking with your dog.

Maintain your dog’s toenails

Before your departure, ensure you have your dog’s toenails properly trimmed. This will prevent scratches and also allow your dog gain great traction when he is on the boat. Additionally, you might want to place a carpet or even a mat under those elastic bands for your pet to sit. The last thing you want it the dog causing some damages on the soft elastic bands because of those sharp toenails.

Dogs with health issues

Kayaking can be quite stressful if you go with a dog with health issues. Just like us humans, there is no way you are going to enjoy that kayaking expedition if your dog is sick. For example, a condition like arthritis can in a way reduce your dog’s ability to properly balance on the boat. In other cases, if the dog is suffering from vision and hearing problems, they become easily disoriented.

Final Thoughts

Bottom line; going kayaking with your dog can be one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experience ever. However, as with any other outdoor activity, if you are not well prepared, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble. Nevertheless, we are sure the above tips will make your journey quite a memorable one

Updated on January 23, 2021 by Ben

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