Everything You Need To Know About Kayaking With Your Dog

The following is a guest post from Brad Pickering-Dunn of Watercraft Watch.

Kayaking is a great sport and fun activity, but even more so when you can take your best friend along for the ride. 

Taking your dog for a paddle is not as easy as you may think, there is some prep work that needs to be done first. In this guide, we will point out the things you need to consider and watch out for to make your dogs experience of kayaking a good one. 

Factors to consider before taking your dog kayaking

Not all dogs or kayaks are created equal.  It’s important to make sure you have the right kayak for your dog or your dream day out will turn into a nightmare.

  • Choose the right sized kayak – You will find different sizes of kayaking vessels in the market, and it is up to you to determine which will be appropriate for you and your dog. If your dog is medium or large, you should think of getting a tandem kayak.  

    For smaller dogs, this may be an unnecessary expense, but it is easier to limit a dog’s movements on a kayak than it is to increase the size of a kayak’s deck space.  In this case, bigger is usually better.
  • Train your dog – Training your dog to obey basic commands when launching your kayak and when on the water will save a great deal of stress.  Training does not have to only happen when you are on the water. Get your dog used to your kayak at home. Thre are some good training videos online that will help you instil a better sense of discipline in your dog when on the water.
A cute pup wearing a doggy life vest snoozes while his head is resting on the bow of the kayak
  •  Have all the necessary dog accessories – As you need the right gear to go kayaking, so does your dog.  One of the most important things to remember is freshwater and a bowl for your dog to drink from.  As people should NEVER drink seawater, the same applies to your dog.  

    You should invest in a suitable PFD for your dog (doggy life jacket). Yes, all dogs can swim instinctively, but if the weather gets up and there are swells it could take you time to get your dog back on board your kayak. By providing them with a PDF, this will not only give you peace of mind but also ensure their safety.

    Bring their lead with you. This can be used to keep them in place if they become restless or frightened, but it also will help when it comes to launching your kayak to have them on a short lead.

  • Time of day to go kayaking with your dog – Pay close attention to the weather and time of day you decide to take your pal on the water.  Early morning is usually a good time as the sun is not as hot. Consider the environment you will be in, too. If the waterway is busy during the morning and less so during the afternoon, then having few distractions or things to excite or upset your dog would be preferable. Ultimately you will know your dog best and the more frequently you go out with them the better you will be able to read their requirements.

Is your dog kayaking material?

Before you go to the expense of getting a kayak that can accommodate your dog, you need to first be sure that your dog will be suitable for kayaking. 

Not all dogs love water. If your dog is a puppy then training and getting it used to the sport should be fairly straightforward. If your dog is a few years old and had no exposure to water or being onboard boats, then you may have an uphill battle.  

When on a kayaking expedition with your dog, you must understand that not every dog is suitable for this kind of outdoor activity. This, however, is not dependent on the breed of your dog. Rather, it stems from its personality. Just like human beings, there are dogs that will not enjoy venturing into the waters, hence the need to determine the personality of your pet.

A small dog in a doggy life jacket sitting in the bow of a kayak looks attentively at her owner as he takes a photograph

Here are a few things to consider when determining if your dog is kayak material.

  • Consider the temperament and personality of your dog – When it comes to kayaking, temperament and personality are essential for your safety and that of your pet. Determine if your dog has that outgoing and adventurous personality that allows it to try new activities. Assess the temperament of the dog since the entire adventure involves sitting for long hours without having to play around. If your dog is very playful and eager to jump up and down while on the waters, you might need to consider training it first to avoid accidents.
  • The health of your dog should be another factor to consider before you take it kayaking – The goal is to have a relaxing and enjoyable experience while kayaking with your dog, however there could be a bit of stress on both of you getting to that point. Before you decide to go kayaking with your buddy, first consult your vet. Have your dog checked out for any potential health issues that may get in the way.

How to choose the right kayak for your dog?

There are a few great articles on choosing the best kayak for your dog, but here are some of the basic things to watch out for.


Kayaks are made from a variety of material, but as your dog’s claws are sharp and especially if they are a puppy they will chew, bite and nibble. Polyurethane, PCV or other hard materials are optimal. You can get inflatable kayaks that are capable of withstanding the rigors of doggy passenger, but these are expensive.

Type of Kayak

You get two main types of kayaks, sit in and sit on.  Getting a sit-in kayak is not the best idea if you have a medium- to large-sized dog. The cabin-like enclosure will restrict their movement and can cause them to overheat. 

The sit-on-top variety will allow air to flow freely and they can spread out and move around more easily.  


The stability of the kayak plays an important role in the experience your dog will have on the water. If your vessel rocks easily, your dog will feel unsafe and be far more likely to want to jump off or be nervous and skittish.  

The basic rule of thumb is the more stable a yak, the slower it is in the water. This is a small price to pay for the safety and security of your furry friend.

Fishing or recreational kayaks are a good choice when deciding on a style of kayak for your dog. Fishing kayaks are usually designed for stability and are generally more spacious and customizable than other styles.

Whatever you do, don’t choose a kayak suited to white water rafting!

The dos and don’ts when out with your dog kayaking

After preparing your dog for kayaking and finally settling on a date for your kayaking expedition, it is imperative to know how to act while with your dog. This is because there are some things that you will need to do or not do when out kayaking with your dog.

  • Start slow – When first kayaking with your dog, go for short trips, no more than 20 minutes.  Have a series of short but successful trips and then extend the time you spend on the water.  
  • Carry food and water – Using treats to reward desired behavior is a good way to keep your dog engaged and happy while on the water. Carry enough water for your dog. They don’t sweat as we do, so if the sun is beating down they will get hot and thirsty.
  • Take sunscreen – Your dog will burn from the sun, especially on exposed skin and nose. They may hate it, but put sunscreen on them to avoid sunburn.  
  • Take poop bags – Your dog may not have the opportunity to go before you get underway.  Keeping a poop bag in hand is always a good idea.

Paddle On!

Everything You Need To Know About Kayak With Your Dog
Article Name
Everything You Need To Know About Kayak With Your Dog
Before you go kayaking with your dog, read this article to make sure you've got everything you need for a safe and comfortable trip.
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Board and Kayak Life
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1 thought on “Everything You Need To Know About Kayaking With Your Dog”

  1. I have always wanted to take my dog out kayaking but I was scared. The youtubers make it look so easy, as if there is nothing to it. Having a detailed guide like this is more important than it seems


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