Dog Pug with lifejacket kayaking

Dog Paddling: The Essential Guide To Kayaking With Dogs

 Dog Pug with lifejacket kayaking


Kayaking with your dog can be an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding experience. Not only do you get to explore the waters together, but it can also be a great bonding opportunity for the both of you.


However, it’s important to take your pup’s safety and comfort into account when kayaking. There’s a lot to consider, from the right gear to training your dog and safety considerations. That’s why we’ve put together this essential guide to kayaking for dog lovers.


We’ll cover everything from selecting the best kayak for your dog to navigating the waters and how to stay safe. Plus, we’ll answer all the common questions, including: how can I keep my dog safe if capsizing should occur, what are the most common mistakes people make when kayaking with their dogs, and how can you make sure that your dog will stay in the kayak while you are paddling.


Whether you’re a novice or experienced kayaker, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to get your dog comfortable to go kayaking. So let’s dive in!


What You Need to Know Before Kayaking with Your Dog

Kayaking with your dog can be a great way to spend quality time with your furry companion, as well as being an exciting and fulfilling activity for both of you. However, there are certain things you need to be aware of before taking to the water with your pup.


First, you must make sure your dog is physically able and comfortable with being in and around water, as well as in a kayak. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, it may still be unsure of the unfamiliar environment of a kayak. Teach your dog how to get in and out of the kayak so they can feel secure and safe in the vessel. Let your dog sit on the front of the kayak so it gets used to being in that space.


Once your dog is comfortable and ready to go out kayaking with you, it is essential to get the right safety gear and supplies. Make sure your pup is properly fitted with a life jacket, especially if they are not a strong swimmer. Additionally, be sure to pack food, water, and any other necessary items such as a first aid kit, in case of any emergencies.


Finally, it is important to plan your route and destination in advance. Make sure to pick a destination that is safe and doable for you and your pet. An ideal route should be relatively sheltered, with calm waters and minimal waves or currents. This will provide the best environment for your dog to experience kayaking safely and comfortably.


Once you have all the necessary items and have your route planned, you and your pup can enjoy kayaking together. Just remember to take it slow, be respectful of other people and the environment, and most importantly, have fun!


The Right Gear

When it comes to kayaking with dogs, having the right gear is essential.


There are several different options when it comes to kayaks for dogs, from inflatable kayaks to sit-on-top kayaks with built-in dog baskets. The most important thing to consider is the size and weight capacity of the kayak. Generally, inflatable kayaks can accommodate dogs up to 40 lbs, while sit-on-top kayaks can accommodate dogs up to 75 lbs. Make sure to buy or rent a kayak that has room for your dog so he can fit comfortably in before heading out on the water.


In addition to the kayak itself, you will need the right accessories. A life jacket is a must when kayaking with dogs. Make sure to purchase one that fits your pup snugly and comfortably.


Finally, don’t forget the basics. Make sure to bring plenty of drinking water and maybe give your dog treats to let him/her know they’re doing well (or anything else your dog needs), as well as a waterproof container to store any items you will need while out on the water and sun protection.


Guide to Training Your Dog

Although paddling with your dog is a fun way to involve your pup in a new activity, it is important to make sure that your dog is physically and mentally prepared for the experience ahead. Training your dog for kayaking ensures that your pup is safe and comfortable in the water, and can make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.


Before you get into kayaking, take the time to get your pup used to the water and the kayak. Start on the shore with some basic commands and let your pup get used to the kayak.


 Basic Commands:

Once your pup is comfortable with the kayak, you can start introducing the commands you will need while paddling. For starters, you can start by teaching them “sit” and “stay” to let the dog know it needs to remain still while in the kayak.


The next step is introducing your pup to the water. Start in knee-deep water and reward them for being brave. Once your pup is comfortable and enjoying its time in the shallow water, you can slowly progress to deeper water. Be sure to take your time and reward them for their progress.


If your pup is already a skilled swimmer, then you can skip this step and start practicing some basic commands in the water. An important command to teach your pup is “over here” so that you can call them when they need to be closer to you or to the kayak.


Once your pup is comfortable with shallow water and basic commands, it’s time to start introducing them to the kayak. Start teaching your dog to enter the kayak without you, and reward them for doing so. You can then reinforce the “sit” and “stay” commands while in the kayak, and reward them for following your directions.


Once your pup is comfortable in the kayak, you can start taking it out on the open water. Start in shallow water and gradually progress to deeper water as your pup gets more comfortable. Be sure to reward your dog for its progress and enjoy your time out on the water!


Safety Considerations for Kayaking with Dogs

Safety should always be the top priority when kayaking with dogs.

  • Make sure your dog is wearing an appropriate life jacket and is accustomed to being in the water and on a boat.
  • Consider the size of the kayak when choosing one for your pup. If the kayak is too large, it could be difficult to keep your dog from moving around, and if it’s too small, it could be unstable and dangerous.
  • Finally, make sure to always check the weather conditions before embarking on your kayaking adventure, as wind, waves and strong currents can create hazardous conditions.

Choosing a Kayak for Your Dog

When kayaking with your canine companion, it is essential to choose a kayak that is the right size and style for your pup. While there are no specific kayaks designed specifically for dogs, there are several considerations to keep in mind when selecting a kayak for your pup.



The first factor to consider when selecting a kayak for your pup is size. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, which means that you will want to choose a kayak that is sized appropriately for your pup. Before selecting a kayak, it is helpful to measure the weight of your pup and use those measurements to determine which kayak will be the best fit.


Generally, a pup that weighs between 20 and 40 pounds will be most comfortable in a nine or ten-foot kayak. However, if your pup is larger, you may need to opt for a larger kayak or consider purchasing a tandem kayak, which is designed to accommodate two people.



In addition to size and length, you will also want to consider the style of kayak you choose. There are a variety of styles to choose from, including sit-in, sit-on-top, and inflatable models. Sit-in kayaks are a great choice for cold-weather kayaking with your pup, as they will offer more protection from the elements.


Sit-on-top kayaks are ideal for summer kayaking trips, as they are more comfortable in warm weather. Lastly, inflatable kayaks are a great option for those looking for a more lightweight and portable kayaking experience.


Sit-on-top vs. Sit-in Kayaks

The two main types of kayaks for dogs are sit-on-top and sit-in. Each type has its own distinct advantages and drawbacks, so it is important to consider which one is best for you and your pup.


Sit-on-top kayaks are generally considered to be the best option when kayaking with dogs as they offer plenty of open space for your pup to move around, providing them with more freedom and better stability. They are also easier to get in and out of, which can make it simpler to take your pup on and off the kayak. However, sit-on-top kayaks may not provide enough protection from waves and wind.


Sit-in kayaks offer the opposite advantages; while they provide more protection from the elements, they are less stable than sit-on-top kayaks and there is less space for your pup to move around. Additionally, sit-in kayaks can be difficult to get in and out of.


A tandem kayak is also a great option if you’re planning to take a more extended trip. It has the same capabilities as a sit-on-top kayak and can also provide additional storage space, allowing you to bring more supplies along with your dog.


When choosing a kayak for dogs, it is important to take into account how much space and protection your pup needs, as well as how much you plan on taking them out on the water. Taking all of these factors into consideration will help you to choose the right type of kayak for your pup.


Getting Started

Before you kayak with your dog it is important to ensure that he or she is familiar with the activity and comfortable with being in and around the kayak. Start by introducing your pup to the kayak while on dry land. Allow them to sniff around and investigate, getting familiar with the smell and unfamiliar shapes. Once your pup is comfortable, you can begin teaching them the basics of paddling.


When preparing your kayak for your pup, make sure that there is a stable and secure platform for them to stand on. Choose a model that has large, comfortable openings for your pup to easily enter the kayak. Make sure to secure any loose items to the interior and exterior of the kayak to prevent them from toppling over and hitting your pup.


Navigating the Waters

Kayaking with dogs doesn’t have to be a challenge – with the right equipment and some preparation, you can hit the water with your pup in tow! It’s important to make sure your pet is comfortable in the kayak before heading out on the open water. Consider including a flotation device that is designed for dogs in order to keep them safe and secure. Additionally, make sure the kayak you choose is designed to support the weight of you and your dog. For small breeds, consider a tandem kayak, or even an inflatable kayak. The essential element to creating a safe and enjoyable experience is to ensure that your dog is familiar with the kayak before you launch.


How can I keep my dog safe if capsizing should occur?

If you and your dog find yourself capsizing, it is important to remember that kayaking with your dog is not just about paddling; it is also about keeping you and your dog safe throughout the activity. Here are some tips to help ensure your pup is safe in the event of a capsize:


1. Always wear a life jacket: A life jacket is essential for any kayaking activity, but it is especially important for kayaking. Make sure to include a life jacket for your dog in your preparation checklist.


2. Keep your leash attached: Keeping your pup’s leash attached to your own life jacket or boat can help keep him close in the event of a capsize. This will help you and your pup to remain together and safe.


3. Go with the flow: When capsizing happens, try to stay calm and focus on making sure your pup is safe. Encourage him to go with the flow and make sure he can safely reach the shore.


What are the most common mistakes people make when kayaking with their dogs?

When kayaking with your dog, there are several common mistakes to look out for:


Firstly, not having the right equipment for your dog can be a major issue. The wrong type of kayak can make it difficult for your dog to swim and/or move with you. It is also important to make sure your dog is familiar and confident with the kayak before taking it out and that the dog knows and follows the basic commands.


Secondly, not familiarizing your dog with the water before going out can be a disaster. Dogs can become overwhelmed with the unfamiliarity of the water and may not be ready for the task ahead of them. It is important to properly acclimate your pup to the water by slowly introducing it and giving them plenty of positive reinforcement.


Thirdly, not being prepared for the weather is a big mistake. Weather can change quickly while on a kayak and it is important to bring items such as a life jacket and emergency flares in case of rough waters. Finally, not having the right safety equipment can be a mistake.

How can you make sure that your dog will stay in the kayak while you are paddling?

It is important to ensure that your pup can stay safely in the kayak, and not get tossed out or jump out of the kayak during the journey. Here are some tips for making sure your dog will stay safe in the kayak when you are out on the water:


1. Start small with kayaking: Take it slow, and begin by introducing your dog to being in the kayak in a calm, controlled environment. Start by having your pup sit in the kayak when it is still on land. Give your pup some positive reinforcement to build a positive association with the kayak.


2. Make sure the kayak is stable: Make sure that your kayak is properly balanced and that the weight of your pup is evenly distributed. If your pup is too heavy, it can cause the kayak to tip over. It is also a good idea to ensure that your pup is secure in the kayak with a life jacket.


3. Choose the right size kayak for dogs: A kayak that is too big for your pup can be difficult for him to stay in, as he will have to constantly jump or move around to feel secure. On the other hand, if the kayak is too small, it can be uncomfortable and dangerous for your pup.


4. Keep your dog stimulated: Don’t forget that your pup needs to stay entertained. Bring along some toys for him to play with or give him treats regularly to keep him occupied. And make sure they know and follow the “sit” and “stay” commands


Where Does a Dog Sit on a Kayak?

The answer depends on several factors, such as the size of your dog, the type of kayak you have, and the type of water you plan to traverse. Generally, smaller dogs can sit on the front of the kayak, between your legs or in the storage compartment. However, larger dogs may need to sit towards the back of the kayak to balance out the weight distribution.


Kayaking with dogs may seem like a daunting challenge at first, however, with the right gear and training it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Both you and your canine companion can enjoy a new kind of adventure together, taking in the sights and sounds of nature and having an unforgettable time. Whether you choose a sit-on-top or sit-in kayak, ensure that the size and weight are suitable for your pup. Before you set off, consider any potential safety considerations. Ensure that your dog has the necessary equipment, including a life jacket, and that you have the correct safety skills in the event of capsizing. Finally, make sure to start the trip with your dog slowly and give your pup time to get accustomed to the new environment and thoroughly enjoy the ride.