How To Kayak With Your Dog

One major question kayakers ask is if they can kayak with their dog. While it might seem daunting, kayaking with your dog is quite an adventure. This article highlights all you need to know about how to kayak with your dog.

Preparing Your Dog for Kayaking

Before you think about setting out on the water with your dog, a lot of preparation goes into getting ready. However, a fun activity like kayaking with a dog can turn sour without adequate preparation. There are things you should perfect with your dog to avoid certain inconveniences and enjoy a fun kayaking trip.

Training is crucial when it comes to dog kayaking. You must know what to expect from your dog when out on the water to keep it in check. Here are important things to practice with your dog before your kayak trip.

Answering Commands

Basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘go to your place’ are more vital when on the water with a dog. If your dog is trained for good behavior, kayaking with them will be much easier. If your dog hasn’t mastered these simple commands, you can start with that and then move to more specific-kayaking commands. 

These commands include:

  • “Up” or “Get in”: these simple commands can be used to train your dog to enter the kayak. Ensure they know not to enter or exit the kayak without your command.
  • “Leave it”: this is a great command for intense moments. When your dog successfully learns to abandon something when commanded to ‘leave it,’ you can avoid tricky situations that may arise while kayaking.
  • Go to your place: this command is perfect for redirecting our dog’s attention. You can keep a designated mat to act as the ‘place’. Ensure your dog knows their spot and can readily return to it. It is easier to redirect their attention than tell them to be quiet.  
  • “Time to leave” or “Hop”: You can use any of these commands or one that works better to get your dog out of the kayak. 

Practice Swimming

Dogs are naturally good swimmers. However, not all are comfortable with being in the water. An important step is to practice swimming with your dog. If your dog falls out of the kayak, you want to be sure it will swim back. Make it practice swimming with the Personal Floatation Device (PFD), so it will get used to the device. The PFD makes it easier to pick the dog up in the water.

Training your dog to swim also gets it familiarized with the water. This will make it enthusiastic about going on such trips with you, and everyone can have fun as you dip into the water.

Get Used to the Kayak

Starting on dry land, introduce the kayak to your dog. This will be easier to do when you treat the kayak as a place where good things happen. You can use incentives like treats to lure your dog into investigating the kayak. Hide treats in the kayak for your dog to find, and praise them for approaching and entering the kayak. The goal is for them to create an association with the kayak.

Best Kayaks for Dogs

You will need to get yourself a kayak that remains comfortable with a dog in it. A dog-friendly kayak should have certain properties:

  • Enough room for you and your dog
  • Stable kayak with adequate width.
  • Flat hull

When picking out the best kayak for your dog, you can consider the following:

Sit-on-top Kayaks

These kayak types make kayaking with a dog easier. They are wider than sit-inside, providing more stability for the dog. There is also more room for your dog, which allows your dog to move around a bit. 

Another perk of this kayak is its drain bungs. You don’t have to concern yourself with your dog dripping water in the kayak. These drains help the water flow back into the river. However, you must be more careful with younger dogs on a sit-on-top as they can’t resist jumping from the kayak.

Tandem Kayak

A tandem or two-person kayak is another great option. Your dog can have their seat while you paddle the kayak. Tandem kayaks are very roomy. Some can comfortably fit two people and a dog. This makes it perfect for couples who want to kayak with their dog. 

Basic Kits for Kayaking with a Dog

In addition to your kayaking gear, there are special supplies and kits you need to prepare when going kayaking with a dog. These are essential to keep you and your dog comfortable, healthy and happy. 

Here are a few kits to take along on a kayaking trip with your dog:

1. Life Jackets

A Life jacket or Personal Floatation device is important unless you choose to paddle on a small pond. You should make sure your dogs wear PFD at all times. Though dogs are excellent swimmers, it is better to be safe than sorry. 

2. A Floor Mat

 You can pack a small mat, towel, or blanket to put on the bottom of your kayak. This gives your dog a cozy place to lay down. They’ll be sitting and lying down a lot, and they don’t enjoy hard plastic any more than you do. These mats also show him where he should stay rather than wander.

3. Treats

Having some goodies is a fantastic method to ensure your dog is content in your boat. If you wish to let him play in the water at any time, a chew toy or ball might also be helpful. Just make sure that whatever you bring is a floatable, water-friendly item!

4. A Leash

When on board, you are not expected to leash your dog. However, once ashore, a leash and harness are very important and, in some cases, legally required. Keeping them leashed even if your dog is well behaved can protect them from other dogs.

5. Food and Water

Hydration is very important for you and your dog. While you might have plenty of water surrounding you, they are not safe to drink. Therefore, it is important to take enough water and food for you and your dog. 

Best Locations to Kayak with a Dog

An important kayaking tip when paddling with your dog is to find the ideal spot. Start kayaking with your dog for the first time with smooth and calm waters. A quiet pond or bay is perfect as it allows the dog to practice swimming and familiarize itself with the kayak. 

After several practices, you can choose to start kayaking in larger bodies of water. However, sticking to calmer waters like rivers, creeks and lakes is advisable. Rough waters with high currents and rapids will make kayaking with your dog difficult. Such waters increase the risk of tipping over and can cause your dog to be restless. 

You should avoid kayaking whitewater with a dog on board. Check current flows before venturing out on a kayak with your dog.

Tips to Keep your Dog Safe on Water

Apart from the essential tips highlighted above, here are some extra tips on how to keep your dog safe on the water:

  • While you might enjoy some kayaking benefits by getting a nice body workout, your dog might feel left out. Making frequent stops allows him to stretch or take a toilet break. This should stop him from feeling restless on the kayak.
  • Avoid all visible obstacles.
  • Balance your craft: Your kayak must be balanced at both ends. To do this, place some items on one end of the kayak, and your dog spot on the opposite end. This will stop your dog’s pacing from rocking the boat.
  • Paddle slowly: even if your dog seems calm, don’t move too quickly. If he exhibits signs of worry or anxiety, slow down.


Kayaking with your dog doesn’t have to be difficult. Patience and a little effort would make paddling with your dog an enjoyable day out. Training your dog to kayak might take a while, but it is worth it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a kayak or paddle board better for a dog?

Stand-up paddle boards are much easier for your dog to get in and out. Your dog might find paddling on a SUP board more enjoyable. This is because they are less restricted and have more freedom to move around. 

Should I leash my dog on a kayak?

You should not leash your dog while on the kayak. However, a leash is helpful when you’re back on shore. 

Will a dog pop an inflatable boat?

A dog cannot pop an inflatable kayak. Most modern inflatable kayaks are made with sturdy materials. They are capable of withstanding contact with sharp rocks. Letting your dog on the kayak should not be a problem.