10 Pro Tips To Follow When Kayaking With Your Dog

If you’re into kayaking but haven’t taken your furry friend along, it’s a shame. Just like taking your dog on a road trip and having them take in the fresh air, your pup will love it! On a sunny hot day, going on a walk isn’t enough. Kayaking could be a great option, especially in the summer. No worries, we have come up with ten amazing safety tips for you to follow if you are thinking of kayaking with your dog.

From my experience, dogs enjoy nature just as much as us. Many dogs love to swim, and it’s an excellent form of exercise to keep your dog cool without being rough on their joints. Combine swimming with a bit of kayaking, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

10 Safety Tips When Kayaking With Your Dog

To make your kayaking trip as smooth as possible, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. In today’s guide to kayaking post, we’ll cover the most practical tips to help you with your dog on its first kayaking adventure!

1. Have Your Dog Wear a Life Jacket (PFD)

No matter how well your dog swims, it is non-negotiable to have your pup wear a life jacket. Accidents may happen, and you never want to put your canine friend in harm’s way.

Any type of rough waters or sudden movement can cause your dog to panic in the water. Plus, dogs won’t be able to paddle for long, so if you’re far out and they struggle to get back into the kayak, it’s going to be a problem.

Here are a few things to look out for when getting a life jacket. Test for the buoyancy of the doggie life vest. Many vests have features designed to have flotation around their back and sides, as well as under their belly.

Others have flotations around the neck to keep their head above water. You’ll need to determine what’s best for your dog based on their size and weight.

When it comes to life vest colors, you want to go with a jacket that is bright so you can easily spot your pup if they go overboard. Also, make sure it includes handles to easily scoop up your dog.

Lastly, adjust the life vest so it fits comfortably to where your dog can still sit, lie down, go to the bathroom, and move around easily.

2.Practice Loading and Unloading

It’s likely your pup won’t be entirely comfortable with jumping on a kayak at first. Never try to throw them out there like a duck in water. It’s essential to train your dog on how to get in and out of the kayak. First, teach your pup on land to jump in the kayak. Your dog won’t want to get in while the kayak is swaying around. Once he’s inside, command him to sit and give him a treat. When getting out, have your pup jump out of the kayak and then have him sit again.

This training isn’t as necessary for smaller breeds, though. For smaller dogs, you’re in luck. You can just lift them in and out of the kayak.

No matter what size your dog is, though, you want to train them to sit and stay still inside of the kayak. Always have treats ready when training your pup to instill good habits.

3. Consider Your Dog’s Personality and Breed

Keeping your dog still and calm while in the water is crucial to prevent any accidents or capsizing while you’re kayaking. Consider your dog’s temperament and personality to see if they’re the right fit to be a kayaking buddy.

A hyperactive pup will need some time to learn how to stay still in the water. Make sure your dog is the type that is at ease around water and doesn’t seem panicky. Also, ensure they can ignore distractions such as other boats, ducks, or birds, without excessive movements, barking, or jumping in the water.

If they tend to bark or cause a commotion, you’ll want to do short kayaking trips, to begin with, so that you can properly train them. The last thing you want is your dog barking and tipping the kayak over when you’re a mile out from shore!

One way to keep them calm is to make sure they’re comfortable during the ride. Give him a comfy dog bed to lay in or use a non-slip mat in the kayak, so they aren’t sliding all over the place.

Next, consider the weight of your dog. Kayaking is best for 30 to 50-pound dogs. For heavier dogs, you need to factor in the weight capacity of the kayak a bit more, so make sure to do some research to find the type of kayak you’ll need.

Massive dogs that move around a lot can end up tipping your kayak over, so you’ll want to make sure you’re within the weight limit of your vessel. We’ll touch on this a bit more with point #9.

4. Practice Your Commands

Make sure your pup follows basic commands such as sit, stay, or down. Having them obey your commands is a great way to keep them still, especially when setting sail. You may also want to train your dog the command “get in your spot.” You can have a beach towel or traction pad that is the designated spot for your dog inside of the kayak.

Once set up, have them jump inside and sit at the spot. You can train them by putting a treat on that spot and giving them another treat once they sit. Another useful command is “leave it!” If your pup sees anything that excites them, such as a fish jumping or another dog in a kayak, make sure they stay calm by saying, “leave it!” The key is to gain back their attention in this scenario.

5. Don’t Forget Your Doggy Supplies

Besides a doggy life jacket, you’ll want to bring along a few other items. Doggy treats are a must to keep them calm and distract them when needed. Ideally, have a doggy water bottle to drink, so they won’t try to drink from the lake. You might have to take your dog to the kayak if it is the first time so he or she can get used to it. Use treats to try to keep your pooch on board.

Bring a nice seated cushion such as a beach towel, or more fancy water-resistant pads. Next, consider bringing sunscreen, sun balm, or a cute pair of doggy goggles. You’ll be surprised to know that your furry friend can get sunburned too! Lastly, have water dog toys if you’re taking them out for a swim and poop bags if you plan on making a couple stops along the way.

6. Start with Shallow and Calm Waters

Kayaking at the beach with my dogOnce your pup has mastered the commands and the loading and unloading process, you’re now ready to hit the water! Pick a spot where the water is shallow, calm, and ideally a semi-private location.

When you’re just starting out, it’s best to keep your dog focusing on one task, which is sitting still. This can be difficult if the water is choppy. Consider giving them a toy or bone to hold onto, so they stay.

Let them explore the kayak to find their favorite spot and get comfortable inside while in the water. Ideally, you want to take short trips of 15 minutes or less for the first couple of times. This will keep your dog from stressing out and train her to remain calm the entire trip.

7. Consult with Your Veterinarian

It is best practice to ensure your dog has heartworm protection before kayaking. If your pup gets a mosquito bite, they are prone to larvae heartworms infections, causing heartworm disease. For some dog breeds like the Merle French Bulldog, kayaking might not be a great adventure at all. They can overheat, and it can lead to serious health problems.

Mosquitos love to be in nature and large bodies of water. So, make sure you visit your veterinarian before your trip and that you’re up to date with your vaccinations and any necessary preventative medicine you might need for your dog. Remember, keeping your furry friend safe is the number one priority.

8. Get a Good Floor Traction Pad

The problem with kayaks is that many of them are slippery, especially when waves hit. This will cause your dog to slide around, making them nervous and frightened. It’s vital to have your dog stay still and keep calm in the water. For some people, a beach towel or yoga mat works fine. But if water gets into the bottom of the kayak, it still can slide around.

That’s where you want water-resistant pads or traction pads. Depending on the surface space, you can usually get a rectangular-shaped pad that fits. Or, you can even cut out a traction pad that fits the size of your kayak space. These traction pads will include adhesive material that results in the extra grip for added stability. Some will even allow you to tie your dog.

9. Choose the Right Kayak for Your Dog

Choosing a dog-friendly kayak is crucial for preventing capsizing. You first need to consider the weight of your pup and the weight capacity of the boat. Most heavy-duty kayaks should have a weight capacity of 500 lbs. or more. Inflatable kayaks are popular for dogs because they’re lightweight but have a pretty high weight capacity and are usually easier to paddle.

Also, make sure the size fits two people and a small child. Some kayaks even have a little doggy seat. If your dog is heavier than 50 lbs and is quite large, consider an ocean kayak with extra room. Most canine kayakers love all kinds of outdoor adventures.

Lastly, choose a kayak with stability. This means that the kayak tracks well and stays on course, so any movement inside won’t tilt the kayak. Sit-On-Top kayaks typically have a useful self-draining system to prevent your dog from getting wet. You got to have patience and try not to go kayak fishing if it is your dog’s first time kayaking.

10. Consider Accident-Only Dog Insurance

No matter how experienced you might be, accidents can happen. Water activities aren’t always the safest, either. There is still unforeseen weather, water conditions, or just a slip in judgment that could cause a pet accident. Teaching your dog new things like kayaking could be dangerous. For some excitable dogs is better not to go kayaking at all.

In this case, consider having pet insurance if you don’t have some already. This can save you a boatload of money to get your doggy healed up. Ideally, you want to get the insurance that covers bloat, body ingestion, poisoning, cuts and lacerations, prescription drugs, torn ligament, vaccines, etc. In fact, 75% of dogs will become ill or injured at some point. And exposing them to waters with insects crawling around won’t make it safer.

Top Tips When It Comes To Basic Safety

Different kayak modelsPlaning a trip with your dog once or twice a year is always a good idea. At first, if you are trying to introduce your dog to kayaking, it could be a little awkward. Start with whitewater kayaks first, and then you can move into sea kayaks later on. Fresh water lakes are always a great family trip, especially when it involves pet travel. It is also a great place to get your dog in the kayak for the first time.

Remember that dogs have a protective instinct, they can jump off the kayak chasing a sun dolphin or sea eagle. The number one goal when kayaking should always be to keep you and your dog safe at all times. That is why dog life jackets can come in handy in case of the dog jump out of the kayak.

It might not be a fantastic idea to bring your dog to kayak on fast-running rivers. Also, kayaking, combined with training, can be a great way to start desensitizing your dog. According to the Animal Human Society, dogs with aggressive and unwanted behavior need some low intense stimulus. However, it is always better to teach your pooch basic obedience commands before going kayaking.

Helpful Ideas

A dog sit traction pad is considered to be a top kayak gear for your dog. This is because it allows your pooch to stay on the slippery kayak longer. Also, giving your dog some treats is a great way to keep them from jumping into the water. Do not tie your dog harness to the canoe and kayak anchors, and it can be dangerous for your pooch.

Here at NationalParksTravelers.org, you can find a list of the top recreational kayak national parks for kayaking with dogs. All of these parks are great for canoeing or kayaking with your dog. They also have some dry land for mountain biking and other cool outdoor activities.


Kayaking with your dog is one of the best summer experiences you can have. There’s nothing quite like getting out on the water with your best bud and soaking in the summer rays. With these tips, you now have the know-how to bring along your new kayak buddy. It may take a bit of training, but that’ll only strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Summer won’t last long, and doing fun activities with your dog is a great way to promote a healthy lifestyle with your pup.

For larger dogs like the Golden Retrievers or German Shepherd, a tandem kayak provides that extra room. Also, consider purchasing a good life vest if you are thinking of kayaking in deep waters. Dogs love any kind of outdoor activity, especially when it involves doing it together with the parent. They can sit in the kayak or paddle board and enjoy the beautiful view. I hope you enjoy our dogfriendly kayaking tips, please follow our blog for cool larger dog accessories.

Last Updated on 29/05/2020 by Karen Snow

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