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Kayaking With A Dog

The Joys Of Kayaking With A Dog

Kayaking with a dog can be an enjoyable experience. Man’s best friend offers a lot when it comes to companionship. Thinking outside the box on activities you can do with your dog can open up a world of possibilities.

Not only is kayaking with a dog a great way to bond and have fun, it’s also good for your dog, giving them fresh air and exercise.

How to prepare

It is important to find a canoe or kayak that is a suitable size for your dog.

Some crafts are better suited to small dogs and some are great for large dogs.

There are different types of kayaks, and some are more suitable for dogs than others.

It is a good idea to make sure that you choose a kayak that offers plenty of space for you, your dog, and any supplies you need to bring.

Sit-on-top and sit-in kayaks are two kinds of kayaks that work well for dogs.

Sit-on-tops are stable and easy to get in and out of, while sit-ins are better if you want to stay dry but can be harder to get in and out of.

Recreational kayaks are also an option but work better for lap dogs or smaller dogs who can sit in the storage space.

You can upgrade to a tandem kayak if you need more space or want your dog to have their own seat. Inflatable kayaks are great for those who need easy transport and storage but don’t work as well when it’s windy.

Kayaks to avoid include sea kayaks and white water kayaks, as they do not offer much room or stability for adding a canine friend.

How to kayak with your dog

Training Your Dog To Kayak

Start slow. It is important for your dog to find kayaking an enjoyable experience, so you should never drag, force, or pick up the dog to accomplish this.

Instead, take your time and coax them into it. Treats and praise are a great way to coax your dog into accepting new situations.

Begin with the kayak on dry land. Walk around the kayak with your dog, encouraging them to sniff it thoroughly.

Next, get in the kayak yourself and just sit there. Your dog will be curious and come over for a closer look. 

Next, get in the kayak yourself and just sit there. Your dog will be curious and come over for a closer look. 

Encourage your dog to come and sit on your lap, this will make them feel safe and the canoe less scary.

Make sure to tell them they are a good dog and reward them with lots of pats.

Repeat the process over a few days and then move on to getting your dog to sit in the kayak without you in it. 

Once they are happy to stay in there alone, you can work on teaching your pup a command to use for getting in and out.

This will come in handy once you are ready to go out on the water. 

Once you feel your dog is comfortable, practice in shallow water.

Make the trip as positive as possible, dogs love to please and this should be a fun activity for you both. 

As your dog gets more comfortable with the process, you can begin taking short trips. Once you feel your dog is ready, slowly increase the time on board and distance you paddle. 

During this time, you can also be teaching your dog  to be comfortable wearing a life-jacket if you will be using one.

Having the right gear for this activity can give pet owners confidence, knowing that their pooch will be safe during the journey should the worst happen.  

A canine personal flotation device (PDA) is a great addition to your list of what to take with you.

Not only will a life preserver help you to fish your dog out of the water should you capsize or if your pooch falls in, but it will also keep them warm in windy conditions.

Also, before undertaking a long journey, it can be a good idea to experiment with different weather conditions.

Some dogs will be naturals at adapting to the kayak, but others will need a bit of convincing. Even dogs that are not good swimmers or who don’t seem to like water can enjoy kayaking.

Teach Basic Commands When Kayaking With A Dog

It can be a good idea to have a few commands in place when kayaking with dogs. Not only so your dog knows what to do but also for safety reasons.

Try to use simple commands, dogs generally only understand the first 2 words in a command. 

Important points to consider are:

  • A command that works to let your dog know to get in the kayak

  • A command to let them know it’s time to get out of the kayak

  • A command for when you need your dog to be calm or still if you encounter bad weather or rough waves

  • One to indicate it is okay for them to jump overboard and have a swim

  • A Command to keep your dog from going after something that grabs their attention, perhaps causing them to jump in after it

  • An important command to teach your dog for safety reasons is to stay where they are. It can be frightening to have your pup jump overboard at the drop of a hat, but more importantly, they need to be able to stay where they are if you leave the kayak.

Practicing these before you get too far into your kayaking adventure will make the outing go smoother.

What to Pack for Your Trip

Like any prepared kayaker, there’s a list of items to bring when it comes to your dog.

For quick trips, you’ll need at least a few treats, water, and a bowl, along with your life jackets. For longer trips, make sure you have the following:

  • A leash for walks outside of the kayak

  • Towels to dry off after a swim, which can also double as a comfy spot for your dog to sit on

  • Snacks for you and your pup

  • Toys that work well even when wet

  • Sun protection

  • A basic first aid kit

  • A doggy jacket for your furry friend. A life preserver will help to keep them warm, but if you leave the kayak and the weather is less than optimal, your pooch may need extra layers.

  • Doggy bags for disposing of poop

  • A waterproof sack to store towels, food and phones etc in case you capsize

Places To Go Canoeing With Your Favorite Canine

You can kayak with your dog on lakes, rivers and for an experienced team, even out to sea. 

Introducing fishing at sea or on a lake while kayaking or canoeing with your dog can add an extra element of fun to your trip.

If you are going camping and want to kayak and swim with your doggy friend, it can be a good idea to call ahead and check if it is permitted at your chosen site.

Some campgrounds don’t allow dogs in the swimming areas, so a bit of research on the rules and regulations ahead of time can save a lot of angst and disappointment.

What to do if things go wrong

The most common problem that arises when kayaking with your dog is when your furry friend falls in. Sometimes dogs lose their balance and unexpectedly drop over the side.

This can be a bit scary for you both, so the best thing you can do is practice getting your dog to shore or back in the boat in shallow water ahead of time.

The absolute scariest thing that could happen is if you capsize. You will need to teach your dog to remain calm whilst you right the canoe.

Even the best swimmers can get tired (people and dogs), especially if they are scared. A life jacket for your dog can help to keep them afloat until you have the kayak upright and ready to go.

It can be handy having a strong handle on the life preserver so you can simply reach over and pull your dog back into the boat (providing it is upright of course).

Plan for the weather

It can be a good idea to check the weather forecast before setting out on your adventure. While it might start out to be a sunny wind free day, conditions can quickly change on the water especially if you are out at sea.

By checking the forecast first, you will know if the water will remain calm and the skies clear, or how many hours you have in the great outdoors before you will need to head home.

Other Things To Consider

Is My Dog Too Big Or Too Young?

  • It can be very hard to get a puppy to stay still on dry land let alone on water. Every dog is different in temperament but you may have to wait a few months for your puppy to settle down before going on a kayaking adventure.
  • Big dogs present their own set of problems, in regard to weight and the amount of room they need. You will need to find a kayak made for larger dogs.

Does my dog have any health issues?

  • Older or arthritic dogs may have trouble getting in and out of the canoe or kayak.
  • Dog’s with heart conditions may become overly excited during your trip

If your dog is not completely healthy, you can still go out on the water, simply adjust your distance to suit your pooch.

kayaking with a dog tips

Final Tips:

Kayaking with your dog can be a fun adventure for all. However, like all adventures, things can not quite go to plan.

To make the best of your outing, be sure to follow these extra tips:

  • Make sure your dog has gone to the bathroom before you head out

  • Never tie your dog to the kayak and avoid having them on the leash in the kayak, as this can be dangerous if you tip out or over

  • Make the ride comfortable by adding towels or padding to a hard surface of the kayak

  • Make the kayak seem appealing by having it around when you aren’t in the water and adding things that are familiar to your dog

  • The best way to avoid any issues is to make sure your dog is rested and calm to reduce any hyper behavior or agitation

  • Always have your dog wear a life jacket

  • Know your dog and have realistic expectations

  • Make sure you have mastered kayaking and are comfortable enough to have your pet along for the ride

  • Go slow and be patient

Now all you need is to pack up your supplies, brush up on your commands, pick a nice day and have an amazing kayaking adventure with your best friend.