Kayaking With Your Dog: A Complete Guide

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Have you seen the viral video of the otter hopping on to someone’s kayak? If you haven’t, you should. Furry friends and kayaks are a winning combination.

That extends to your dog as well. What could be better than a great day out in your kayak with your pup by your side?

Being out kayaking with your dog who isn’t jumping after every fish or bird he sees. Like anything else new, it takes some training to get your puppy kayak ready.

Get our tips and tricks below!

Why Go Kayaking With Your Dog?

The best and most obvious reason is that your dog is awesome and you want to spend time with them. We didn’t need to tell you that.

It’s not the only reason, though. Here are a few more.

It’s Good for Your Pup

It’s good for the human brain to have new experiences. The same goes for dogs. Every time their brain experiences something new, they learn a little bit.

A brain that stays active is much less likely to develop memory issues or slow down.

So, kayaking with your dog is like a brain teaser for your pet. They’ll have to work hard not to jump after every distraction.

They’ll enjoy it too! It’s not all about learning. Your puppy will love the different smells and scenery that comes with a day out on the water.

They’re a Heater

If you live somewhere it’s chilly or are an all-weather kayaker, what could be better than a warm dog on your lap/legs?

Their fur will keep them warm, so as long as it’s not extreme, you don’t have to worry about that. Their body heat will keep you warm, so it’s a win-win!

It Keeps Them Cool

A hot day is best spent on the water. If your pup likes the water and can get back on the kayak, they can take a quick swim when they get too hot.

Or you can splash some water on them if they start to pant. You’ll have more fun and someone to enjoy the heat with.

Tips for Kayaking With Your Dog

Now that you know we’re not crazy for suggesting it, let’s talk logistics. Here are a few things you need to consider.

Dog Size

If you have a giant dog, they’re not going to do well on your Kayak. Think about the weight distribution.

Can your kayak handle 100 pounds the bow or 100 pounds extra at all? How will that change the amount of exertion on your part?

A very small dog doesn’t present the weight problem, but is it safe?

If you’re kayaking somewhere remote or wild if they hop in for a swim will predators think they’re a snack? No alligator dogfights, please.


If you’re taking your dog to situations you can’t control, like the outdoors, they must be well trained.

You can’t take a dog who won’t listen at the dog park on the water. If the dog park was too much stimulation for them, the open water will be too.

Make sure they know some basic commands like leave it and stay. If you see them tracking something in the water, “leave it!” will save you a lot of trouble.

What about if you’re getting out of the kayak or pushing it in the water? You need them to stay where they are.

Do They Like Water?

Has your dog shown they enjoy water before? Playing in the pool, the hose, heck, even their water bowl?

You don’t want to haul your kayak and your puppy out to find out they won’t touch the water. Them whimpering the whole way won’t be fun for either of you.

Health and Age

Does your dog have blindness or hearing issues? If so, a long day in the sun is hard for their eyes.

You need them to hear commands, especially if danger arises. Leave elderly dogs at home or make sure whatever system you use at home will work out on the water.

Taking a new or young puppy out may not be the best idea. They’re energetic and won’t want to sit still on the kayak for a long time.

Can you imagine how difficult paddling would be if the puppy nipped at the paddle bar every time? Let them get a little more grown up.

Things to Bring

Your puppy needs a life vest and so do you. A dog personal flotation device isn’t optional, even for the best swimmers.

That goes for humans too — what if something happens and you both go unconscious? The floatation devices keep your head above water so you don’t drown.

You can get these at some pet stores and outdoor stores, but also online.

Doggy Sunscreen

Yes, dogs need sunscreen too. Their fur protects most of them but vulnerable places like their nose, ears, and paws can burn.

There are plenty of dog sunscreens on the market, so order some before you go. Read how often you need to apply it to keep your puppers safe.

Prepping for the Trip

Before you go on your first trip kayaking with your dog, let them smell the setup. Lay out your kayak and gear before you pack it up in the car.

Let them smell it, jump on top of it, and generally get used to it. Most dogs will love the new experience, but knowing what they’re getting into never hurts.

If they seem apprehensive, hide some treats around the kayak to make it more friendly.

Our final tip? Have fun! You don’t have to look into your dog’s sad eyes as you leave for the water. Taking them with you is a viable option.

As long as you do some prep first.

For more kayak related goodness, check out our blog. We love to help people (and pups) get on the water!


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