6 Tips to Help Kayaking with a Dog

Kayaking with a dog isn’t for the completely inexperienced, but can be a fun activity for those with the knowledge and especially for dogs that enjoy the water.

Kayaking with a Dog

Paddling a recreational kayak is certain to give a fantastic workout which strengthens the back, core, and arms. Plus, for the dog jumping into a river or lake gives an all-round workout that doesn’t stress the joints and cools them down on a hot day.

But the ability to kayak with a dog largely depends on the temperament; some dogs can get quite anxious on board a kayak.

Kayaking with dog

Here are six tips to make the paddling experience with a dog go more smoothly:

1 – Get Familiar

Before paddling in a river or lake for the first time, let the dog get familiar with the kayak on shore. With the dog in the kayak it can be moved about gently to show there isn’t anything to be concerned with. Also, the size of the dog will help to determine the right type of kayak. A small breed might be happy to sit in a single-person kayak, while a large breed might favor the two-person or tandem kayak. Give enough space for the dog to lie down comfortably in the kayak.

2 – Flat water

On the first couple of kayaking outings make sure to use the flat water (quiet bays, ponds, or lakes). Wait until the dog is fully comfortable before thinking about using a fast river or open sea. A small body of water makes it easier for the dog to swim to shore should they decide to jump out.

3 – Go with a companion

Paddling with a partner or friend can make it easier when first starting out. Having the extra pair of hands will make it easier to control or help the dog should it start to get nervous. Use a tandem kayak for the best results.

4 – Paddle together

It helps to paddle in a single tandem kayak and not two single-seater kayaks. A dog that sees two familiar faces might look to jump out to reach the other person. This could cause extra stress and anxiety for the dog. A kayaking adventure is certain to be more enjoyable it everyone is kept together.

5 – Proper training

Most dogs with proper obedience training should do well on board a kayak. Basic commands like leave it, stay, down, sit, etc. should make it easier to control the dog in the kayak. You don’t want them jumping overboard in an attempt to chase something that catches their eye. A more relaxing and rewarding experience is certain to come when the dog is able to abide by the most basic commands.

6 – Use a PFD (Personal Floatation Device)

Similar to us, a dog should wear a purpose made PFD while in the kayak. Even if the dog is one of the breeds, particularly good at swimming it still benefits to use the life-vest type devices. PFD are made for dogs and come in a variety of sizes to match the specific dog.

Most of the personal floatation devices come with a top-handle to make it easier to pick up the dog when in the water or on the dockside. Plus, for larger breed dogs, the handle can be used to help direct them to the preferred spot.