How To Go Kayaking With Your Dog

How To Go Kayaking With Your Dog

Kayaking is an enjoyable activity, and you might want to bring your furry friend along. However, you need to know the necessary information about kayaking with dogs to ensure both you and your pet have a good time. This article will provide details on the dog’s temperament, the kayak type, equipment, commands, and procedures you need to know before kayaking with your dog.

What Do I Need To Know About Taking A Dog On A Kayak?

When taking your dog kayaking, you need to be aware of the following:


You must know your dog’s breed to determine its behavior and the type of kayak that can accommodate it.


The best kayak’s performance capacity is 65 percent of the maximum weight capacity.

Hence, plan according to your dog’s size.


You need to know if your dog gets nervous around water, if it can swim, how well it adapts to situations, and if it can obey commands.

Ability to obey commands

If you have a good working relationship with your dog, this would be beneficial.

If your dog is not comfortable around water, has a tendency to get out of control, or can not adapt well to new situations, do not take it out on a kayak.

kayaking with my dog

What Type of Kayak Should I Use?

Here are a few kayak types to consider when kayaking with your dog:

Sit-On-Top Kayaks, Sit-Inside Kayaks, Inflatable Kayaks, and Tandem Kayaks. Sit-on-top kayaks are beginner-friendly, stable, and offer enough space for your dog to move around, even specialty kayaks like fishing kayaks.

Sit-inside kayaks keep your dog in a fixed position, so if your dog is not comfortable in open spaces, this might be a better option.

Inflatable kayaks are lightweight, durable, and can support extra weight. Most inflatable kayaks are made of rubber and PVC, so punctures are less likely.

Tandem kayaks are designed for two people or a person and a dog. It provides enough space for your dog to sit, lie down or move around.

Where Should I Kayak?

Start by kayaking in calm lakes, ponds, or slow-moving rivers. Avoid kayaking in rapids or whitewater rafting, as this can frighten your dog and put it in danger. Always take the rear position to your dog in the kayak, so you can keep an eye on it.

How Do I Get My Dog Accustomed To A Kayak?

kayaking with a dog

Introduce your dog to the kayak in a neutral place, like a park or backyard. Get inside the kayak and allow your dog to approach the bow. Use commands like “Get In Your Spot!” to instruct your dog to take the spot in front of you. Use “Sit!” and “Stay!” to keep your dog in place inside the kayak and “Okay!” to get your dog to leave the kayak.

Practice this until your dog can stay inside the kayak for a considerable amount of time. Reward your dog with special treats for each command it follows.

What Equipment Do I Take?

You will need the following equipment:

A PFD – A fitting, comfortable Personal Flotation Device for your dog with handles.

Sun Block – Protection for your dog against sun rays and light reflecting off the water, Dog Treats, Fresh Water, and a

Bowl – To feed and give your dog something fresh to drink. Also to reward your dog,

A Collar and Harness – To retrieve your dog easily if it jumps or falls out of the kayak,

A Leash – Never use a leash in the kayak or out on the water, only use it to secure your dog once ashore.

What Kind Of Commands Should I Use?

To keep your dog safe and secure in your kayak, you should use the following commands:

  • “Leave It” – use this command to prevent your dog from chasing after distractions such as ducks, geese, buoys, or other boats.
  • “Lay Down” – use this command if your dog needs to take cover from large waves.
  • “Get In Your Spot” – use this command to get your dog in their designated spot in front of you. Combine it with “sit” or “stay”.
  • “Okay” – use this command to signal to your dog that it’s okay to get out of the kayak if you’re close to shore.
  • “Get In The Boat/Get In The Water” – use this command to instruct your dog to either get back in the boat or swim alongside it.

Make sure to positively reinforce these commands and reward your dog as necessary.

How Do I Launch A Kayak With A Dog?

Launch A Kayak With A Dog

To launch a kayak with your dog, align the kayak parallel to the shore with the hull half on the shore. Command your dog to “Get In Your Spot” and reward them if they obey. Launch slowly by pushing away from the shore. If your dog gets nervous, head back to shore.

If you’re launching from a dock, get into the kayak and hold onto the dock tightly. Command your dog to “Get In Your Spot” and reward them if they obey. Make sure your dog is comfortable with the launch before setting off.

What If My Dog Jumps Out?

If your dog jumps out of the kayak, stay calm. Paddle over to your dog and either try to grab hold of their personal flotation device (PFD) or command them to calmly “Get In The Boat”. Don’t panic or yell, as this will frighten your dog.

Once your dog is back in the kayak, reward them with a treat and assume a calming, comforting behavior to help them recover.

What If We Tip Over?

If you and your dog tip over, stay calm. Find your dog and paddle beside them while holding onto the handle of their PFD. Guide your dog with you to the kayak, and flip it over if necessary. Retrieve your paddle and then gently hoist your dog up to the deck. Depending on your location, you may want to swim the kayak to shore without getting back in yourself. The most important thing is to remain calm and take deliberate action.


Kayaking with your dog can be a great experience, as long as you prioritize safety. By knowing your dog, selecting the right kayak, and using careful commands and training, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable time for everyone.