August 04 2019

How Should I Prepare Before Kayaking with My Dog?

Most dogs love water, what better way for them to enjoy it than on a kayak beside you!

 woman kayaking with dog

Is it difficult to teach my dog to go kayaking with me?

While it isn’t difficult to teach a dog to kayak, it can take some time for your fur baby to learn.

Patience, understanding and often repetitive training will be the necessary tools to success. 

Most dogs love water but some do not.  This must be considered before training any dog to go kayaking.  If a dog has an aversion to water, it is best to leave them home and possibly select another activity to enjoy together – how about riding a bike together?


Bicycling with Your Dog – A Guide for Active Dog Owners


Dogs and Kayaking

The first, and most important consideration to be made is the temperament and personality of your dog.  Generally, a dog that goes kayaking or even canoeing should not be hyperactive or have anxiety issues.  They should also be able to sit still and follow commands well.

Larger dogs might be best suited to another activity rather than kayaking since they add extra weight to the kayak.  This can potentially capsize it if they happen to move around too much.  This isn’t to say that a larger dog can’t go kayaking, but they must be properly trained and well behaved.

Best Kayaks for Dogs

If you are searching for a kayak that will suit you and your dog together here are some ideas that may help you select the best one.

  1. A good kayak has stability to minimize capsizing.
  2. You should have room to fit your dog comfortably either beside you or in tandem. Some dogs might like to sit at the bow of the boat too.
  3. The kayak should be lightweight to make up for the dog’s extra weight.
  4. You may want to consider an inflatable kayak that is extra tough and durable.

check here for our TOP 10 Best Kayaks for Dogs list

All Dogs Need to Learn the Rules of Boating

In the beginning your dog will likely not be interested in the kayak all that much.  Finding a place within your yard or home to leave it and then letting your fur baby check it out is the best approach.  Add a couple favorite toys so your best friend can discover them.

After they have thoroughly explored it, you can sit inside it and invite your dog to join you, making it playful and easy going.  Once they appear to consider the kayak a non-threatening object you can move it around gently with your dog, or you and your dog sitting in it.

At this point you will want to refresh the commands of Sit, Stay, Leave it.  Good behavior is a must for any dog participating in fun adventures.  If they can’t behave well, it is best they stay at home for their protection as well as everyone else’s.

kayaking with dog

Commands of In We Go, and Out We Go (or something special just for the kayak) should be added to their training for you both to fully enjoy this experience.

These commands should be practiced repeatedly.

When you are practicing always use a commanding voice that is happy but firm.  Begin by telling them to Sit and not enter the kayak.  They should look at you for the next command, and when they do you should share a treat and praise for good behavior.

Next would be In We Go as you motion for them to get in, then Sit again, or use Down, followed by Stay.  Once they are sitting in the kayak offer praise and a treat.  At this point you can get in, perhaps spend some time petting your pooch and sharing affection.

When you are ready for them to get out, as if you had reached the shoreline you can command Out We Go and motion for them to get out.  Once they are out of the kayak you would then tell them to Sit.  Once they have done this and are focused on you, give the command to Stay followed by a treat and praise.

These commands are very important for when you are getting in and out of the kayak yourself.  If your dog gets in the kayak and it starts moving with you on the outside, it is likely that your dog will want to jump out.

The same is true for when you come back to shore, you will want your fur baby to get out of the kayak and wait patiently for you.  Once this is done you can both have time for exploring and playing together.

The command Leave it is helpful if they get excited by a bird, fish or other distraction that may have them wanting to jump in the water.

You may want to consider offering a special and unique treat just for kayaking.  Making sure that every training exercise you take your dog on is positive helps to reinforce their learning and enjoyment.

Again, this will need to be repeated numerous times over and over for your dog to comprehend what is expected while kayaking with you.

Now you are both ready use the kayak in a body of water.  The first outings should be in the calm waters of a lake or pond which is less work for you if something happens.

The first few times, just practice getting in, sitting in and getting out of the kayaking with your dog.  You want to ensure that the discipline is properly in place before you both move forward.

kayaking with your dog commands

After these trips you can finally begin paddling out a bit for a short period of time, seeing how your dog reacts to being in the kayak on the water.  If all goes well, you can lengthen the adventure or change it up to another body of calm water.

Waters that have rapids or changing currents should only be explored with dogs who are well experienced in kayaking with you.

This process should be taken slowly in case your dog gets fearful or anxious at any time.  If this happens, take a break.  Wait a couple days and then revert to the previous training step and try again.  Do this as many times as necessary for your dog’s comfort.

Sometimes having a friend along can help with the dog, giving them added comfort if they get nervous or reminding of commands as you paddle along.

What to Bring on Your Kayaking Adventure with Your Dog

  • Food, water, treats and bowls
  • Poop bags
  • Extra leash, collar and harness (if using)
  • Comb or brush and towels
  • Dog sunscreen
  • Dog first aid kit
  • Dog personal flotation device (PFD) with a handle
  • Pad or mat for your dog to relax on

Necessary precautions - Keep You and Your Dog Safe when Kayaking

  • Investigate the area you will be kayaking for common threats and dangers to your dog.
  • Only allow them to drink the water you bring and provide.
  • Always keep your dog in sight.
  • Don’t ever tie your dog to the boat or to you for both of your safety.
  • If going on a more experienced excursion, avoid rapids.

woman kayaking with jack russel dog at sunset

Preparations for Kayaking with Your Dog

  • Arrange for a veterinarian appointment to make sure they can go kayaking.
  • Have knowledge of the waters you will be kayaking.
  • Tire out your dog with a walk or some play time.
  • Provide a good bathroom break to lessen problems while kayaking.
  • Inspect their PFD to ensure it is in proper working order.

check Kayaking Near Me for great locations to kayak near you


During the Kayaking Adventure with Your Doggie

  • Make frequent stops at shore for bathroom breaks, water, snacks and playtime.
  • Always keep them in view on the kayak and on the shore.
  • Check PFD during breaks for safety issues.
  • Watch where they investigate along the shore for possible dangers and safety issues.

After the Adventure is Over - Dog Tired

  • Offer praise and treats for good behavior.
  • Check for ticks or other issues depending on location where you are kayaking.
  • Spend some time exploring and playing with your dog.
  • Take a much needed rest and get some food and water

A Word About Emergencies - Always be Prepared when Kayaking with Your Dog

Emergencies happen in life to us all, human and dog.  Even when we believe we have everything under control a situation can still arise.

When taking a lengthy kayaking excursion with your dog, or if you both are headed to more dangerous areas it can be helpful at the very least to have accident only pet insurance.  Should something happen to your pet while you are kayaking it may cover a broken bone, poisoning or other unforeseen issue.

It can bring you peace of mind as a pet owner on any journey you take with your dog, knowing that they will be taken care of.

Bonus - Rattlesnake Avoidance Training

Encounters with Rattlesnakes might happen depending on where your adventures take you.  When a dog meets a rattlesnake, they investigate.  This can be harmful for your dog, since they may get bit, and even potentially lose their life.

With skilled training your dog will learn to recognize a rattlesnake through their senses, teaching it to keep its distance and help keep you safe.

You can find more information about dogs and rattlesnakes at Rattlesnake Alert.

In Conclusion

Kayaking can be a wonderful adventure for you and your dog to share together.  With a little patience and a lot of practice you will both be out on the water before you know it.

Who knows what you will discover on your next adventure!

Stay tuned next week for advice on taking your dog jogging.


Back to top