How to Safely Take Your Dog Kayaking

Kayaking is one of the most relaxing actions that you can do by yourself. Enjoy nature, the water, the sun, the different creatures all around you, and float away from the rest of the world.

Nevertheless, sometimes you’d like to share that time with a special someone, and who is more special than your dog, your furry best friend. Hence, today we’ll tell you all about how to safely take your dog kayaking.

1. Basics


Let’s start with the most basic aspect and most crucial one as well when it comes to taking your dog on a kayak, and that is your level of experience. You don’t have to be kayaking for 15 or 20 years; still, you must have a very good command of your kayak, paddle, and yourself no matter what kind of water hits you.

That doesn’t exclude the fact that you might run into any kind of emergency; nonetheless, robust experience will be the difference between injury or even losing your precious dog, and getting out unscathed both of you.

The bottom line is: your pet will be entirely dependent on you to save them and bring them back to land safely, unlike having a fellow kayaker who will be responsible for themselves.

Kayak Size

Kayaks come in numerous sizes, no matter what you want, you’ll probably find it on the market today. So, if you’re used to going out by yourself, you’ll find that your kayak is fitted towards that.

Yet, whenever you decide to bring your very best friend along, you’ve to make space for them, and that might force you to acquire another kayak that can comfortably seat your dog. If it’s a sit-on-top kayak, then you’ll DIY a seat for them, or purchase it, so that they’re laying comfortably.

If it’s a sit-on-top kayak, you’ll make space for them, train them to get into the seat comfortably, and stay there.

That will also depend on the breed of your dog. There are some smaller dogs that can fit anywhere, so you might not have to go with a new kayak, while other bigger dogs, such as Rottweilers and Labradors, who need their space. Otherwise, they’ll feel claustrophobic and might act totally out of character.

Toilet Trips

When you have your dog with you, you’re fully responsible for all their actions, so you have to make sure they’re entirely comfortable, and toilet trips are essential for that.

Consequently, you’re always advised to take your dog out on a long walk or run before getting into the kayak. That will allow them to do their business and help calm your dog down so that they’re not over-excited when they get onto the kayak.

Still, what if they need to go when they’re out on the water? Always have disposable bags so that you can bag the feces and dispose of them properly when you’re on land again.

2. Preparation

Now that you are prepared, let’s talk about the preparations that you need to go through with your dog in order to acclimate them to the kayak and the waters.


Naturally, dogs can swim; but there are always exceptions to the rule. Sometimes they’re stressed out by the current of the water, or the presence of so many distractions around them in the form of trees, birds, ducks, and fish.

You must start with them from the very beginning and have them swim in calm environments. Then slowly transition them into environments that are bustling with activity. Always be there to reassure them, get in the water with them, and shower them with affection, support, and treats.

If your dog is floating peacefully after you’ve tipped over or they’ve jumped, it’ll be so much easier to grab them by their life jacket and help them back on board than when they’re scared and struggling.


When you’re out of the water, you want your dog to follow your commands down to the very last detail. In order for them to do that, they’ve to feel safe and have the proper training.

You’ve to have a certain word for them to get into the kayak, get out of the kayak, lay down in their seat, as that is the safest position for dogs on kayaks, and finally, a command to capture their attention so that they’re not distracted by flocks of birds, dolphins, or any kind of fish that might induce them to jump into the water.

In general, the rules to train your dog to obey your commands are to do the act first, to show your dog how it’s done, and they feel safe in the act.

For instance, if you’re trying to get them to get into the kayak, you should hop in and sit comfortably first. If you want to get out of the kayak, get out first and then have them follow you. Plus, show them a lot of support and praise whenever they do something right.

Always command your dog to lay down on/in the kayak, so they understand that when they listen to you, they’ll get the treats and that this is the proper way to act in this specific environment.

Before you get anywhere near the water, they have to get acquainted with the kayak. So, bring it out into your garage or your backyard, have your dog walk around it, sniff it, and play in it. You can put some treats in the nooks and crannies of the kayak and have your dog search for them. so they associate the kayak with treats and playing and all of the good things.

Also, whenever you start taking it on the water, you’ve to start slowly. Paddle for a little bit around the dock and go back.

3. Emergencies

We’ve talked about how to act when an accident happens; now, we’ll get into the details of these scenarios.

Dog Jumping or Falling Into the Water

The first step to preventing such an accident from happening is to have a certain command that will cut your dog’s span of concentration when it’s called out by you. Sit down or lay down or anything that your dog will understand when they look at you.

They’ll understand that they need to calm down thanks to your firm tone. Still, even the best of dogs are known to misbehave. The key here is to have your furball wear the PFD, personal flotation device, at all times so that you can grab them and pull them back on board.

Keep eye contact with your dog, keep talking to them, so that they are as calm as possible. This situation will be ten times better if your dog knows how to swim. Also, paddle towards them calmly while taking care of the paddle movement so that you don’t hit your dog.

Kayak Tipping

But what if the whole kayak tips over and both you and your dog are in the water. The first thing that you have to do is to keep eye contact with your little friend, swim towards them, and hold them under their front legs.

Next, you’ll have to go for your paddle, keep it away from your dog, and place it on top of your kayak in a place where it won’t roll into the water again. If your kayak is facing downwards, you’ll have to flip it back.

Then haul your dog back onto their seat and bring yourself back up. If you can’t do that, as getting back on a kayak after it has flipped is very hard, swim along with your kayak with your dog on board.

Don’t forget to continuously reassure them because they’ll be freaked out by the fact that you’re in the water and they’re not.

4. Equipment Needed

PFD (Personal Flotation Device)

Your dog’s life jacket is essential even if they know how to swim, as it’ll be the difference between life and death. Plus, nowadays life jackets are completely suited for dogs, you don’t have to buy one that’s for children and fit it to your dog.

Food and Water

Food and water are mandatory if you’re going out for a longer trip. There’s no need to starve your dog, as we’ve discussed the point of toilet trips before. The sun and water are bound to tire out your dog, so they’ll have to refuel themselves.

Sun Protection

You’ll have to try a bunch of different things to figure out what works best for your dog. Hats, plus coverups for their arms, legs, and paws so that the sun does not hurt their delicate skin.

Also, if you’re going out for a longer time, you’re going to have Neosporin or anything to prevent paw inflammation. Additionally, if you’re going to camp somewhere, or stay outside for more than one day, don’t forget to take their bed with you. That bed has to be waterproof so that they’re laying comfortably.

First Aid Kit

First aid kit for your dog. That involves his medication, some bandages, and wound treatment. Also, don’t forget the poison kit.


A leash for when you get off the kayak. Never leash your dog or tie them when they’re on the kayak, this is incredibly dangerous. Nevertheless, when you get off the kayak, and you want to keep your dog next to you, so that they don’t fall back into the water by accident, leash your little friend.

Final Thoughts

This covers our guide on how to safely take your dog kayaking. Don’t forget that every dog is different from the other. Be sure to study your dog’s reactions and habits so that you can make a routine with them.

They’ll understand when you go out and bring out your kayak that they’ll have to put on their life jacket, their hat, lay down on this structure, and be as calm as possible.

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