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How to Safely Kayak with Your Dog


If you love being out on the water kayaking or canoeing and have a dog, it’s time to bring your two loves together. Paddling with your pup can be a fun bonding experience, especially for dogs who enjoy the water. Even if your dog doesn’t enjoy swimming, they may just enjoy being with you and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of being out on the water.

If they do like to swim, then kayaking is not only a great workout for you, but also a great cross training workout that’s easy on the joints for them. Break up your walk routine and kayak with your dog.

Safety Tips for Kayaking with Your Dog

Before you hit the lake on your kayak, here are a few tips to keep in mind about kayaking with your dog.

Get Your Dog a Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

Just like you, even if your dog is a good swimmer and experienced on the water, it’s important to always wear a flotation device. Here’s why. If your dog falls out or jumps out without your permission and gets scared, the PFD will hold him/her up until you can get to them. Dog PFDs have a handle that makes for easy “pickup” which will aid you in getting your dog back into your kayak or up on the dock. If your dog is too big to be lifted by the handle it will still give you something to hold onto and steer them in the right direction.

Get Your Dog Familiar with Your Kayak

Some dogs are not good at sitting still and get very anxious in the kayak. Start by having your dog sit in the kayak while it’s still on dry land to get familiar with it. Move it around a bit so the get a feel for how it might rock and show them that there’s nothing to be afraid of. This is also a great time to determine what size kayak you need for kayaking with your dog. Some will sit fine in a one-person kayak, others will be more comfortable in a tandem kayak and depending on the size of your dog, you may need a tandem to be able to paddle.

Give Your Dog a Comfortable Place in the Kayak

Your dog’s comfort is key to a successful kayaking trip. For your dog to be comfortable in the kayak, you may need to cover the floor so he or she isn’t slipping and sliding when the kayak is in motion. It’s important to find something that won’t move when water gets under it as well. Indoor-outdoor carpet is good option for covering the floor of a canoe. For kayaks, the adhesive traction mats that are sold for stand-up paddle boards tend to work well.

Build Up Your Confidence as a Paddler

Before you head out with your dog, make sure you are sure of your own skills. You don’t have to be an expert kayaker by any means to enjoy a kayaking trip with your dog. There are plenty of still lakes with few distractions, but in general you’ll both have a much better and safer time together if you and your dog aren’t both uncertain and inexperienced on the water.

Train your Dog to Get in and Out of the Kayak

Before taking off, it’s a good idea to brush up on some basic obedience commands for your pup. Sit, stay and down are all good ones, but make sure you add a command for getting in and out of the kayak as well. And it’s not a bad idea to practice these commands in the kayak on dry land before heading out for the first time.

Take it Easy at First

For your first outing the ocean or a fast river is probably not the best option. Try a calm lake, pond or bay that you are familiar with. Try to stay where your dog could easily swim back to shore if needed. And pick a time of day when there will be fewer people and dogs out on the water so there will be less distractions for your dog. You may even want to bring along another person, so you have an extra set of hands in case you need help keeping your dog calm.

Teach Your Dog Good Paddling Etiquette

We all share the water, so it’s important to practice and instill good paddling etiquette with your dog. Teach your dog not to jump out of the kayak unless given the command. You don’t want them dashing off the kayak every time something catches their eye. You should also train your dog not to bark at or harass the wildlife or other paddlers out on the water. Also always clean up after your dog to keep our waters clean and safe.

Safely Store Your Kayak until Your Next Adventure

Although no one who loves being on the water wants to put their equipment away, a kayak storage rack will keep your property looking cleaner, your equipment lasting longer and allow you to get back out on the water faster. The durable storage systems from Log Kayak Rack are weather resistant, which allows them to be utilized as both indoor and outdoor storage solutions. Shop our quality kayak, canoe, and paddle board storage racks online or send us a message for a custom kayak storage solution.