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Pawsome Kayaking: Your Dog's Next Favorite Activity

Kayaking With Dog

Kayaking With Dog

Updated on 9/29/2023
Abigail ScottBy Abigail Scott
I'm Abigail Scott, an author, adventurer, and mother of three. When I'm not navigating the beautiful chaos of motherhood, you can find me tackling the turbulent waters as a professional whitewater kayaker or scaling impressive rock faces as a climbing guide. The rush of adrenaline, whether from kayaking or climbing, is a feeling I cherish deeply. But the thrill doesn't stop there; I capture the breathtaking allure of nature through my lens as a professional photographer. And when I'm not submerged in the wild, my software engineering skills amplify my outdoor pursuits, allowing me to harness technology in unique ways. Through my writings, whether articles or blog posts, I share not just my adventures but my heart, hoping to spark a flame of inspiration in others to break boundaries and experience the world's wonders.
Learn More about Abigail Scott

Taking your dog kayaking can be a great adventure for you both. There is some prep work to be done before your pet goes paddling, but it is definitely worth it. It takes a little know-how to train your dog to love the water, as well as learn which kayaks are best for dogs.

Kayaking with your dog: Is it a good idea?

It depends on the dog whether it is a good kayaking companion or not. As important as choosing a kayak that is dog-friendly is ensuring that your furry friend is well suited for kayaking. Even if your dog isn't suited to kayaking right away, you can build up to it over time by practicing in a safe environment.


Kayaks can quickly become unsafe if a dog becomes overly frantic. However, you should also consider your dog's personality as well as its training. Dogs may give in to distractions such as anglers and waterfowl. Kayaks can tip over when excited dogs take to the water to chase one another.


The importance of discipline cannot be overstated. Is your dog able to respond quickly to simple commands such as "sit," "stay," "go to your place," and "lay down"? An overturned kayak can be avoided if your dog is trained to control his excitement.

It is never a good idea to tie your dog down in a kayak. Tiedowns can become a major problem if the boat overturns. Your dog must obey just your commands, which is why knowing this is so important.

A comfortable experience on the water

Does your dog like water? Do they tolerate personal floatation devices (PFDs, or life jackets)? Do they have the ability to swim? When deciding whether to take them kayaking, you should consider all of these factors. Make sure your pet isn't in a stressful or unsafe situation.

If your dog is good in cars, you can expect them to behave in a boat as well. You might be able to kayak with your dog if they're relaxed on car trips. You may need to spend a little extra time working with them before heading for the water if they get antsy on the road.

Getting Your Dog Ready for Kayaking

There will be a learning curve for your dog when it comes to kayaking. You'll have to introduce them to the water, as well as your kayak. You should make sure your dog is at ease with the kayak you plan on using, even if he is used to boats. Preparing your dog for boating may take some time, but it won't necessarily take much. Your time on the water, no matter how long it lasts, will be crucial in keeping you and your dog safe.

Swim regularly

Start by letting your dog paddle around somewhere safe if they aren't already comfortable with water. As well as practicing swimming with their personal floatation device (PFD), make sure they also practice with their life jackets. It is not strictly necessary for your dog to swim if he wears a PFD while you fish him out of the water. However, it still makes sense to teach them. Having your dog used to swimming will make the trip much smoother. You can pick them up and return them to their place while they return on their own to the kayak.

Introducing Your Dog to Kayaking

The boat itself must also be practiced by your dog. Your yard or the shore would be good places to put your boat. Get your dog used to the boat without the added complication of water by sitting with you on it.

Your dog will love finding treats hidden in the kayak. When they approach the kayak or sit in it, praise them. When your dog comes to investigate, you can sit in the kayak and pet them, treat them, and praise them while they sit in the boat with you. A good association between your dog and the boat is the goal. Kayaks are places where good things happen (even if it's just a great nap).

Make boating a regular part of your life

You and your dog will have a better time if you know what's coming. Become familiar with the process of getting in and out of the kayak. Dogs often enter boats first, followed by their owners. The reverse should be done when taking out. Follow your dog out of the boat after you exit.

Dogs benefit from this ritual because it provides reliability and consistency. Additionally, it reinforces your authority over when they enter and exit the boat. The command "leave the boat" will prevent your dog from engaging in that behavior on his own.

Kayaking Commands for Dogs

A lot of basic commands become even more important on the water, and you may need to teach them special commands just for boating. It is much easier to kayak with a dog if they are trained to behave well.

When a dog is anxious or energetic, telling them to "go to your place" is a great way to redirect them. Choosing a designated mat or bed as the "place" is more effective than just telling your dog to be quiet when he barks at a delivery truck. If you redirect their energy, it's easier than if you don't. Dogs should have a soft, comfortable "place" in kayaks. Carpet can be used indoors and outdoors by some people. The spot should be your dog's, no matter what you use it for. On command, they should readily return to the place where they enjoy being.

When it comes to intense situations, "Leave it" is a wonderful tool. By giving your dog something even more exciting in return, you can teach them to ignore high-reward distractions. When dogs learn to "leave it," they appear to be paragons of self-control. You'll appreciate having that self-control on the water.

Using a command such as "Up," or "Get in," your dog can enter the kayak.  You should always instruct them to enter and exit the boat.

Likewise, tell your dog to leave when you want him to. There are some people who simply say “Hup!” Others say “Get out,” or “Leave now!”

Your dog may know a command that lets them know they can jump in and swim around if the water is safe enough to swim in. In order to make sure they only jump into the water when you truly want them to, you may use the same command you use to get them to leave the boat.

Get in the habit of putting in and taking out

Getting into and out of the water in your kayak should be practiced once your dog is obedient and comfortable with water. Get in the boat with your dog after he has entered the boat. Make sure both of you are in the kayak before pushing off. Being in the water can be a new and unusual sensation for your dog, so your presence will help reassure them.

It is likely that your dog will hop out a few times at first. That's fine with me! That's why you're taking things slowly. They are new to this. Once they feel comfortable in the kayak, help them get in and stay in it.

You may want to give your dog a rest if it begins to freak out. Be comforting, reassuring, and let them go. Your dog must be comfortable for this to work. It's unlikely that they'll want to go boating with you if they associate the water with stress and fear. It should be a fun experience for them to paddle for the first time.

It is impossible to generalize about dogs. The first few trips may not be enough for your dog to "get it". It is possible that your dog loves kayaking more than anything else in the world from the very beginning. The only way to find out is to try. Regardless of how you choose to do it, you'll have a boating buddy for a lifetime once you've completed the initial training.

What is the best kayak for dogs?

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem

Product tested by Board and Kayak
Our Overall Review

Things we like:

  • The seat rests relatively roomy, making it possible for paddlers of varying heights, weights, and builds to enjoy themselves while using this kayak.
  • Lifetime guarantee is priceless.
  • With the purchase of Malibu Two XL, you are entitled to a limited warranty of a lifetime.
  • It has an extra-comfortable cockpit with comfortable seat backs and foot braces.
  • Throughout the kayak, there are plenty of storage options.
  • Carrying and transporting Malibu Two XL kayak is easy.
  • Malibu Two XL has the capacity to accommodate two people at once.
  • Besides being durable, it is also made of a rigid material that is resistant to abrasion.

Things we don't like:

  • Paddles are not included.
  • Separately from the comfort plus seatbacks, they have a cost.
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Read full review

Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Product tested by Board and Kayak
Our Overall Review

Things we like:

  • Construction that is resistant to puncturing and the use of many chambers
  • Inflatable and low-weight for convenience in portability
  • Extremely broad in comparison to its length.
  • A trolling motor may be installed if desired.

Things we don't like:

  • Larger paddlers may find that the 470-pound capacity is insufficient for their needs.
  • There is not enough stiffness in the floor for standing.
  • There are insufficient storage possibilities for two persons carrying hunting equipment.
  • A shooting pain looking for something lightweight, portable, and affordable may find that the Sevylor Coleman Colorado is an appropriate entry-level duck hunting kayak for their needs.
Show more
Read full review

Perception Pescador Pro 10

Our Overall Review
Read full review

Sea Eagle 3-Person Sport Kayak Canoe


Frequently Asked Questions

Where does a dog sit in a kayak?

The answer to this question depends on the size and temperament of your dog, as well as the design of your kayak. Small dogs can usually sit on your lap or in the cockpit area in front of you. Larger dogs may need to sit in the middle of the kayak or at the back. Some kayaks even have designated dog seats or decks that allow your furry friend to sit or lie down comfortably. It's important to ensure your dog is comfortable and secure, and that their movements won't affect the stability of the kayak.

What do you do with a dog while kayaking?

While kayaking, it's important to keep a close eye on your dog and make sure they are safe and comfortable. Some dogs may prefer to sit quietly and enjoy the scenery, while others may want to move around or even jump in the water. You should bring plenty of water and treats for your dog, as well as a life jacket designed specifically for canines. It's a good idea to start with short trips and gradually increase the duration and distance of your kayaking adventures, so your dog can build up their strength and endurance.

How do I secure my dog in a kayak?

The best way to secure your dog in a kayak will depend on their size, temperament, and the design of your kayak. A life jacket designed for dogs is essential, as it will help keep them afloat and visible in the water. Some kayaks also have straps or clips that can be used to secure your dog to the kayak, while others may require you to use a harness and leash. It's important to make sure your dog is comfortable and can move around a bit, but not too much that it affects the balance of the kayak.

Is it easier to kayak or canoe with a dog?

Both kayaking and canoeing can be done with a dog, but the experience will differ depending on the activity. Kayaking can be more stable and maneuverable, making it easier to control the kayak and your dog in the water. Canoeing, on the other hand, offers more space for your dog to move around and may be more comfortable for larger dogs. Ultimately, the best option will depend on your dog's size and temperament, as well as your personal preference and experience with each activity.

Do dogs enjoy kayaking?

Many dogs enjoy kayaking, as it allows them to explore new sights, sounds, and smells in a different environment. However, not all dogs are comfortable in or around water, and it's important to introduce your dog to kayaking gradually and at their own pace. It's also important to be aware of the weather and water conditions, and to avoid kayaking in rough or choppy waters that could be dangerous for your dog.

Can a large dog fit in a kayak?

It's possible for a large dog to fit in a kayak, but it will depend on the size of the dog and the design of the kayak. Some kayaks have enough space to accommodate larger breeds, while others may be too small or unstable. It's important to choose a kayak that is appropriate for your dog's size and weight, and to make sure they are comfortable and secure while on the water. Gradually introducing your dog to kayaking, starting with short trips, will help them build up their strength and confidence on the water.