How to Kayak with Your Dog: Things to Consider

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Do you have a dog?

Then, you should certainly give dog kayaking a thought. It’s not like a regular trip. Whether you’ve been kayaking for a while or you’re somewhat new to the sport, it’s a total let-down when you can’t but leave your dog behind every time you hit the water.

Before we unlock details of the preparation needed for dog kayaking, let’s look into what you need for a secure kayaking experience with your dog.

Best Kayaks for Dogs

There are three aspects to judge when settling on a kayak that would work best for your pup:

  • Stability – You want a kayak that is stable and that tracks well. A dog is likely to make back and forth movements. A stable kayak won’t tilt despite the movements.
  • Size – When the pup is enjoying the cruise and relaxing next to you, you want a generously spacious kayak so he can fit happily.
  • Weight – Your pal will add extra weight to your kayaking trip. So, you want a lightweight and inflatable kayak. This type of kayak allows easy paddling when possible.

Satisfying the above 3 points is why Sea Eagle made it to our top recommended brand of kayaks for dogs, with the below kayak beings our top pick:

THE SE 370 PRO KAYAK: Experts Recommendation

Our top recommendation for a dog friendly kayak goes to the SE 370 Pro. Like every kayak, this too comes with its own unique pros, but very little cons. Let’s review them:

  1. It can easily accommodate two people and a dog or two depending on size.
  2. It’s a solid build kayak, thus it can withstand dog claws even if not trimmed.
  3. It’s low-cost and versatile.

Various price points are available for do friendly kayaks. And, usability and price points will be budget friendly. You can choose a kayak and customize it further based on the package you choose.

Some kayaks aren’t fitting for dogs. So, keep that in mind when you’re looking to upgrade or purchase your first boat. You want to find a kayak that will comfortably fit both of you. The right type will definitely depend on the size of your dog and how much gear you plan on carrying.

You might want a kayak where your dog can feel free on the bow, or he might be more relaxed riding wedged by your feet. Consider your dog’s personality when picking one, too.

Nervous dogs might act better if kept close. Additionally, you can grab their collar if needed. On the other hand, a quiet dog who likes to take a nap would do well staying on the bow. Finding the best dog kayak has to align with the size of your dog, your budget.

 And, if you are planning on taking another human with you, the extra space will perfectly handle their presence. Judging from all aspects, I prefer my SE 370 over their smaller option, “the Sea Eagle 330”, as it can fit 2 plus 1.

Examine Your Dog

No matter how much you wish to take your dog on a kayaking trip, some dogs just don’t have the character or nature to be your kayaking buddy out on the water. A very hyperactive dog, for example, doesn’t just sit. The dog has a hard time sitting still might not be able to keep its cool for more than a few minutes.

Get your pup prepared for the tour he’s about to embark on. You should prepare your dog before you hit the water. The last thing you want is to be trapped out on the water managing your dog with one hand while you paddle with the other. 

Nervous dogs, particularly ones with distaste for water, might not like being wedged into a boat and then carried out on a vessel into the middle of the lake.

Everybody will have a botched trip if your dog doesn’t have the personality to enjoy a kayaking trip. So, consider his personality before you make him your kayaking partner.

Desensitizing Your Dog to the Kayak

Kayaks are big. They can look very scary, especially when your dog hasn’t seen one. Don’t just place him onto the kayak and expect him to go along with it. Let your dog discover the kayak on his own conditions and adjust to it on his own time. You can place the kayak inside your house or bring it out into the yard while your dog is playing.

Finally, you can get on the kayak and invite your dog onto the kayak. Now you pet him while you’re in it. In time, he might favor the idea of sitting in it with you. Let him fetch his favorite toy or a soft bed so he feels relaxed. Greenies treats always work as a good motivator to get him inside and matured, too.

Loading and Unloading

Dogs don’t do all that well when adjusting on the job. Don’t expect to carry him in your kayak and have him consider the experience like a duck to water. You’ll have to make sure your dog is accustomed to entering and exiting the kayak in a variety of scenarios.

You should begin training your dog on land because he probably won’t jump into a kayak that’s bobbling around in the water. As you encourage him to hop in, have him sit right away on command and then toss a special treat he doesn’t normally get. 

When you’re teaching him to swoop, have him sit again once he’s on land.

When you’ve taught him how to get in and out of the kayak, you’ll want to anchor the kayak to some shallow water that isn’t choppy. Hold the kayak at rest so it won’t move too much when he jumps in.

Needlessly to say, smaller dogs can be elevated, but you won’t be able to drop your 80 pound Labrador into a swaying watercraft singlehandedly. 

Once he jumped in, have the treats prepared and tell him to sit. He needs to get used to the fact that when he’s on the boat, he has to remain still and not agitated, waggle, or try to jump out (good luck if you have a water dog!).

This is when basic obedience is really expected; your dog should have a firm sit/down/stay gamut before joining you out on the water.

Go Slow!

You shouldn’t pull him out onto the water the first few times you have him in the boat. Keep the first few trips limited to just getting him used to load/sit/stay/unload commands. This will keep him from getting beset.

Dogs are less disposed to tension when they have an activity to focus on. Once he has improved the loading and unloading effort, then you can start to get on with paddling into the water for very short distances (who says ‘kayaking with a dog is going to be easy!).

Setting Off From the Shore

This is when a firm sit/stay is very significant. Your dog needs to remain in the kayak as you’re trying to dissuade it away from the shore. Some dogs will want to jump out when the boat starts shifting and you aren’t in it.

Keep repeating your “stay” command to assure him. Once you’re on the boat, you can start getting him adjust to the noises and motions of paddling. The oars startle some dogs and he might want to leap out once you start paddling. 

Keeping Your Dog Stay in the Kayak

“Stay” is a chief command when you’re moving, but he may completely ignore your commands if he sees something stirring. You’re going to come across a lot of wildlife on your kayaking trips, and some dogs just can’t hold their thrill when they see a bird, large fish, or even people on shore.

The best way to teach your dog is to train him to “leave it” when you are on land. Go to an eventful park or hiking trails crowded with wildlife. Training him to sit and stay by your side will keep him from jumping out of the kayak and tip you into the water with him thereby.

Necessary Dog Kayaking Gears

Your dog will need a few stuff as well as your personal gear. In addition, to make things easier, I discussed a short list of the essential items mentioned in this guide in the table below:

Name  Purpose 
Sea Eagle 380x Pro My top choice for a dog friendly kayak. Much roomy, quality built, and versatile.
Outward Hound Dog Life Jacket A PFD (Personal Floatation Device) for your pup.
Chuckit! Ultra Ball An exciting water toy to play after.
Milk-Bone MaroSnacks Use as a treat and reward.
Dog Paddling With Tiny Use it as a guide and a fun read.

Checklist: Safety Measure

  • First of all, your dog certainly needs a life vest (which will need extra exercise on land). Some people dispute that dogs are innate swimmers and don’t really need a vest, but that doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable to drowning. A life vest should be a must-have.
  • Carry your leash (and keep an extra stored in your pack).
  • Sunscreen is also essential; your dog’s nose and belly are vulnerable to burning.
  • Putting a harness on as well as their collar is a safety measure.
  • If he leaps out of the kayak, it’s easier to pull him back into the boat by his harness.
  • Finally, bring some water toys for him! Once you return to the land, prize his good behavior with a romp in the water. He will feel encouraged to sit in the boat once he learns that his behavior earns him some water playtime.
  • Note: Don’t forget to pack plenty of drinking water, a small meal (for yourself too ), and treats to continue your training.

Bottom Line

This site dedicated to kayaking, we’re giving away everything we have to offer for our readers. Experts blog on this site sharing practical tips and valuable advice about all things outdoors. This includes kayaking. In this article, we discussed the things you should consider if you’d like to take your dog with you on your next kayaking trip.

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