Kayaking can be a very fun and exciting outing for the entire family including the family dog. When deciding whether or not to take your furry friend out on the water with you it is important to consider both your individual dog’s needs and the breed in general to know how well they will do in the kayak. You’ll even want to make sure you’re using the best dog friendly kayaks available. If your dog is not a fan of the water then it may not be the best activity for them. Hyper dogs that can’t sit still or are not great during car rides are also not great candidates for kayaking. But if your dog loves the water or at least is interested in it then it might be worthwhile to start introducing them to the kayaking experience.
How to introduce my dog to kayaking:
It is never a good idea to just toss your dog in a boat and set sail. They can panic and end up causing a lot of stress and potential injury to both of you. It is recommended that you start out testing how your dog does on land in the kayak and if they seem comfortable in the boat for long periods of times and wearing a life vest. If they are okay with this then get in and invite your dog to get in with you. Get them use to jumping in and out of the kayak while on land before getting them use to shallower water as the kayak bobs a little. When you do get to your first kayaking journey, start out on shallower and calm water and also test how they do under stress like having to get in and out of the boat while on water.
Safety equipment needed for your dog:
No one wants to think about the bad things that can happen but you need to be ready for them and being properly prepared for the negative can not only keep you safe, but your dog as well.
Life Vest: No matter how strong a swimmer your dog is, it needs to wear a live vest at all times when kayaking. The life vest is the most important piece of kayaking safety equipment regardless of your species and should never be on the water without one. You’ll also need a life vest or PFD for yourself as well.
Leash: A leash, or better yet two, are another piece of safety gear that you need to have with you when taking your dog kayaking. A harness to go underneath the life vest that you can attach the leash to is also recommended because it is far easier to get your dog back in the boat this way rather than jumping in after them or risk capsizing. Be weary of longer leashes as they can cause problems when the boat capsizes getting caught on something.
You should never tie your dog to the boat because it limits their ability to swim if something goes wrong. You should also avoid pulling them back in by the collar as this can be harmful to them and they might slip out of it. Keep a secure harness on the dog and have a spare leash on hand so you always have one ready in case of emergencies.
Sunscreen: Yes, dogs get sunburn too and it is important to keep them protected while out in the sun all day. You can look online or talk to your vet to see which brand is right for you.
First aid kit: Neosporin, peroxide and bandages should all be included in the first aid kit for your dog. When in doubt ask your vet what they recommend for your specific pet and they can help you make a list.
Other things to pack for your dog:
Toys and treats: You want to reward your dog for being well behaved in the kayak and an easy way to do this is with treats while on the water and some well deserved play time on land with some toys. Make sure they know they did good and help them have some fun as a reward and an incentive to be good on every kayaking trip.
Lots of water: Your dog may not be the one paddling but they still need water just as much as you do. The sun’s reflection off the water can help dehydrate your dog and to keep you both healthy and having fun pack a lot of water and a bowl or cup for them to drink out of.
A blanket: This isn’t just to dry your dog off after getting wet, but to provide some comfort for your dog as they might get nervous on their first few trips. Bring something from home that smells familiar and help them relax by making it feel more like what they are use to.
A Pad: A water proof sleep pad is also recommended so your dog has somewhere comfortable to lay during the journey if they want to. Any kind of mat or pad that provides a little extra comfort is always a good idea so they will want to stay put in the kayak and won’t have to do a lot of moving around just to get comfortable. If your dog isn’t comfortable in the kayak they are less likely to behave and sit still during your journey.
Poop bags: This one is pretty self-explanatory but just incase it slipped your mind you need to bring bags for your dog so they can go to the bathroom. You can have your dog go before starting your kayaking trip, but no matter how short the trip may be, you do not want to be stuck in a kayak without bags if your dog needs to go.
Best types of kayaks for dogs:
Single vs Tandem: Out of the two options a tandem kayak is preferred because they are larger and allow for a space for your dog to sit. While this is a heavier kayak it is better to have a designated spot your dog can be in rather than trying to fit them in and hope they get comfortable.
Sit On Top vs Sit In: For kayaking with your dog it can be easier to go with a sit on top model over a sit in. The lack of a cock pit allows your dog to sprawl out and get comfortable without feeling confined or closed in.
Fishing kayak: Fishing kayaks are often overlooked as options for dog friendly boats but they can actually work well for them. This is because they are one of the most stable kayak options and can allow you to sit or stand with relative ease. They will also have a lot of room for storage so you don’t have to worry about cramming everything into a small space.
Kayak types to avoid:
- Sea Kayak: the shape of a sea kayak is not ideal for kayaking with a dog because it is very long with pointed ends. This makes them narrower and not as stable or comfortable to fit you and your dog.
- White Water Kayak: You should never bring your dog on anything other than calm water and rapids are the absolute epidemy of kayaking with your dog no-nos. This type of kayak is not ideal for dogs either because it relies heavily on steering with your entire body so it is extremely sensitive to movement of any kind and leaves no extra room for the dog.
Can my dog ride in an inflatable kayak?
Yes, most inflatable kayaks are designed to be tough and able to handle the toenails of a dog. Regardless of the size of your dog, these kayaks have to be tough to handle rough waters and debris and can actually be a great option for dogs as they offer more stability and comfort for them over the hard body options. Always look into the product specifications to find out how durable the kayak is no matter what type you are getting and find the one that best fits you and your dog’s needs.
Factors to consider when picking out a dog friendly kayak:
Width and Stability: Especially when you are first starting to bring your dog kayaking, you need to have enough stability to accommodate a nervous dog. A good rule of thumb is that the wider the kayak, the more stable it is. It is also good to have a lower center of gravity with your kayak to prevent tipping.
Size and Storage: Obviously a larger dog will require a larger kayak so you should measure your dog or better yet bring your dog to the store and have them get in it to make sure it will work. You need to make sure the kayak is not only big enough to fit you and your dog, but all the extra gear you will need for them. Make lists of what you need and figure out just how much storage space you need and find a kayak that provides that. When in doubt remember that it is better to have too much storage space rather than too little. You want your dog to be comfortable so they will be more likely to relax and sit or lay down rather than pace or try to jump out.
Weight Capacity: Make sure to weigh your dog and your gear, not just yourself because they all factor into the total weight capacity. When in doubt go with the higher weight capacity just to be safe.
Best Dog Friendly Kayaks:
- Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak: This is an inflatable option that is seen as one of the best options for dog kayaking. It can accommodate even the heaviest of dogs and is designed for maximum stability.
Dimensions: 12ft length, 30in width, 10in depth, weighs 24.6 pounds with a weight capacity of 500 pounds.
Pros: Can hold two people and a dog
- K-80 Polykrylar material
- Tear resistant
- Great for any size dog
- Designed for ultra-stability
- Five tube design
- Two molded skegs
- Easy to paddle
- Easy transport and storing
- Inflates in 6 minutes
- Cons: Seats don’t offer a lot of back support
- Lifetime 10 ft Sport Fisher: This kayak is a great option for kayakers who want to bring their dog along and works well for larger dog breeds. This model is designed to be tough and last through the years and even comes with a complimentary factory 5 year warranty.
Dimensions: 10ft length. 36in width, 19in depth, weighs 65 pounds with a 500 pound weight capacity.
- Pros: Sit on top style
– Durable polyethylene plastic
– Can hold up to 3 people
– Designed for maximum stability
– Great for large dog owners
– Fade, crack and peel resistant
– 5 year warranty
- Cons: Heavy for a kayak
- Perception Kayak Pescador Pro: While it is the most expensive kayak on the list it is well worth the price. Designed for comfort and made out of only high quality materials, this kayak is perfect for bringing your dog along and you can rearrange the seats to accommodate your dog’s preferences.
Dimensions: 12ft length, 32.5in width, 14.5in depth, weighs 64 pounds with a 375 weight capacity.
- Pros: Great stability
- Removable seat
- Adjustable seat
- Abundance of storage
- Designed for comfort
- Built in buoyancy
- Leak proof design
- Premium quality materials
- Cons: Expensive
- Perception Kayak Pescador ProThis is a great option for dogs that like to move around or can’t sit still. The kayak offers a variety of seating options and can sit three bodies comfortably. While it is a compact design it is on the heavier side for dog friendly kayaks and can be a bit difficult to load and unload from the car.
Dimensions: 12ft length, 34in width, weighs 57 pounds with a 425 pound weight capacity.
- Pros: tandem
- Sit on top
- Can fit two people and a dog
- Various seating options
- Deck storage
- Cons: Can be cumbersome
- Heavier than other kayaks
- Perception Hi Life: While it does have a relatively small weight capacity compared to other kayaks on the list, this model makes up for it in features. It is a great option for smaller dogs and comes with a swim deck to help your dog get in and out of the kayak while on the water.
Dimensions: 11ft length, 34in width, 12in depth, weighs 55 pounds with a 280 weight capacity.
- Pros: Designed for kayaking and paddle boarding
- Nonslip padding
- Fold down seat
- Storage options
- Swim deck allowing for easy access back into the boat
- Cons: Smaller weight capacity
Sevyor Coleman Colorado: This is another great inflatable option made of durable materials and can comfortably fit two people. This model is incredibly easy to transport and with its own device included, inflating and deflating your kayak occurs quickly and easily.
Dimensions: 10ft 9in length, 39in width, weighs 37 pounds with a 470 pound weight capacity
- Pros: inflatable and easy to transport and store
- Designed for two people
- Puncture resistant
- Designed for comfort and stability
- Two adjustable seats
- Lots of storage options
- Comes with its own mechanism to inflate and deflate easily
- Cons: no major flaws
- Lifetime 10 ft Manta: A prime example of durability and strength while also being comfortable and lightweight, this kayak gives you the best of both world with a lot of great dog friendly features. The seats are designed specifically to keep you off the kayak floor so you stay dry throughout your journey and even comes with it’s own paddles.
Dimensions: 10ft length, 28.5in width, weighs 47 pounds with a 325-500 pound weight capacity.
- Pros: Soft backrests
- Comes with paddles
- Molded carry handles for easy transport
- Tunnel hull design
- Stay dry seats
- Cons: Not great on still water
- No built in buoyancy feature
- Advanced Elements Kayak: Another option that is on the pricier side but well worth the money is this model. Designed to withstand almost anything while still being comfortable and able to fit three bodies. This is an inflatable option and even have a few dog friendly features like padded seats that your furry friend will really enjoy.
Dimensions: 10ft 5in length, 32in width, weighs 36 pounds with a 300 pound weight capacity.
- Pros: Available in two colors
- High quality materials
- Extremely durable
- Padded and supported seats
- Three seats
- Three layers of material
- Puncture, abrasion, and impact resistant
- Cons: Can get pricey
- Sun Dolphin 10ft Bali SS: This can be a good option for experienced dogs with two different sizing options and plenty of storage including a PAC with every purchase. The larger option is required for larger dogs and with the smaller weight capacity and ability to tip under a lot of movement you should stick to smaller dogs and get them use to the kayak before getting on the water.
Dimensions: 10ft length, 30in width, weighs 44 pounds with a 250 pound weight capacity.
- Pros: Comes in a variety of colors
- Sit on top design
- Lots of leg room
- Water tight storage in the back
- Comes with Portable Accessory Carrier (PAC) for additional storage
- Lightweight and versatile
- Also comes in a 12ft option
- Cons: Can tip under a lot of movement
- Easy to get wet with this model
- Not for huge dogs
- Smaller weight capacity