How To Kayak With A Dog

Dog’s are our best friends. So, it’s natural to want to take them everywhere with you. You can take your dog for a walk, on a hike, jogging, or even swimming with you, but have you thought about kayaking with your dog? 

We’ve all seen the pictures and posts of dogs going on adventures with their owners. There have even been dogs on paddle boards and surfboards in the past.

So, how about taking your furry friend on your next kayaking adventure? With this guide, we’ve got everything you need to know about kayaking with your dog! 

How To Kayak With A Dog

Things To Consider Before Kayaking With Your Dog

If you are competent at kayaking, then there is no reason why you cannot take our dog with you. Dogs make great kayaking companions and passengers, but you need to teach them some basic skills before you start taking them out on the water. 

Before you make any moves, you need to ask yourself a few questions first. For example, is your dog comfortable and confident around water? Can your dog swim? Will your dog be comfortable in a life jacket or PFD?

Does your dog follow commands easily? Can your dog be obedient and ignore distractions such as other dogs/sticks/animals? If your dog is fine with all of those, then they will be perfect on a kayak!

To get your dog ready for kayaking, you will want to get them accustomed to the movement on the kayak while on land first. This will get them used to being in the boat, and moving around in the boat without the instability of floating on water as this can spook them. 

You will also want to teach your dog to hop in and out of the kayak, and get them used to walking on the plastic, slippery surface of the kayak. The best way to do this is by simply rewarding them for doing the right thing.

If you have a nervous dog, who is afraid of the rocking, uneven feel of the kayak, then let them take it slow and reward them every step of the way. 

You can try sitting in the kayak yourself, and encouraging your dog to come in with you with treats. Praise your dog whenever they take an interest in the kayak, or try to clamber onboard.

You can also hide treats for your dog to sniff out in the kayak to get them to go into it. Make sure you practice with them sitting comfortably in the kayak, and reward good behavior. 

You should also teach your dog to only jump off or out of the kayak with your permission, and on your command. This will keep them safe when out on the water.

Before you do take your dog anywhere, you will need to get them a personal flotation device, or a life jacket. This will ensure your dog’s safety if they fall off the kayak, jump out or try to swim back to shore. 

We recommend purchasing one with a handle on the top so that you can pick them up to put them back in the kayak, or place them back onto the dock. For instance, this one from Outward Hound comes in sizes from XS to XL, is brightly colored for visibility and has two handles on the top for securing your dog.

How To Kayak With Your Dog 

When you’re ready to start kayaking with your dog, you will want to start off slowly. We recommend that you first try your dog on the kayak on flat water. Avoid rivers and the ocean, and see how you go with calm waters like a pond or lake.

You should also start close to the shore, so that your dog can jump out and swim back to the dock if they become uncomfortable.

In addition to this, make sure you take a friend with you in case you need help calming your dog until they grow used to the kayaking situation. Ensure that you stick together in the kayak so that the dog does not get confused about who they should go with. 

Once you have gotten your dog accustomed to being on the kayak, you can practice some commands such as: ‘in your spot’ when you need them to sit in their designated spot.

You can teach them this by placing a towel or blanket where you need them to ride. Then, tell them to sit or stay when they’re in their spot, and when you need to maneuver the kayak. 

You can also teach your dog to ‘leave’ items floating nearby in the water such as balls, sticks, seals, dogs, dolphins, you name it. Your dog needs to know that you are the boss, in control and they cannot jump out of the kayak. 

In addition, you can teach your dog a command such as ‘Yes’ or ‘Okay’ when it’s fine for them to jump from the kayak into the water, or when it’s time for them to swim. This is why it is worth practicing near the shallows, and on flat water at first until you are confident in your dog’s ability to obey your orders, and when they are confident on the kayak with you. 

As a rule of thumb, make sure that you and your dog are always wearing a personal floatation device or lifejacket just to be safe. You can always use the tab to lift your dog back into the kayak in an emergency situation. 

Finally, we have to reinforce that you should only take your dog out kayaking if you are confident that they will not be distracted, and that they will always follow your commands. Taking a dog that will not listen to you will not only put them in danger, but could put you in danger, too. 

If your dog is well trained, confident swimming and raring to go, then head out on the water! 

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