Kayaking is a great way to spend some time outdoors with you and your best friend. If you have the right attitude, it can be an excellent bonding experience for you and your dog that can strengthen your relationship. Keep in mind that kayaking with a dog isn’t exactly like riding on the back of dad’s motorcycle around town – there are certain precautions you’ll need to take.
Before you rent out kayaks just for yourself and your dog, you should check with your local authorities about rules and regulations in your area. Some bodies of water do not allow dogs at all, especially if they are home to rare wildlife. If it’s okay for other people to bring their dogs, you may need to create some guidelines for yourself and your pet.
Here are a few kayaking with dog tips:
Wear a Life Preserver
Your dog should always wear a life preserver, even if he’s an expert swimmer. It doesn’t matter how good of a swimmer your pup is, what matters is that you’re both safe – you can take precautions for both of you.
Always Be on a Leash
Your dog should always be on a leash, especially if he’s still learning his way around boats. You should also attach the leash to something other than your kayak – after all, what happens if you capsize? If you’re attached to one another with a leash and you flip over, you’re both in serious trouble.
Once your dog is used to the water and how the kayak behaves, you can take him off the leash so he can swim around. If you tie a long rope to his life preserver, you’ll be able to pull him back if he starts swimming away from you.
The right kayak for your dog
Tandem vs. single kayaks. This is up to you, but keep in mind that if your dog’s anything like mine, he’ll want to take the spot behind the steering wheel. If you’re out with another person and each of you wants to control the boat or if other people are joining you on the water, you might want to go for a tandem kayak. Learning how to control them can be a bit tricky, but they aren’t too hard to maneuver once you get the hang of it.
As with anything else in life, proper preparation is key when kayaking with your dog. If you’re serious about taking him out on the water (and he’s allowed!), do your research. Visit your local kayak rental store to get the full rundown on how to make this a safe and fun experience for both of you.
Learn your dog’s likes and dislikes
There are dogs that love being around water. There are also dogs who can’t stand it and will hate kayaking with you immediately. The temperament of your dog has a lot to do with how well he or she does in new environments. Depending on your dog’s personality, it’ll be easier or harder to teach him how to kayak with you.
Get your dog used to the kayak first
If possible, get in the kayak yourself first and take your dog around the backyard for a little while before hitting the open water.
Before Purchasing a kayak:
There are a few things to take into consideration before you purchase a kayak for both you and your dog to use together.
Length of the kayak: if you’re going to be taking frequent long trips in your kayak, then your dog will need to be able to fit in something that doesn’t add too much weight. If the kayak is weighty, it might affect your speed and your ability to reach your destination in a timely fashion.
Width of the kayak: again, if you have long crossings or are just doing short trips on calm rivers or lakes, then your dog doesn’t need to be in a kayak that’s too wide. However, if you plan on doing crossings where the water is rougher (and you don’t have cell reception), it might be better to opt for something with more width.
Materials of the kayak: there are all kinds of kayaks available for dogs to travel in. They can be made out of fiberglass, plastic or even wood.
Wheels: if your dog is going to be spending a lot of time riding in the kayak, it might be worth investing in wheels to make transporting it easier for you and your pup.
Don’t forget that the more you take your dog kayaking, the better he or she will become at tolerating water and other environmental factors.
Packing list for kayaking with a dog
While it’s not always essential to prepare everything in advance, there are some things you should definitely bring along on your trips if you want them to be safe and fun.
Life jacket for your dog: you can’t always rely on your dog having his sea legs. Just like humans, dogs sometimes fall asleep in the middle of a kayak trip—and that can be potentially dangerous if they start to lean to one side or roll around too much. If you have a large dog, you might want to consider getting him a life jacket that’s approved for humans (since they’re usually designed with larger breeds in mind). Regardless, make sure the life jacket is properly secured and fits snugly.
Water for your dog: if your kayak doesn’t come equipped with a water supply, it’s a good idea to bring along something your dog can drink. Don’t forget to pack some snacks for yourself, too (but leave them out of reach from your pup).
Waste bags: unless you want to end up on the front page of the local newspaper with a picture of you and your dog holding one of your dog’s “products,” you better bring some bags to pick it up with.
A Kong toy: if your dog is accustomed to chewing on his Kong when in the kayak, then you can be sure that he’ll keep busy and won’t try to chew on anything else (which could lead to a capsize).
Sunscreen: it might be obvious, but your dog needs sunscreen just like you do. You don’t want him to get a sunburn while kayaking—especially if he’s going to be spending a lot of time in the water.
Waterproof camera: while most smartphones have pretty good cameras, you might want to consider getting a waterproof camera if you’re planning on taking lots of pictures (or videos) while kayaking.
Dog life jacket: depending on how often your dog travels in the kayak with you, it could be worth buying him his own life jacket. While they can be expensive, you’ll save a lot of money in the long run by not having to keep buying your dog a life jacket every time you travel with him.
Travel dog bowl: if you’re bringing water and snacks for yourself, then it might be worth getting a travel food and water bowl as well. That way, you can just let your dog have some water without having to stop paddling.
Kayaking with your dog is a great way to bond with them and spend some quality time together. But before you take off on your first kayaking trip, make sure you’ve done all the necessary preparations—including taking your pup on training trips so he or she can get used to water and traveling in a kayak.