5 Mistakes to Avoid If You Plan On Kayaking With Your Dog

Are you ready to take your pup out for some fun on the water? It’s no surprise that most dogs love to swim. They have bodies that make it suitable to paddle in the water.

Some of the most common breeds that adapt well to water are Spaniels, Setters, Labradors, and Retrievers. While not all breeds are made for the water (we’re looking at you pugs and bulldogs), it’s still possible to take them out kayaking for some fun on a sunny day.

Assuming your dog isn’t terrified of the water, taking them out kayaking is a great way to spend the day. As long as your pup has a suitable lifejacket, they’re going to love taking in the ocean or lake view!

However, there are some common mistakes you want to avoid so that your fun trip doesn’t turn into a nightmare. So, without further ado, let’s see what five mistakes you should avoid when kayaking with your dog.

Mistake 1: Getting Your Dog Too Excited

Getting your dog all riled up is the last thing you want to do when you’re out on the water. Tipping over is a real possibility, so it’s important to keep them calm at all times. Ideally, you want to stay away from other wildlife creatures such as beavers, herons, and deer, especially if they’re prone to barking.

Have them follow basic commands such as sit, stay, and down. You may want to practice these skills on the boat before even getting into the water. It’s no fun overturning your kayak because your pup jumped up when he saw a fish jump or a bird flying by.

Things to Keep in Mind:

— Take them for a walk beforehand and make sure they go to the bathroom, so they aren’t looking for a place to pee out on the water

— Have a doggy water bottle, so they don’t lean over to drink water from the lake or ocean

Mistake 2: Choosing the Wrong Type of Kayak

It’s important to choose the right type of kayak for dogs if you plan on going out on the water with your pal. First off, you’ll need a tandem kayak. Trying to squeeze you and the dog into a one-person yak is a recipe for disaster. A sit-on-top kayak is the way to go in order to have the best experience possible.

Also, while inflatable kayaks are doable, there is somewhat of a risk of puncturing the kayak due to your furry friend’s nails. Make sure they’re trimmed before you go kayaking.

Things to Keep in Mind:

— Choose a kayak with a large cockpit designed for at least two passengers and a child or dog.

— Make sure the max weight capacity comfortably fits your weight, your dog’s weight, and all the gear you’ll be bringing with you

— Get a kayak that has a great drainage system to make sure your pup doesn’t get wet (if they aren’t a fan of the water)

Mistake 3: Riding on Rough Waters

If you’re not an experienced kayaker, we recommend choosing to ride in calm and quiet waters with easy to access launch sites.

You may even want to pick specific times and days where the waters are less crowded with other boats or dogs. Boats that drive by can create some pretty big waves, so avoid crowded times in the beginning.

Things to Keep in Mind:

— Anything beyond Class II rapids is usually considered rough waters and requires a good bit of experience. Stay away from these waters with dogs.

— Have a game plan if your dog jumps off the boat. Calmly command them to “get in the boat” and paddle your way towards them. Then hook your arms under their front legs, so you can scoop them back up onto the kayak.

Mistake 4: Not Using Any Mats or Floor Padding

Having your dog slip and slide is a sure-fire way to get them frightened or panicky. The most important thing to remember when having dogs onboard is to keep them comfortable and calm.

One great option is to find a traction mat and cut out the shape that fits your kayak seating spot. Make sure the traction mat has an adhesive material and a good grip that will work even when wet.

Things to Keep in Mind:

— Any type of beach towel, yoga mat, or foam mat should work. Just make sure there’s no slipping.

— Nowadays there are excellent water-resistant doggy pads available online

Mistake 5: Not Having a Doggy Life Jacket

Just like humans should wear vests on a kayak, so should doggies! Although a lot of dogs can swim, there are many breeds of dogs that can’t.

You never know when there could be a sudden movement that causes a dog to panic. You should always have a life jacket on your dog, even if your dog is a great swimmer.

They keep your dog afloat even in the deepest and roughest of waters. Also, they have a nice handle to easily pick up your dog in the water. And they are bright-colored, so you can easily spot your pup.

Things to Keep in Mind:

85% of all drowning during canoe and kayaking excursions occurred when riders did not wear a personal flotation device.

— Do not put your dog on a leash when kayaking. In the event of the boat being capsized, and the leash is attached to the boat, your dog can drown. Or, if attached to you, both of you could drown. Plus, leashes can easily get entangled with branches, rocks, etc. Since leashes don’t float, they’ll be working against your dog in the case they do go overboard.


If you haven’t tried kayaking with your dog yet, then you and your dog are missing out! However, make sure you’re prepared before you go.

When it comes to dogs, there are many breeds, sizes, and personalities, so make sure to brush up on your commands and go for a test ride to see how they react. Once you’ve gone through all the precautions, you’re good to go!

Now that you know what to avoid, you can head out on the water with your furry friend. There’s nothing like enjoying the breathtaking views and having your fur baby right beside you!

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