Love the great outdoors? You can take your pup along too! Check out these easy tips to make canoeing and kayaking with your dog more fun.

dog on a kayak

Is My Dog Ready To Go Kayaking or Canoeing?

Before you jump in the kayak or canoe with your excited pup, let’s check and see if they’re even ready for a water adventure. Although dogs are natural swimmers, not all dogs have spent much time around water. And kayaking or canoeing will definitely be a whole new experience. Think through some of the following before deciding to take your canine on the adventure with you.

✓  Will my dog listen to commands like sit and stay?

✓  Does my pup like being in or around the water, and getting wet?

✓  Is my dog a good swimmer, if they fall in?

✓  Will my pooch wear a dog life jacket?

✓  Will my dog be able to ignore temptations like hunting for ducks or grabbing the sticks floating by?

If yes, then you’re ready to move forward! If not, then maybe rethink this as a dog-friendly activity. For other dog-friendly activities and places to visit, check out the other Off Leash! blogs on

How Do I Get My Dog Used to Kayaking and Canoeing?

Canoes and kayaks are new to dogs, and could be very intimidating if you’re trying to force them in, while teetering back and forth on the water. Instead, try acclimating them to the boat while on dry land first.

  • Put the canoe or kayak on the ground in your yard at home, and sit in it. Show your dog that it’s good and safe. And try calling them over with treats.
  • If your dog does sit in the boat, or even sniff at it, give them plenty of praise and treats.
  • You could even try hiding treats in the canoe/kayak, so that your dog will get inside by sniffing them out.
  • Practice making your paddling motion while sitting in the canoe/kayak on the ground with your dog in it. They probably won’t like the paddle near their head at first, so it’s helpful to get them accustomed to it on land.
  • Practice putting their dog life jacket on and off. You could even leave it on them for a while, so they get used to it. And as always, don’t forget the rewards!
  • If you have a dog that likes the water—let them splash and swim around for a bit first. Once they are tired, they’ll be less likely to try and jump out of the boat.
  • Remember to stay calm, cool, and collected. Your dog will notice your emotions, and they will react accordingly.

It’s important for your dog to learn good, fun, and positive associations with the canoe or kayak. This will make it much easier when trying to get them in the boat on the water!

dogs on a kayak

What is the Best Kayak for Dogs?

A canoe is shaped in such a way that there is plenty of sitting room inside because it’s deep enough and wide enough. It’s actually pretty perfect for letting your little or big fur baby ride along with you. But for a kayak, there are some specifics you’ll want to think through before purchasing—if you’re hoping to have your pup join in.

  1. Pick a kayak that has a wide enough opening for your dog to get in. They can’t step in like a human, and will probably jump or climb in.
  2. Make sure there is plenty of “cockpit” space for your dog to sit comfortably in your lap or between your legs. The kayak will need a wide, flat bottom.
  3. If you and your dog are comfortable with it, you could even purchase a sit-on-top kayak. These are flatter because you literally sit on top of them. There would be plenty of room for your pup, and you don’t have to worry about the cockpit filling up with water.
  4. Try a tandem kayak. These will give you and your canine each your own seat. That way you won’t crowd each other, and you’ll have plenty of room to paddle.

Whichever style you pick, just think through the size and weight of your dog, and how that will affect your kayaking experience.

Important Safety Reminders!

We’ve mentioned a few along the way, but please remember these crucial safety tips for your precious pooch!

✓  Make your dog wear a dog life jacket! If there’s an accident and the boat flips over, this life jacket will save your dog’s life.

✓  Bring plenty of water for you and your pup, plus a water bowl, or a dog water bottle.

✓  NEVER tie your dog to the kayak. Although it seems like a good way to keep them from jumping out, it could also make them drown, if the boat flips over. They could get stuck underneath the boat, or the leash/rope could get tied around their necks. If you’re afraid of your dog running off before or after the boat ride, try out a GPS Smart Collar to keep track of them.

✓  If your dog is older or has health problems, this may not be a good activity for them. Vision and hearing problems will make it hard for them to listen to important commands. And arthritis can make it difficult for them to get in and out of the boat, and to balance in it.

✓  Help your dog with balance and traction by trimming their toenails ahead of time. This will also help your canoe or kayak to not get scratched—and not pop, if it’s inflatable.

✓  Canoe or kayak with a friend. Just in case something goes wrong—it’s better if you’re not alone.

kayaking with your dog

Canoeing & Kayaking with Your Dog

Canoeing and kayaking with your furry best friend should be a blast! And we want to help make it a great experience for both of you. If you take our advice and prep ahead of time, your water adventures with your dog will be much less stressful, and could be a ton of fun!