Kayaking with Canine Companions: The Best Kayaks for Dogs

Estimated read time 17 min read

Setting off on a calm waterway with the sun shining overhead and a faithful furry friend by your side is a dream many outdoor enthusiasts share. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or just starting out, when it comes to taking your dog along for the ride, you need the right gear. Specifically, the best kayaks for dogs are a must. In this article, we’ll delve deep into the world of kayaks designed with our four-legged friends in mind.

Key Considerations for Choosing the Best Kayaks for Dogs

When you’re on the lookout for the best kayaks for dogs, a few vital factors will ensure both you and your pet have a safe, comfortable journey:


Stability is paramount when selecting a kayak for dog-friendly adventures. Dogs can be unpredictable creatures, and various stimuli, such as the sight of a jumping fish or the desire to change their position, can lead to sudden movements within the kayak. To ensure a stable experience, it is imperative to look for kayaks that offer superior stability. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Wider Bases: Kayaks with wider bases tend to be more stable in the water. A broader foundation provides better resistance to tipping, making it easier to maintain balance when your dog shifts its weight or moves around;
  • Flat Bottoms: Kayaks with flat bottoms also contribute to stability. The flat design distributes weight evenly and minimizes the likelihood of capsizing, even if your dog decides to explore different spots within the kayak.


Providing your dog with ample space to sit comfortably is essential for an enjoyable kayaking experience. The available space not only affects your dog’s comfort but also your own. Here are key points to consider regarding space:

  • Sufficient Room: For owners of larger dog breeds, it’s crucial to ensure there is enough room in the kayak for your dog to sit or lie down comfortably. Crowded conditions can lead to discomfort and an unbalanced kayak;
  • Paddling Space: While prioritizing your dog’s comfort, don’t forget about your own. Make sure there’s enough room for you to paddle comfortably without feeling cramped or restricted by your pet’s presence.


The durability of the kayak is another critical factor to consider when kayaking with dogs. Dog claws can be tough on materials, and the wear and tear from their presence can significantly impact the lifespan of your kayak. To ensure longevity, look for kayaks constructed with sturdy, puncture-resistant materials. These materials can withstand the occasional scratch or claw without compromising the kayak’s structural integrity.

Ease of Entry

Facilitating easy entry and exit for your dog is essential for a stress-free kayaking experience. When assessing kayaks for their dog-friendliness, consider the following aspects:

  • Sit-on-Top Design: Kayaks with a sit-on-top design offer an advantage as they provide a more open and accessible space for your dog. This design allows your pet to hop on and off the kayak with ease, eliminating the need for complex maneuvers;
  • Large Cockpit: If you prefer a kayak with a cockpit, opt for models with a spacious opening. A large cockpit makes it easier for your dog to enter and exit the kayak comfortably. Additionally, it allows you to maintain a closer bond with your furry friend during the journey.

Top 6 Kayaks Designed for Dog-Friendly Adventures

Ocean Tandem Sit-On-Top Kayak

The Ocean Tandem Sit-On-Top Kayak is a popular choice among dog-loving paddlers for its spacious design and remarkable stability. This kayak is crafted with high-density polyethylene, ensuring durability against even the sharpest dog claws.

Spacious design allows for two paddlers and a dog.Heavier and may require a kayak cart for transportation.
Extremely stable due to its width.May be too spacious for smaller dogs.
Made from high-density polyethylene, ensuring durability against dog claws.

Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak

For those looking for portability and ease of storage, the Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak is an excellent choice. It’s designed with puncture-resistant material, making it dog-friendly and suitable for calm waters.

Inflatable design allows for easy transportation and storage when deflated.Not ideal for rough waters or longer trips.
Made with puncture-resistant material, ideal for dogs.Inflation requires additional time before setting off.
Suitable for calm waters and offers good stability.

Wilderness Systems Pungo Kayak

The Wilderness Systems Pungo Kayak is a premium choice for dog-friendly kayaking adventures. Its open cockpit design and durable construction make it a top contender for those who prioritize quality.

Features a large, open cockpit for easy dog entry.More expensive than some other options.
Constructed with durable materials resistant to dog claws.Designed for one paddler, which may limit space for larger dogs.
Offers storage compartments for doggy essentials.

Sun Dolphin Aruba Kayak

The Sun Dolphin Aruba Kayak is renowned for its lightweight design and efficient tracking. Suitable for lakes and rivers, it comes with a large seating area to accommodate a paddler and their furry friend comfortably.

Lightweight design facilitates easy transportation.Might not be as stable as wider kayaks.
Efficient tracking for smoother rides.Limited storage space for accessories and gear.
Large seating area for comfort.Not the best for very choppy waters.

Pelican Mustang 100X Kayak

For paddlers seeking a blend of stability and performance, the Pelican Mustang 100X Kayak is a go-to choice. Its multi-chine flat bottom hull design ensures superior stability, making it an excellent option for those kayaking with dogs.

Multi-chine flat bottom hull ensures remarkable stability.Might be a bit tight for larger dogs.
Storage hatch for essentials.A bit heavier than some other kayaks.
Adjustable footrests for enhanced comfort.Premium price point.

Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Kayak

A perfect blend of speed, stability, and maneuverability, the Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Kayak offers a well-balanced kayaking experience. With a spacious cockpit and integrated rudder system, it provides a premium experience for both the paddler and their canine companion.

Offers an integrated rudder system for better control.On the pricier side compared to other kayaks.
Spacious cockpit suitable for dogs.Might be overkill for short, casual trips.
Dual position Vibe Hero seat ensures comfort.Requires more storage space due to its size.

Understanding Your Dog’s Swimming Abilities

Before embarking on a kayaking adventure with your dog, it’s essential to assess their swimming abilities. Different breeds have varying levels of swimming proficiency. Understanding your dog’s swimming ability can help you make informed decisions regarding their safety and comfort during the trip.

  • Breed: Some dog breeds are natural swimmers, while others may struggle in the water. Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Portuguese Water Dogs are known for their strong swimming abilities, whereas breeds with short legs or dense bodies might find swimming more challenging;
  • Experience: Even within the same breed, individual dogs may have different levels of swimming experience. If your dog has never been in the water before, they might need some gentle introduction and swim lessons before hitting the kayak;
  • Health: Your dog’s overall health plays a significant role in their swimming abilities. Older dogs or those with certain medical conditions may not be as adept at swimming as younger, healthier dogs;
  • Comfort: Assess your dog’s comfort in water. Some dogs may enjoy swimming, while others might be anxious or fearful. It’s essential to ensure that your dog is relaxed and confident in the water before kayaking with them.

Implications for Kayaking

Understanding your dog’s swimming abilities has several implications for your kayaking trip:

  • Monitoring: Dogs with limited swimming abilities may need closer monitoring during the trip to ensure their safety. Keep a vigilant eye on them to prevent accidents;
  • Swim Lessons: If your dog is not a confident swimmer, consider providing swim lessons before your kayaking adventure. This will help them feel more comfortable in the water;
  • Life Vest: Regardless of your dog’s swimming prowess, it’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality dog life vest. The right size and fit are crucial to ensure your dog’s safety and buoyancy while on the kayak.

Doggy Gear for Kayaking

Besides the kayak itself, you’ll want to invest in specific gear for your furry friend:

Dog Life Jacket

A dog life jacket, also commonly referred to as a “doggy PFD” (Personal Flotation Device), is a cornerstone of canine kayaking gear. It serves as a crucial safety accessory for your furry companion, providing buoyancy and peace of mind. Here’s a more in-depth look at what you should consider:

  • Buoyancy Matters: The primary function of a dog life jacket is to provide buoyancy, ensuring that your dog remains afloat in the water. It should be designed to support your dog’s weight adequately, allowing them to stay on the surface without excessive effort;
  • Adjustable Straps: Opt for a life jacket with adjustable straps. A snug and secure fit is essential to prevent chafing and discomfort, as well as to ensure that the jacket stays in place during vigorous movements;
  • Convenient Handle: Many dog life jackets are equipped with a sturdy handle located on the top. This handle proves invaluable for lifting your dog in and out of the kayak, assisting them in the water, or providing an additional level of control.

Protective Paw Wear

Your dog’s paws are their primary mode of mobility and interaction with the world. When kayaking, these precious paws can be exposed to rough kayak surfaces, hot sand, or sharp objects lurking beneath the water’s surface. Here’s a closer look at protective paw wear:

  • Dog Booties or Socks: Opt for dog booties or socks that feature non-slip soles. These accessories not only provide a layer of protection but also ensure your dog maintains stable footing on potentially slippery surfaces;
  • Material and Durability: Choose protective paw wear constructed from durable materials capable of withstanding the rigors of outdoor activities. Ease of cleaning and maintenance should also be factored in.

Sun Protection

Sunburn is not exclusive to humans; dogs are also susceptible, particularly those with shorter hair or exposed skin. Here’s how you can protect your canine companion from the sun’s harmful UV rays:

  • Doggy Sun Hat: Consider investing in a doggy sun hat with a wide brim. This accessory provides much-needed shade for your dog’s face and head, safeguarding them from direct sunlight;
  • Dog-Safe Sunscreen: Just as you would apply sunscreen on yourself, use a dog-safe sunscreen on areas of your dog’s body prone to sunburn, such as the nose, ears, and belly. Ensure that the sunscreen is non-toxic and specifically formulated for dogs to prevent any adverse reactions.

Fit and Comfort

Before embarking on your kayaking adventure, it is of paramount importance to assess the fit and comfort of these accessories:

  • Ensure that the dog life jacket fits snugly but comfortably, allowing your dog to move naturally. Excessive tightness or looseness can result in discomfort or even pose risks;
  • Regularly check that the protective paw wear does not cause chafing or irritation. Your dog should be able to walk, run, and paddle with ease while wearing them;
  • Introduce your dog to the doggy sun hat or sunscreen gradually to gauge their acceptance and comfort level. This ensures they do not become stressed or agitated during your kayaking excursion.

Tips for a Successful Kayaking Adventure with Your Dog

While the right gear is crucial, there are additional considerations to ensure a successful kayaking experience with your dog:

  • Training: Prior to hitting the water, ensure that your dog is comfortable with the kayak. Familiarize them with it on dry land and practice getting in and out of the kayak in a safe and controlled environment;
  • Behavior: Be mindful of your dog’s behavior. Keep an eye out for signs of anxiety, discomfort, or seasickness. Your dog’s well-being should always be your top priority;
  • Hydration: Carry plenty of fresh water for both you and your dog. Paddling under the sun can be dehydrating, and dogs can get thirsty quickly;
  • Rest Breaks: Plan for regular rest breaks to allow your dog to stretch their legs, relieve themselves, and take a break from the confines of the kayak;
  • Leash and Safety: Consider using a leash or harness with a tether while on the kayak to ensure your dog remains secure. However, make sure it’s a quick-release option for emergencies;
  • Environmental Awareness: Be mindful of the environment. Dispose of waste properly, and respect wildlife and other kayakers. Leave no trace to preserve the beauty of nature for future generations.

Kayak Maintenance with Dogs

Taking dogs on your kayak often means extra wear and tear. Maintain your kayak by:

Regularly Checking for Scratches or Punctures

Dogs’ claws are one of the primary sources of damage to your kayak’s hull. Their sharp claws can easily scratch or puncture the kayak’s surface, compromising its integrity. To mitigate this, perform regular inspections:

Check for scratches and puncturesAfter each trip or once a weekExamine the kayak’s exterior carefully, paying special attention to areas where your dog typically sits or stands. Look for any signs of damage, such as scratches or punctures.
Repair minor scratches and puncturesAs neededUse a kayak repair kit to fix any minor damage promptly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for patching holes or scratches.
Consult a professional for major repairsAnnuallyIf you notice significant damage or multiple punctures, consult a kayak repair specialist to ensure proper and lasting repairs.

Cleaning the Kayak After Each Use

Dogs can leave behind hair, mud, and other residues, which can be detrimental to your kayak’s cleanliness and longevity. Here’s how to maintain a clean kayak:

Remove dog hair and debrisAfter each trip or once a weekUse a kayak-friendly brush or vacuum cleaner to remove dog hair, dirt, and debris from the kayak’s interior.
Rinse the kayakAfter each trip or once a weekHose down the kayak’s exterior and interior to remove any remaining residues.
Use mild soap for deep cleaningAs neededFor stubborn residues, mix mild soap with water and gently scrub the kayak’s surface. Rinse thoroughly afterward.
Dry the kayak thoroughlyAfter each cleaningAllow the kayak to air dry completely to prevent mold or mildew growth. Store it in a cool, dry place.

Applying Protective Sprays or Covers

To safeguard your kayak from potential damage caused by your dog’s claws and other external factors, consider using protective measures:

Apply a kayak wax or UV protectantAnnuallyThese products can help protect the kayak’s surface from UV rays and minimize potential scratches. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Use a kayak cockpit coverWhen not in use or during storageA cockpit cover prevents your dog from accessing the kayak when it’s not in use, reducing the risk of damage.
Consider a kayak deck pad or matAs neededThese provide extra cushioning and protection to specific areas where your dog sits or stands.

Safety Precautions

When kayaking with dogs, safety is paramount:

Stay Close to Shore

When kayaking with dogs, especially if it’s your first few trips, it’s essential to stay close to the shoreline for several reasons:

  • Quick Return: Staying near the shoreline allows for a quick return to land in case of an emergency. Dogs, like humans, can experience unexpected discomfort, anxiety, or motion sickness while on the water. Being close to the shore ensures that you can swiftly get your dog back to safety if needed;
  • Easier Entry and Exit: Dogs may not be as comfortable getting in and out of a kayak as you are. Staying close to the shore simplifies the process of helping your dog in and out of the kayak, reducing the risk of accidents or injuries;
  • Familiar Terrain: Dogs are more at ease in familiar environments. Staying near the shoreline keeps your dog in a setting they are comfortable with, reducing stress and anxiety.

Monitor Water Conditions

The water conditions play a crucial role in the safety of your kayaking trip with your dog. Here are some key considerations:

  • Avoid Strong Currents: Strong currents can pose a significant risk, especially if your dog is not a strong swimmer. Avoid kayaking in areas with swift-moving currents, as they can make it difficult to control your kayak and put your dog in danger;
  • Watch Out for Wind: Windy conditions can make kayaking more challenging, particularly if you have a small kayak. Dogs can be sensitive to wind, and it might affect their comfort and stability in the kayak. Choose days with calm weather for a smoother experience.

Stay Alert

Being vigilant and aware of your surroundings is essential when kayaking with dogs:

  • Hazard Identification: Always be on the lookout for potential hazards such as larger animals, floating debris, or other boats. Dogs might get excited or anxious when they encounter unexpected objects or animals, so it’s crucial to steer clear of potential trouble;
  • Dog’s Behavior: Pay close attention to your dog’s behavior throughout the trip. Signs of distress, fear, or discomfort should not be ignored. If your dog seems uneasy, consider ending the kayaking trip early to ensure their well-being;
  • Safety Gear: Equip yourself and your dog with appropriate safety gear. Life jackets for both you and your dog are essential, even if your dog is a good swimmer. In case of an emergency, these can be lifesaving.

Training Tips for First-time Dog Kayakers

If your dog has never been on a kayak, some initial training will ensure a smoother experience:

Introducing Your Dog to the Kayak

  • Begin the training process on dry land to help your dog become familiar with the kayak without the added challenge of water;
  • Use positive reinforcement: Offer treats, praise, and affection when your dog shows curiosity or approaches the kayak voluntarily;
  • Place the kayak on a stable surface and allow your dog to investigate it at their own pace. Let them sniff, explore, and get comfortable around it;
  • Gradually increase exposure time to the kayak over several sessions, making sure your dog associates it with positive experiences.

Practice Essential Commands

Training your dog in essential commands is vital for their safety and your peace of mind while kayaking. The following commands are particularly valuable:

  • “Sit”: Teach your dog to sit on command to ensure they stay still while you prepare the kayak or navigate tricky situations;
  • “Stay”: This command is crucial for keeping your dog in place, especially when you need them to remain on the kayak and not jump into the water;
  • “Lay Down”: Teaching your dog to lie down can help them stay calm and balanced on the kayak.

Starting with Short Trips

  • It’s essential to ease your dog into kayaking gradually. Begin with short trips to allow your dog to acclimate to the new experience;
  • Start in calm and familiar waters: Choose a quiet lake or river with gentle currents for your first few kayaking outings with your dog;
  • Keep the initial trips brief, aiming for 15-30 minutes. Gradually extend the duration as your dog becomes more comfortable;
  • Pay attention to your dog’s body language. If they seem anxious or uncomfortable, return to shore and try again another day.

Destinations for Dog Kayaking

Once you and your canine are seasoned kayakers, you might want to explore new destinations:

  • Lakes and Ponds: Calm, serene, and often free of strong currents;
  • Rivers: Ensure they’re slow-moving and lack dangerous rapids;
  • Coastal Areas: Ideal for experienced dog kayakers. Watch for tides and marine traffic.


Kayaking can be a fantastic way to bond with your furry friend, but ensuring their comfort and safety is paramount. By considering stability, space, durability, and ease of entry, and by choosing from the best kayaks for dogs, you’re set for many memorable adventures on the water. Whether you opt for an inflatable model or a spacious tandem design, there’s a perfect kayak out there for every dog-loving paddler.


Is it safe to take my dog kayaking?

With proper precautions and by choosing the best kayaks for dogs, it can be a safe and enjoyable experience. Always ensure your dog is wearing a life jacket and is familiar with the kayak before heading out.

Do I need to train my dog before going kayaking?

While it’s not mandatory, it’s beneficial to familiarize your dog with the kayak on dry land. Practice having them enter and exit the kayak, and reward them for calm behavior.

Can any dog go kayaking?

While many dogs enjoy the adventure, it’s essential to consider your dog’s temperament, size, and health. Always consult with your vet before introducing any new activity.

What should I pack for my dog when kayaking?

Essentials include a dog-specific life jacket, fresh water, a bowl, snacks, a leash, and a first-aid kit. Remember, preparation is crucial when taking a trip with your canine companion.

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours