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I wonder if there are any dog crazy people like me out there who have ever tried to take their dogs kayaking or floating down the river. Has anyone seen anything created for dog-friendly kayak excursions?

I'm wondering if there is something, much like the trailers people use for carting their children on bicycles, that one could use during excursion kayaking...

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    I wouldn't do it by towing a secondary object. Either get a sit-on-top with a wide deck area behind the seat, or a standard kayak with an over-sized cockpit, then let Fido ride right next to you. Also, get Fido his own canine PFD. – cobaltduck Sep 7 '16 at 20:58
  • There are people out there being that crazy, I've seen it ;) – Wills Sep 8 '16 at 9:32
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    +1 for the visual of a dog happily floating down the river in a bicycle style kayak 'trailer'. – plast1k Sep 8 '16 at 12:38
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    Best place for your dog is in your lap, or in-between you legs, unless you have an expedition kayak with a spare cargo compartment you can stick him in. – ShemSeger Sep 8 '16 at 17:50
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We're planning to take our dog kayaking in the not so distant future. We both have two Sit on Top Kayaks which easily leave him room to sit between my feet. If you can fit him in your cockpit in a sit in kayak then it shouldn't be an issue either. From below you can see a section in the back where you can add bags etc (with a elastic string to keep it in place) or between the foot grooves.

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Some things to consider when kayaking with your dog:

  1. Are you on calm water or choppy? Dogs sometimes need a buoyancy aid (see my Q&A over at Pets, specifically about long haired dogs) but it can depend on the water you're on, and the abilities of your dog.
  2. How big is your dog? Some Kayaks come with a weight limit and you + your dog may make the kayak unstable because of the combined weight. Our dog is a Shetland sheepdog and only 6kg, so it won't make a huge difference for us, but a Labrador for example can be 50-60kg. Our kayaks have a 95~kg limit.
  3. Is your Kayak a SOT or SI - this would obviously make where your dog sits different, and you'd need to consider both your comfort.
  4. Linking to the above point, will you still be able to paddle safely? A big dog too close to you may get in the way of you being able to paddle properly.

It's certainly no issue to have your dog with you in a kayak, but if your dog is a big one, or if you have more than one travelling with you - you may have to consider different options to taking a small dog, like maybe using a canoe. I personally wouldn't consider towing your dog, unless you're on super calm waters like a canal.

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There are many variables that would influence how you transport your dog. The breed, size, temperament, and training will make certain choices better than others. I often take my dog, a black lab who weights about 70 lbs, with me in my kayak, my canoe, and small boat. She is enthusiastic, but also very well trained. This means I can ask her to sit up in the bow of the boat, the first seat in our two-seater kayak, or down on the floor of the canoe and she will stay there, mostly. She doesn't need a PFD because she swims much better in current without one than with one. On cold days, I sometimes give her a neoprene jacket that helps a little with buoyancy, but also keeps her warm. I sometimes take her just because the boat rides better with her on the bow, so I definitely encourage you to give it a try.

Because she is exciteable, I have to be ready for unexpected shifts. Usually this is no problem, but I never place anything on the deck that can slide off, and I always have the gear ready for a cold-water experience (I am most often out in the winter, as we are usually duck hunting together on a river). A more stable kayak with pontoons is my favorite, but the advantage of a canoe is that when she lays down, she can't see quite as much to get excited about and will ride a little better.

If you have a small dog, your lap may be better with a PFD, or if you have a large dog who is less likely to listen, you might want to skip it all together. With small dogs, get the PFD with the handle on the back so you can pluck them out. And remember, dogs can usually swim, don't wear clothes or shoes, and are generally bad-assed. A friend of mine drown while trying to rescue his two dogs who went overboard, leaving his young son adrift in the boat. The dogs swam to shore just fine, and other fishermen found his son. Stay in the boat and let the dog find her way to safety if there is an emergency.

If your larger dog goes in the water, one important trick to know is how to load the dog back into the boat. The technique is specific and non-intuitive. As your dog approaches the boat, you scoot to the other side to counterbalance. Now, as your dog's paws start scrabbling at the side of the boat, reach around behind her head and cup the back of her head. Pull her head towards you. This will allow her paws to get a purchase on the gunwale or side of the kayak and pull herself into the boat. You can't usually lift very well without tipping yourself, and the dog has plenty of strength to climb in if they can get a purchase, so concentrate on giving them traction rather than lifting. Once the dog's head pops up, reach with your other hand to grab her collar and pull/lift her towards you to take a little more weight off. I practiced this technique on warm days when I didn't have anything other than me and the dog in the boat, and now I do it all the time when she goes in the water for a retrieve. With a little practice, it becomes second nature to you and the dog.

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Get canoe. Even a two person kayak when you are paddling from just one it is not balanced. Get a river or boat tube the correct size. Get a lab they can float all day. Unless the water is cold I think most dogs would prefer a good PFD.

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