Without a doubt, kayaking with dogs has been a huge part of Ruffwear’s history. After 16 years, a few of us here still love to paddle out onto the Deschutes River, canines in tow. For even the novice Kayaker, what better way to spend time with your water dog than through a new found passion for the paddle?

If you’re considering making your dog first mate on your next river run or ocean paddle, here are some basic tips to get you started as you introduce your paddle to your puddle lover, one step at a time.

What will I need?

–       Your four-legged friend

–       Kayak – sea, ocean, or river kayaks will do!

–       PDF for both human and canine alike.

How do I get started?

Being that there are so many different types of kayaking, getting started with grace takes a little finesse. Whether your pup is hopping on board, swimming along side, or running the bank, here are some tips that will help you get started:

At first glance, not all dogs will fit IN your Kayak with you.

–       Determine what type of Kayak you’ll be using. Typically, this is based off of the body of water you’re tackling, as well as your experience level.  A recreational Kayak is likely the simplest way to get started as a beginner, while whitewater kayaking is great for the seasoned paddler.

–        Get into the groove! In recreational Kayaks, your pup can comfortably sit in the ‘Cockpit’ for the perfect view. For those smaller playboats or whitewater kayaks, your dog may end up riding along on the spray skirt near the front, or even in back.

–       Prepare to get wet and have fun. From push off in calm water, to slowly becoming a pro, you and your dog will learn to work with your new flow.

What type of experiences or stories have you gained from Kayaking with your dog?

Till next time!
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4 thoughts

  1. I recently adopted a puppy in the far north and have already been out on multi-day weekend trips with an upcoming expedition up the James Bay coastline with her. She rides in either the forward or aft hatch with the cover removed, depending on the conditions (the arctic ocean can get rough and cold quickly). I have been tethering her to the side line of the boat should an accident occur. A friend of mine had their dog out on the weekend as well (never had been kayaking before and is an adult lab) and other than her jumping out onto an iceberg requiring a speedy rescue, all went great! I plan on designing and building my own kevlar/carbon tandem kayak designed specifically for my pup when she’s older and bigger. That will actually make the boat lighter than my single kayak and therefore possible to include her on expeditions without compromising the overall weight of the boat!

  2. We introduced our 35lb hound mix to kayaking last summer on a pond in Maine, with great success! She is an urban dog by residence, but much prefers our hiking trips to the woods, so this was the next logical step. We started with a borrowed Loon , and she fit well in the front of the kayak, and loved every minute of it! Our only issue was making sure we didn’t raft too closely together, or she’d try to yak-hop (not advisable with a clumsy hound). She handled jumping out to swim just fine, though, and helping her back aboard was easy with the handle on her float coat! She was even able to hunker down in the hull and nap some on a long paddle. I wouldn’t kayak without her, and highly recommend it to friends with dogs!

  3. I did try kayaking on Lake Tahoe with my two Labs. They were too big to be on the kayak with me. I bought them Ruff Wear float coats thinking that, as already strong swimmers, they would be able to last forever. Turns out I was right; they could swim forever with their float coats. However, they were pretty slow compared to the sea kayak. I had always thought of trying to go to smaller mountain lakes and just kayak around by the edges so they could swim or run along the shore, but never did it before I left Tahoe. As I prepare to move to DC I’m considering paddle boarding instead as I seem to go slower.

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