Dogs and kayaking!

I am looking to start kayaking and eventually want to take my dogs. I have 3 dogs ranging from 30-60 ish pounds. Any recommendations for either a kayak or canoe?

Great decision! Paddling’s a wonderfully awesome experience. You said you want to “start,” so I’m guessing you have little (or no) experience paddling a kayak or canoe. If that’s the case, I think your best bet is to take a lesson. Hopefully there’s an outfitter in your area who can help not only to get you started safely, but to suggest the best type of boat for where you want to paddle.

Yep, you nailed it im a total rookie. I’ve left a few messages to my local outfitters. Just putting a few more lines out there for other options,

Then you’re way ahead of the game since you’ve put the horse in front of the cart. Good for you!
I did the opposite :expressionless: But was steered in the right direction here.

Look for a used Klepper Aerius double. They fold up, very durable, stable and roomy for you and the dogs. The downside is they are heavy and slow.

Remember that dogs like security.
And a cold, wet, slippery deck or bottom makes them nervous and they try to move around to find a better place and that rolls your boat.
I slide a cut piece of blue-foam camping pad under my deck bungie so my Min-Pin can stand on deck safely.
In my canoe, I lay thick foam pads to keep his feet dry and secure and that means he sits in one place to enjoy the paddle.

If you are taking three dogs, I think you can rule out a kayak. Most solo canoes might not feel stable enough for a novice with dogs in the boat. I suggest you go with a tandem canoe that paddles nicely solo. Something like a Nova Craft Bob Special or PAL, Wenonah Solo Plus, Bell Northstar, Mad River Malecite, etc.

Learn to kayak then branch out with the dog idea. Get used to the medium before you take on the unpredictability of three dogs moving when you least expect it.

If something happens like a capsize how do you tend to three dogs at once? Just starting I think you need to get your skills developed before bring only one dog.

I’ll agree that safety is a concern here. There are dog PFD’s and I recommend investing in some. There may be some double kayaks with open cockpits that will work with 3 dogs, but I’m hard pressed to come up with one by name. A canoe does seem a more likely choice ( 3 dogsX60+weight of paddler) since weight will probably be an issue and canoes tend to be able to carry more.

Get some paddling training and experience first and then choose a boat for your purposes. Almost everyone buys their first boat and then thinks they wanted different performance characteristics a few months down the road. A bit of experience goes a long way to making a better first choice.

Dogs, like children, have varying tolerances for long periods on a boat. Some will not take very happily to the water and this could pose an issue. General rule is that they will want to go with you no matter what you are doing, but think about how much stress you are putting on the animal(s). You don’t want to create undue anxiety and a nervous shaking dog may or may not overcome same.

Odds are, they will be fine, but it is prudent to pay attention to their behavior and asses their comfort as you paddle.


I’ve seen many people paddling with small dogs, but few with large ones. I have taken my standard poodle a few times but she has a penchant for sudden moves that has put her in the water. She has a high COG for a dog.

Lewis and Clark took a newfoundland (near 300 lb. dog) on their trip, so an animal with the right temperament can be fine in a canoe. I can’t imagine the kayak that would carry such a beast :).

Newfies are fairly calm animals and love the water, and a good pick (other than size) for this type of activity. Other dogs, not so much.

My personal favorite sight was the paddler with an adult coyote on the bow of his kayak. When he landed, dogs up and down the beach were instantly aware of the animal as it leaped to shore. Remarkable behavior from animals as far as 100 yards away. No barking, just a wary posture, fixed stare, and a whole lot of turned heads.


We have a Westie (West Highland White Terrier) and I took him out on a SOT (Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 XL) which is a pretty stable kayak in the solo configuation. This particular terrier was not thrilled to be near the water so being ON the water didn’t make him happy. He paced a lot and his 27lb weight rocked the boat when he moved quickly.

My dog Maggie weights in at 45 pounds. She doesn’t really care for the water, but loves to ride along in a canoe. The photo is her with me in my 15.5 foot solo. If you plan to take your dogs I would advise a tandem canoe and face the stern (back of canoe from the bow seat (front seat), or maybe add a seat in the center for you to sit in. The problem with a middle seat is you now have a longer reach out over the gunnel (top edge of the sides). Also if all dogs move to one side suddenly you may be swimming with the dogs. One at a time and training them to be still might be the best way to start. If You can keep the dogs in the ends it is harder for them to tip the boat.

Two tips. A big dog sitting off center can bother your back counterbalancing while paddling. Little non shedding dogs(with hair not fur) get cold quick when wet. I think most dogs are fine with it, if their owners are comfortable, they are going to key off of you, don’t take them out until you are comfortable(which won’t take long if you aren’t pushing weather and water.)

@TreeA10 said:
We have a Westie (West Highland White Terrier) and I took him out on a SOT (Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 XL) which is a pretty stable kayak in the solo configuation. This particular terrier was not thrilled to be near the water so being ON the water didn’t make him happy. He paced a lot and his 27lb weight rocked the boat when he moved quickly.

Having owned a few Westies in my time I can’t say I’m surprised. I’ve never really seen one take to water well - although my last very alpha male would swim if there was a duck or goose to be chased! - and sitting still just isn’t their forte.

They’re great little dogs though!

I should add you can use and paddle a tandem with 2 people like they are designed to be used. That may help considerably. It is a pleasure to have our best friends along enjoying the outdoors with us, but at times may be a bit problematic. It will really depend on the temperament and training of your canine pals. You have picked a wonderful way to enjoy their company. As you gain experience and improve your on water skill set it will get easier to control the boat and the dogs.

The dog breed & temperment will also come into play. I have never paddled with a dog, but have rafted with some. My mini Aussie is not a fan of rafting with me. He’s ok with water, and loves to camp, but he paces and whines on my raft. Drives me nuts. I think it’s a herding dog thing. He doesn’t seem to like that his “flock” is separated from him in other boats.

On the other hand, my rafting buddy’s chocolate Lab was our rafting partner for 10 years. She’d go nuts when he started getting the rafting gear ready. She knew it was river time. She ran class 2-4 rapids all over the western US with us until lymphoma took her last year. I joked with him that the reason he got invited on River trips was because everyone loved his dog. Now he’s raising a new Lab pup to be a river dog.

My big problem on a long trip is packing.
I can balance the boat easily but my dog likes to sit on my deck-bag which adds weight to the bow. Then he will run to the bow and stand there keeping watch which adds almost 20# to the bow so I have to plan to pack my kayak bow-light! and be ready for the shift in weight and balance.