Kayaking for the DOGS - recommendations?

I have a 90 pound golden retriever who doesn’t fit in my kayak. So I started looking around at sit-on-tops and “yak boards” that would allow me to take short trips in relatively sheltered ocean waters such as the intra-coastal waterways and back bays of the outer banks (waves usually not exceeding 3 feet from either the surf or boat wakes). Also, my big furry guy loves the water and probably won’t sit perfectly still.

Any recommendations for a good stable boat for the two of us? Many thanks for your help and advice!

-Nicole and the Boondoggle

A canoe
A much better boat for a person with a dog. If it has to be a kayak, maybe a big ol’ SOT.

Maybe a Native Watercraft Ultimate 14.5
It is kind of a cross between a canoe and a kayak. The Ultimate 14.5 can be set up as a solo or as a tandem. You might ask if they could set it up with the option to use the center seat when you are alone and then use the rear seat when you have the dog up front to balance the loading in the boat.

That large of a dog is going to be difficult even on a SOT.


I would seriously consider a Placid Boatworks Spitfire or Rapidfire. They are open like a canoe so you have room for the beast, but the hull is more like a kayak. You sit on the bottom and paddle with a double bladed paddle. http://www.placidboats.com/

Ocea Kayak SideKick?
It’s made to be a single + half for paddling by with a small child or dog.

Native Ultimate 14.5 solo or tandem
I rent this boat when I want to take George (70 pound pit bull) on the water with me. The solo provides plenty of room for both, with seat adjustments for balancing out the weight with him in front. MAKE SURE YOU BRING A BATH MAT or something for him to stand on. Very slippery without, and the dog will be sliding around, making your paddle a chore. Good luck and have fun.

Paddling for the dogs
Thanks, everybody for your thoughts…

I’m going home to NC next weekend and will rent a couple of boats to see how he does. There is a coastal dealer that has the Sidekick which is designed for a pet aboard. If it works out, it might be a winner if only because it’s so cheap so I won’t cry if he claws it up when he gets all excited and launches himself after the albacore and the dolphin!

We used to go out in a canoe, but flipping it was just a matter of time. Either as he flew off it or when he tried to reboard. Thanks again!

Rob Roy

– Last Updated: May-21-09 9:20 AM EST –

I had the same problem with my labrador, Miguel. So I purchased a Rob Roy, basically a cross between a canoe and a kayak. It was perfect. I could keep up with the easy paddling kayakers and Miguel could ride in front or behind me.

It also helped me to watch some episodes of "The Dog Whisperer" on TV. He is the genuine article. He showed me how to not humanize my dog. That is, learn what a dog's psychology and needs are, and how to be a good pack leader for them. As a result, I learned that a happy dog does NOT get excited,frustrated, dominant, nor feel in charge and jump up or bolt out of the boat! By gaining his trust, respect, and exercising him, bonding with him, being consistently in charge of him with rules limits and routines, he respected me and NEVER moved around in the boat nor decided it was his boat and his right to capsize me!

And go for the kayak. He won't stalk lilly pads if you make him feel he is MIGRATING with you, instead of TRACKING. My lab was confused at first too and stalked things. The dog needs to be working, to feel important. If he learns he is migrating with you to a new adventure, like dogs in packs do as they travel together, he will not jump on lilly pads or capsize you.

Once you understand him and provide him with feeling he is working and thus fulfill he dog nature, you will gain his trust and he will respect you and return this by you being the pack leader and and a good follower as long as you are clear and consistent.

Have fun!

Dog Paddling
I would stay away from a kayak.

I had a Golden Retreiver who loved my canoe. The canoe worked nicely. The dog stalked lily pads. He would sit quietly in the bow of the canoe and wait till it appeared that a lily pad would come within range, then lunge and grab it. The operative word here is “lunge”. We both enjoyed the game, and as an experienced paddler, I could compensate for his sudden moves.

i’ve been thinking about putting an outrigger and a platform on my kayak for my dog. i think as long as the dog is trained this is a nice alternative to getting another boat.

something like this is what i had in mind


Twin Otter?
How about an open kayak like the Old Town twin Otter?


I’ve never had my dog in any kayak so I’m just as interested in the responses you get. I was considering a canoe but would prefer to stay with a kayak.

yes and practical advice
yes that is a nice craft.

my experience is that a kayak actually works best, or more simply, a fulfilled and relaxed dog will still need to learn to sit in the MIDDLE of a wider boat.

So, a narrow boat works great, as his or her weight is centered. If you have a wider boat simply place pads or gear in such a way as the dog is centered.

It is just like shifting cargo and gear, the dogs weight actually stabilizes your craft if not shifting!!!

getting you and the dog back in
Additional thought. Whatever you choose give some thought and practice how you will self rescue and how you will get your dog back in with a method that will work when you are “bone tired” in nasty conditions and when the same conditions that capsized you are present once back in the boat ready to do it to you again.

Both your safety and your dog’s safety are at stake here as you may exhaust yourself rescuing both of you repeatedly.

Doggie Paddle
So I saw a Sidekick, and believe it will be the perfect platform for our forays into the back bays and estuary at home. Also, as kindly pointed out, both me and the furry guy would be able to reboard the kayak if capsized or knocked off - with the modification of padded non-slip material over the bow area for him to grip. He is a strong swimmer and he is able to get up onto the dock, so the kayaks won’t be too tough for him. He used to be able to get back into the canoe! Crazy animal. (I prefer to “humanize” my boy, and he prefers to “dogatize” me. It’s a healthy exchange.)

Of course, nothing is ever easy - apparently the kayak is no longer sold. Ocean Kayaks is pushing the “Peekaboo” which has a more centralized seat (which means less room up front for kids/dogs and removed the comfort seat for the sidekick passenger, leaving only a molded plastic jump seat, for those of you who are interested on behalf of children instead of dogs). In Virginia and North Carolina, the water is so murky the window is pretty useless, but could potentially be a weak point for future failure. The cost is also substantially increased for no real gain. I have never owned an Ocean Kayak before, but am disappointed in their decision to discontinue the Sidekick.

The search is on… if anyone has any idea where I could find a Sidekick, either new or used, please let me know. I travel the mid-Atlantic coast fairly regularly for business and could possibly divert course to pick up a kayak en route.

Stranger things have happened.

Kayak vs. Canoe
Aw, he’s a lap dog…