Paddling with Dogs? Safety Tips?


I am planning to go for kayaking and paddling trip this summer. I have good experience of paddling but it is the first time when I am thinking to keep my dog with me. I am thinking to get a sitting paddleboard in this regard and probably, I will prefer a paddleboard which can easily carry the weight of both of us. I have purchased safety equipment for my dog in this regard and also thinking to use sunscreen before my boarding.

Moreover, I am also considering to carry one good and hopefully pet ramps from here, I will use it for easy walking at the entrance of lake paths etc. Do you think should I carry it with me? Or these are only useful for pools? Secondly, what more safety equipment should I carry with me. I have included a safety kit in the list and yes, also doing training with my dog.

Please share your experiences and more suggestions with me. I am waiting for your responses.

I’m somewhat suspicious about your post given that ridiculous link about pet ramps. Amazon Affiliate links are usually the work of spammers.

Dogs have four legs and unless they’re obese, they have no problems walking.

As to your question about safety equipment, perhaps this legitimate site (which is not affiliated with Amazon) will help:


Just found this article on the web. I am not only looking for my personal safety but it is about the safety of my dog.

I’m with Rookie. I have no idea why you need a ramp unless the dog is too old and infirm to take paddling anyway. A doggie PFD is the usual first safety item.


Someone in a group that I paddle with made a deck pad for their dog. It consists of a grippy foam material, surrounded on three sides by pieces of pool noodle. This gives the dog a comfortable place to lie or stand, and the pool noodles add an extra barrier to help the dog hang on. In the attached photo, a spray skirt and PFD are lying on top of the pad (sorry, best photo I have), but you get the idea.


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Sounds very good for dog security. I am also checking any tutorial to save expenses. However, if it is available in market or at any site with reasonable price tag then I can buy. If quality is also good. Thanks for sharing. Yes, I can understand its benefit from image.

That deck-pad for the dog is all home made. I’ve never seen anything similar for sale already made. But you just need a pad, like a foam pad or maybe a plastic mat for the front door of a house, and the pool noodles can be bought at a dollar store or Walmart. The pieces are just fastened to the existing mounting points on the deck of the kayak using short pieces of light rope.

I go paddling with my dog all the time and have three safety rules:

  1. PFD ALWAYS!!! At the least, when he falls overboard, I can grab him by the PFD handle.
  2. Leash the dog to the boat. In water where he wants to swim to shore or another boat after being tossed overboard, I can reel him in with the leash and then use his PFD handle to get him back into the boat. Especially if we are in rough water and I must paddle first.
  3. Doggie decks! I use an old camping pad cut to shape and stuffed under my deck-lines. It gives my dog a stable place to stand.

Aside from those, paddling with your dog is a wonderful experience.

Well, if that photo she included in her original post is actually a photo of her paddling with her dog and not lifted off the Internet, she knows what safety equipment is needed for the dog as it’s wearing it. There’s even a dog pad on the foredeck.

I agree with Rik’s PFD and Doggie Deck rule (and that paddling with your dog is a wonderful experience), but I’d like to add one cautionary note to his second rule. If you’re paddling a lake or very slow moving water, that might be okay, but not for moving water of any decent current. The OP doesn’t mention where they will be paddling, so just in case they decide to paddle some faster moving water…

You should NEVER leash a dog to the boat in moving water. If they go over and you are in moving water, you will be dragging them along, which isn’t a good thing. A basic, basic rule of swiftwater safety is to never have a rope fixed to a swimmer (that can’t be released by the swimmer, ie. rescue vests), and a dog is no different. I’ve made dozens of extended Class III and IV paddles with a dog, and have taught others to paddle whitewater with a dog. Leashes are a strict no-no in those situations.

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I fully agree that secure footing for the dog is important and adds safety.

But I also agree that leashing a dog to a boat is a bad generic safety recommendation. It’s definitely dangerous in moving water. Even in quiet water the dog could capsize the boat if it jumped in. If the boat capsizes for any reason the dog is in serious trouble. I had two recent experiences where the dog and I might have ended up swimming in a local river and had the dog been leashed to the boat it could easily have made a bad situation much much worse.

not all dogs are inherently wanting to be in a canoe with you. Try on a local lake. I had a Golden Retreiver that always stood when the waves started happening. No amount of coercing and hours of training to lie down would help. She was fine when the water dead calm… Waves up…nope. And she was inordinately interested in moose. And quite happy to jump out and swim… We finally decided she was happier and safer with relatives.

Our current dog is not fond of water. He gets in the boat and lies down and stays put. He has a CFD of course and is comfortable in it. But we still have a Lab mix that is fearful of water. He also is more of a wildlife watcher than chaser.

Leashing a dog is asking for entanglement IMO

Dogs don’t fit in kayaks which is one of the reasons I like canoes.
He has a PFD and looks comfortable on the water. Is he a good swimmer?
He can’t possibly ride like that on a longer trip when you may have some windy and rough weather.
Forget ramps.
I always bring my dogs on river trips in either canoes or rafts.

Just don’t paddle an elite surfski with a dog or you’ll both be swimming. :grin:

Lash the dog to the boat? Seriously? What happens when wind and waves start or you hit a big rapid and the boat tips over? Your dog will be trapped.

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