4 min read

5 Easy Training Tricks for Kayaking with Your Dog


Written by Adam Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 11/12/2021, edited: 11/12/2021


Fancy testing your dog’s sea legs? Water sports enthusiasts will no doubt be wondering how to “em-bark” on a kayaking adventure with their pup in tow. Kayaking is a "pawsome" way of getting back in touch with nature, and it's excellent exercise to boot! 

Leaving your pup behind on dry land while you're off kayaking can be awkward, and there's nothing better than discovering the great outdoors with your barking buddy by your side. With a little training and lots of patience, you can get Poppy to sit pretty at the front of your kayak. Here are 5 training tricks and tips for kayaking safely with your dog.

Ensure your pup can swim

wet black dog playing with a stick in the water

It's a common myth that all dogs are born knowing how to swim. Once in the water, most pups will attempt a doggy paddle. But not all dogs are natural swimmers — some require extra training. Some breeds, like Irish Water Spaniels and Labradors, are bred for jobs related to swimming, while other breeds, like Basset Hounds and French Bulldogs, don't fare well in the water due their body shape. 

When taking your dog out on the water, safety is key. Therefore, it's essential to ensure your dog is a strong swimmer in case of an emergency. Training your dog to swim will help you and Sparky have a safe day on the water.

Train your dog to wear a life jacket

As well as teaching your dog to swim, it's important to train them to wear a doggy life jacket. A personal flotation device (PFD) is essential in case you encounter strong currents or rough waters. For health and safety, your water-bound woofer should be a strong swimmer and wear a life jacket

Depending on your dog's temperament and experience with wearing clothes, they may be more than happy to don a life jacket. However, some puppers won't even tolerate a simple bandana. If your pooch falls into the latter category, you'll need to get your dog used to wearing a life vest.

Try it on your dog in a comfortable, familiar setting, like your living room or back yard. Let them wear it for a few minutes at a time. Have some treats handy to reward good behavior. Keep training sessions short, and repeat frequently until your pup gets the hang of it.

Once they're used to wearing the life jacket on dry land, you can work on training them to swim while wearing it. A simple game of fetch in a shallow pond or pool, combined with lots of treats to create a positive association, will go a long way toward building up your pup's confidence in a life jacket.

two dogs sitting in a kayak (training tips for kayaking with dogs)

Train your dog to ignore distractions

Little fishies, ducks, and even gators can distract dogs while kayaking, so training your dog to ignore distractions is key. The last thing you want during a relaxing day on the water is Charlie suddenly jumping out of your kayak to pursue a pigeon. If you haven't trained your dog to ignore distractions, don't take them out in a kayak.

Train your dog to come when called

It's not always easy to train a dog to ignore every distraction, and some doggos find it impossible to resist the thrill of the chase every now and then. Train your dog to come when called in case your doggo manages to jump out of your kayak and into the water. 

As long as your pupper knows to come when called, they won't get far across a lake or river before they turn around and come back. "Come when called" and "heel" without a leash are also useful commands for training your dog to get used to a kayak.

Starting your pup's kayak training

Once you've mastered some simple training techniques to help with kayaking, it's time to get your barking buddy on board. Training your dog to get into a kayak on the water is tricky, so start off on dry land. 

With treats as an incentive, your pup should have no qualms getting in a kayak. Factor in the size of your kayak, as it'll need to be spacious enough for Scoob. Put down some non-slip padding so your dog can move around the kayak with ease.

Once your pup has mastered staying in the kayak, you'll need to get them used to the motion of the ocean. The rocking of a boat can be unsettling for dogs. So, simulate paddling and waves while on land and reward your dog for staying calm. 

Before you know it, you and Luna will be well-prepared to take to the water. Set off from a shallow spot on your chosen waterway, and get ready for the “ultimutt” day out with your canine compadre!

Before your next boating trip, get pet health insurance. Waterborne illnesses in dogs can be expensive to treat. Secure pet health insurance today to avoid high veterinary care costs. Wag!'s pet insurance tool lets pet parents from compare insurance plans from leading companies like Figo and Spot. Find the "pawfect" plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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