I went kayaking with Wynston for my first time on August 9, 2018. I literally had no idea what I was doing. I did zero research before Wynston and I sat in a kayak and were shoved into the lake by a dock attendant. I learned as I went and was prepared with what I thought I would need. Turns out, I didn’t do too badly! It was quite an incredible first experience and it prepared me even more for the next outing! Kayaking with a dog is different than going out alone. If you’re new to kayaking with your dog, take my word for it – it’s more fun and relaxing than stressful. To get you started here are some beginner tips for kayaking with dogs.
Beginner Tips for Kayaking With Dogs
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Guidance
The first time I went kayaking, I had no idea what to do. Some rental places will offer you a free 5 minute lesson. If they don’t, just ask! Everyone started somewhere 🙂 Better to ask then to get on the water and panic. You can also join kayaking groups on Facebook, which have been very helpful for me!
Bring a Beach Towel…or Two.
The best thing I did to prepare for our time in the kayak was bring a beach towel for Wynston. Before we got in the kayak, I laid the towel down. This way Wynston had something soft and comfortable to lay on, rather than the plastic. The towel can also be used for drying or cleaning off if you need it.
For me, though, I need two or three beach towels. Why? Well the first time I went out kayaking with Wynston my butt got sore! It’s not exactly cozy sitting your bum on a hard surface for a couple of hours! A beach towel to fold up as padding is a must for me. I also need padding for my back, so an extra beach towel is good for that. If you have other means of padding, bring it. You will most likely need it.
Use a Fanny Pack
Don’t worry guys – fanny packs are trendy again. But you don’t need to get a sparkly, 80s type fanny pack. Amazon offers a ton of outdoor fanny pack options. The one I have holds two water bottles, and it’s zipper compartments are large enough to fit my phone, poop bags, treats, wallet and more! Not only is a fanny pack a good options for freeing up your hands, but it’s small and you can store it at your feet or in the side of your kayak. Your fanny pack doesn’t need to be anything fancy – just enough to hold your personal items and phone. A bonus if it’s water resistant! Here are two fanny packs that I like on Amazon (affiliate links):
Everest Fanny Pack With Two Water Bottle Holders – only $17!
Sierra Highlands Fanny Pack – only $17!
Stay Protected from the Sun
It’s easy to get sunburned when you’re out in the sun for an extended period of time, especially on the water. Make sure you’re protected with sunscreen. I’d also suggest putting sunscreen on your dog, especially if they are white, elderly or have a skin condition. I’m not a veterinarian, but I would personally use a doggy or baby sunscreen.
Wynston wears a Gold Paw Series Sun Shield Dog Tee (size 8) when we’re on the water. The shirt simply protects him from the sun. I also like to wet down the shirt then put it on Wynston so he stays cool. And me? I always wear sunscreen and a hat to protect my face.
Bring Water and Snacks
In the kayak you should have plenty of space for some snacks and water. Bring a collapsible bowl so your dog can stay hydrated and drink plenty of fresh water. Bring high value treats for your dog like meats, cheese, jerky, apples or carrots. These treats are great for positive reinforcement. Fruits such as watermelon are good choices because they also help your dog hydrated.
Bring a Life Vest for Your Dog
Although Wynston doesn’t typically wear his life jacket in the kayak, I always have one with me. If your dog enjoys swimming or you’re worried about them going overboard or getting startled, I would absolutely recommend having a life jacket for your dog. Outward Hound and Ruffwear both make high quality life vests for dogs.
Consider a Dog Cooling Vest
While I use a wet t-shirt to keep Wynston cool on the kayak, you can also purchase a cooling vest for your pup. Of course you’ll only need this item if it’s hot when you kayak, or if your dog gets overheated easily. Kurgo makes a wonderful cooling vest, which you can check out here. Is your dog wearing a life vest? Pick up a cooling pad like this one from Coleman instead!
Know Your Kayaks
There are several different kayaks to choose from. The most common recreational kayaks are “sit on top” kayaks, also known as ocean kayaks. Ocean kayaks offer an open space for a lot of items and large dogs. They are stable and easy for the beginner to paddle. Don’t be fooled by the name, though. Ocean kayaks can be used on lakes, rivers, canals or the sea.
Touring (sit in) kayaks are designed to be stable and comfortable. They feel more protected because it’s more enclosed. Touring kayaks are perfect for recreational use on calm bodies of water, such as your local lake. A sit in kayak is a great choice for someone learning to kayak, and we prefer the brand Sundolphin.
Inflatable kayaks are a great option for beginners, or people who are planning to paddle on calmer waters. They can actually be more durable and sturdy than hard shell kayaks. Since inflatable kayaks inflate and deflate, they are super easy to travel with, requiring no roof rack or trailer. After lots of research and suggestions from experienced kayakers, we purchased the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak from Amazon.
Wynston and I have an absolute blast kayaking, and we’re still learning. I’d like to go check out some different lakes and bodies of water in the next few months with our new kayak! Be looking out for our review on the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak. We’ll definitely want to share our thoughts with you all.
Do you go kayaking with your dog? What tips do you have for beginners?
(Affiliate links are used in this post.)