Taking Your Dog Canoe or Kayak Camping ( Safety, Packing and VS )


Going camping is a fun treat for all, including man’s best friend! When you go on an adventure, your dog wants to go, too. Normally, the basics of camping with a dog are easy to navigate. If you plan to go canoe or kayak camping, however, this poses more of a challenge when letting Fido tag along.

Don’t worry! If you want to take your furry friend along for the ride, the logistics may not be as complicated as you think. Canoe/kayak camping is just as enjoyable for a dog as it is for a human and it’s safe if you use a bit of common sense and caution. Today, you are going to learn about what you can do to make canoe/kayak camping as fun as possible for your pup.

What is canoe/kayak camping?

Some people may want to try out a new form of camping but don’t know exactly what that may entail. Canoe/kayak camping consists of traveling by either of these boats to a camping destination; it’s sort of like backpacking on the water! This allows you to travel long distances in a short amount of time.

Which is better for camping with a dog: canoe or kayak?

There is no definite answer as to which watercraft would be best for every camper and their dog. What you should use to travel depends on several personal factors. While one size doesn’t fit all, there are some recommendations as to what you should do based on the needs of yourself and your hairy passenger.

A canoe is right for you if…

  • Your dog is of a bigger breed. As you may have already noticed, kayaks can be a tight squeeze even if you use one meant for two people. Bigger dogs may fare better sitting pretty in the middle of a canoe.
  • You are camping with another person. Kayaks can be steered by one person alone, but it’s a little trickier to do that in a canoe. Two people usually paddle together. If a third camper is joining you and your dog, a canoe would be the best (and probably the only) option.
  • You are bringing a considerable amount of gear. Kayaks are meant for traveling light. If going bare bones isn’t your style, you need more room on the floor for the gear you brought. This is the best situation if you want your pup to be comfortable. Don’t bring too much, though. This will be tedious to carry and could offset the balance of your boat, possibly causing it to capsize.

A kayak is right for you if…

  • Your dog is of a smaller breed. A two-person kayak can easily and comfortably allow your pet to glide on the water with you if they can fit in the seat without being too cramped.
  • You are traveling with your dog alone. Obviously, a kayak is not going to accommodate you, your dog, and another person feasibly. Putting your pup on your lap while you row isn’t always the best idea, so letting them have their own seat is the safest option.
  • You and your dog have experience traveling on the water together. Beginners should definitely use a canoe when camping with their pets. After all, these naive pups are more likely to jump over the side. The sides of a kayak are lower than that of a canoe, so it’s best that you use one only with the most well-behaved and experienced dogs.

What do you bring for a dog on a canoe/kayak camping trip?

When it comes to kayak or canoe camping with your dog, the most important rule is “safety first.” Everything you pack is for the wellbeing and happiness of your pet, so make room for whatever your pooch needs. Let’s talk about what those items are and why you should bring them.

  • A life preserver/life jacket.

Both you and your pup should be wearing some sort of flotation device, even if you are confident swimmers. Some situations are out of your hands, especially if you travel on rougher waters (though that isn’t highly recommended with a pet.) It is always better to be safe than to be sorry. When you put a life preserver or life jacket on your dog, you are ensuring his protection in many instances. Find one here.

  • Water Bowl

Though you may be surrounded by it, the water you will be traveling on isn’t always safe for your pet to drink from. You can’t guarantee its safety, so bring some water and a water dish along to keep your pup hydrated. Besides, you need these items for the on-land portion of your camping trip anyway.

  • Treats and dry food.

Your dog is sure to get hungry on the trip and he may need a little bit of encouragement if he’s new to the canoe/kayak camping experience. Using positive reinforcement, you can train your dog to like being in the canoe! You will need dry food when you reach land as well.

  • A towel.

Towels are essential for all passengers when you go canoe or kayak camping. For your dog, a towel can be both a comfortable seat and a tool to dry off if/when he gets wet.

  • A leash.

This is something you will need for the dry part of your trip because it keeps your pup safe and many campsites require you to keep a pet on one for the safety of others.

  • A first aid kit.

You will most definitely need a first aid kit for yourself, but there are a few items that benefit your dog in the case of injury, too. Items like waterproof medical tape, Benadryl, and painkillers prescribed by a vet can give your dog much-needed relief in an emergency scenario.

  • A dry bag.

Let’s face it; at some point, your dog is probably going to get wet. When he does, he’ll probably shake off droplets onto sensitive gear like your phone, potentially ruining the tools you need for a successful camping trip. You should bring one anyway even if you aren’t camping with a dog. Looking for the best dry bag on the market? Check here.

  • Dog toys.

When your dog is finally on land, he’s going to have stored up a lot of energy! You need to engage with him and play in order to strengthen your bond and to tire him out when it’s time to calm down. For this, just take some from his favorite collection at home.

If your dog has other needs, be sure that you pack the extra items you should in order to keep your pet safe and happy.

What are some safety tips for canoe/kayak camping with a dog?

Again, the first thing to note is that you should always put the safety of yourself and your pet first. Pets are like children; they need your guidance. Be sure that you always exercise caution so you can come home happy and healthy together.

  • Always make your pup wear his life jacket/preserver. It doesn’t matter if your dog whines about having to put on a life jacket; you should do it anyway. Ignore those puppy dog eyes and use a little bit of tough love! To make things easier for him, give him treats for being good and use words of encouragement. This is part of the positive reinforcement process.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in a canoe/kayak or in the water. Most dogs are happy as a clam when they go swimming. Yours might be jumping at the chance to dive in! While this is safe in a clean, calm environment under your supervision, the same can’t be said if you turn your back. It’s very easy for a dog to drown, so make sure that you stay vigilant.
  • Consider planning your route where the waters aren’t rough. The faster the current, the more dangerous the trip will be for you and for your dog. While you are conscious of the risks and may choose to accept them, your dog can’t do the same. Skip the rapids and look for more placid waters to row in.
  • Keep your dog hydrated. The hot sun will likely be beating down on both of you at some point. Dogs can sweat like humans do, causing them to become dehydrated. Allow your pup to drink from a water bowl with safe water in it every so often.

Canoe/kayak camping is a lot of fun if you do it right. Bringing a pet adds an extra element of joy to the trip, but only if you know how to handle any situation. Pack everything you need, make sure your dog is comfortable with being in a boat like this, and always keep an eye on your furry friend. If you do that, your trip should be a complete success!

Adventure is out there; go enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer with your dog. I guarantee that you’ll make fond memories that will last a lifetime.

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Rickie Arms

Hi, I'm Rickie Arms, owner of Glampingorcamping.com. I am so invested in writing the best and most informative articles for you that I went out and bought a travel trailer just so I could write about it for you. I spend just about all of my off time both camping and glamping so I can share everything I have learned and will learn with you. I have spent my whole life camping and over the last 10 years, I have spent a large amount of time checking out glamping experiences with my wife and kids as well. Thank you for coming by and we hope to see you back here getting great information in the future. Rick Arms-

One thought on “Taking Your Dog Canoe or Kayak Camping ( Safety, Packing and VS )

  1. I love taking my dog everywhere but you didn’t give any guidance on what to do if my dog gets freaked out by being out on the water.

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