Kayaking with Dogs and More Dog-Friendly Lake Adventures

11 Minute Read
Updated July 1, 2023

There's nothing quite like spending some quality time with your dog in nature, and when you combine that with the excitement of dog water sports, you're in for an unforgettable experience. Learn some simple tips for kayaking with dogs and more fun dog-friendly lake adventures.

Did you know that many of your favourite summer lake adventures can be dog friendly too?

Lots of water activities and sports can be done with your dog. Most dogs love to try new things as long as you are by their side, so the next time you go to the lake, don't leave Fido at home or on the shoreline; Bring him along for some safe and fun water activities!


5 Dog-Friendly Lake Adventure Ideas

If you are anything like us, you take your dog with you just about anywhere you can, so why not take them to the lake with you too?

If you like camping with dogs, hitting the lake on your next trip can add a new and exciting adventure.

Whether you're a seasoned water sports enthusiast or a beginner looking to make a splash, below are a variety of lake adventures for you and your pup to enjoy.


1. Kayaking with Dogs

Kayaking with a dog may not be the first thing you think of when thinking about lake adventures with your dog, but it’s a wonderful experience for both of you to have.

Gone are the days when you had to leave your furry friend on the shore! Now your pup can be right alongside you as you paddle down a calm lake on a summer’s day. 

When kayaking with a dog, it’s important to choose the best dog kayak to take on the water. This is to ensure your dog is stable enough and not likely to jump out of the kayak if they feel unbalanced.

What Kind of Kayak Is Safe for Dogs?

Whether you’re renting or buying a kayak, the best kayak for dogs are:

  • Recreational kayaks: These are beginner-friendly kayaks because they are wider and, therefore, more stable. This is perfect for dogs as they will feel more secure whilst paddling along the water. Either hardshell or inflatable kayaks can be used. Just be sure to get one made from durable materials.
  • Tandem kayaks: Depending on the size of your dog, you may want to get a tandem (2-person) kayak. This will have enough room for both you and your dog to fit comfortably. Look for a tandem kayak with removable seats that can be paddled solo.
  • Sit-on-top kayaks: Dogs tend to prefer a sit-on-top kayak as they won’t be confined to a cock-pit as with a sit-in kayak. Sit-on-top kayaks are also easier to get in and out of, making it better for dog owners. 

How to Help Your Dog Get Comfortable in a Kayak

It’s best to introduce your dog to the kayak before you head to the water. If you are renting a kayak, try to arrive a little bit earlier to allow your dog to naturally enquire about the kayak.  Here are a few tips to help your dog get comfortable with this type of watercraft: 

  1. If your dog is nervous about the kayak, you can try incentivizing them with some delicious doggy snacks. Place high-value dog treats near, on, and in the kayak and encourage your dog to explore the craft. 
  2. Teach your dog where he should sit in the kayak. Use simple commands like spot or stay and treat them to encourage this behaviour. 
  3. Prepare them for the water. Practicing on land is different than in the water. Before you set sail, let your dog experience the bob of the water and practice standing and sitting in the kayak while in shallow water or next to the dock.
  4. Practice getting out of the kayak. This might seem a little scary at first, but your dog will quickly learn to safely exit the kayak. 

CTAs_Soft & Chewy Dog Treats


2. Paddle Boarding with Dogs


Paddleboarding with your dog is a great way to enjoy the lakes this summer whilst also spending some quality time with your dog. You can ensure their safety and comfort as you glide across the water by choosing a dog paddle board that accommodates you and your canine companion.

What Is a Dog Paddle Board?

Dog paddle boards are paddle boards that cater to the needs of both dog owners and their dogs. Key characteristics include:

    • Being made from durable materials to withstand dog paws. 
    • Have deck pads to grip your dog so they don’t slip off.
    • Are wider and longer to provide stability and enough room for a dog to lie down.
    • Has a larger weight capacity to accommodate the extra weight of a dog.

Tips for Getting On and Off the Dog Paddle Board

Getting on and off the paddle board with your dog can seem a bit tricky at first, but there are a few steps you can take to make things a little easier.

  1. Place half the paddle board into the water and leave half on the shore with the front of the board facing the shore.
  2. Whilst facing the shore, get on the board and remain in the kneeling position.
  3. Ask your dog to get on the board and either sit or lie down, keeping them close to your body so they feel secure. Offer a small dog treat as an incentive. 
  4. With your paddle, gently push away from the shore and out into the water. Remain in the kneeling position until you feel comfortable standing up - this may take a few trips.
  5. When returning to the shore, paddle until the nose of the board hits the shore. When it’s safe to do so, you can give your dog their “release” command so they know they can jump off.
  6. You can now climb off the board and pull it fully onto the shore. 

With a little bit of patience and practice, you and your dog can master the art of paddle boarding together, turning this adventure into a cherished pastime. Just remember to take breaks. Even though your dog may be lying down or sitting the whole time, they are still using all their muscles to remain balanced and not slip off. 


3. Dog Dock Diving 

Dog dock diving is perfect for those dogs who love to get their paws wet! This is where you throw a waterproof dog toy into the lake, and your dog has to run along the dock and jump into the water to retrieve it. 

This is a high-energy dog sport for dogs that are prey-driven or very dog toy focused. Swimming is a required skill though, so make sure your dog is a practiced and confident swimmer before letting him take the plunge. 

Not only is this a fun and enjoyable way to exercise your dog, but will also strengthen your bond together as you compete for the number one prize. 

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Competitive Dog Diving

If you find your dog really enjoys this activity, they may want to do it competitively. You can enter your dog into competitions where they will be judged on how high and how far they can jump to retrieve their toy.

Check out what competitive dock diving looks like in the video below:


4. Canoeing with Dogs

If you prefer a more relaxing lake experience, then consider canoeing with your dog. The longer and wider size of a dog canoe compared to kayaks and paddle boards make it much more stable so your dog can fully relax and soak in the rays. 

Before you canoe with a dog, make sure your dog is comfortable within and around the canoe. You can put a towel down for them to lie on, which also gives them some grip to keep them from slipping.

Begin with short trips on calm waters at first so your dog can become accustomed to the sounds and movements of canoeing. You’ll soon realize how much fun boating with a dog can be. 


5. Swimming with Your Dog

A much more simple way to enjoy the lakes this summer is by swimming in them with your dogs. The lakes provide dogs with a great way to cool down, exercise, and socialize with other pups.

Not only is lake swimming an excellent low-impact workout that can improve your dog's overall health and well-being, but it also offers a fantastic opportunity for mental stimulation as they navigate the water and explore their surroundings. 

Before diving in, it's important to check that the lake is safe for swimming and free from hazards such as strong currents, pollution, or debris that your dog might hurt themselves on.

Be sure to check the temperature of the water in the earlier summer months to ensure it is not too cold to swim in. 

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Dog Lake and Water Safety

Before you head to the lake this summer, it's important to plan for keeping your dog safe so they have an enjoyable experience. The right gear and preparations will make your favourite doggy water sports easier and safe. 

Check out our Dog Lake Adventure Checklist:

  • Dog life jacket: Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, it’s advised to put them in a dog life jacket if you are venturing far from the shore. This is in case they fall out of the boat. All dogs will eventually tire in the water, and a dog life jacket will help them stay afloat and be seen when this happens. Most dog life vests also come with handles to make pulling them aboard much easier.
  • Freshwater: Make sure to bring some fresh water and a water bowl on the trips for your dog to drink. Try to bring a bowl that won’t get hot in the sun like a metal bowl will.
  • Dog treats: Dog treats can be used to coax your dog onto the paddle board or into the kayak/canoe.
  • Bathroom breaks: Remember to allow for potty breaks before and during the trips. Don’t forget to pack the poop bags
  • Exploration: Allow your dog to explore the new places you visit on your lake adventures to give their muscles a break. This also allows them to smell all the new and exciting items that the new place has to offer.
  • Paw protection: Be aware of how hot the kayak or canoe is getting in the sun so your dog’s paw pads don’t get burnt. A good trick is to put a towel or yoga mat down for your dog to lie on, which will absorb the heat from the sun.
  • Dog tags: Make sure the information on your dog’s tag is up-to-date and relevant. This is to ensure you can be reunited if separated.
  • Lake etiquette: As excited as your dog may be to make friends with the ducks and beavers, it’s important they don’t disturb the wildlife when out on the water. This may include barking, growling, or jumping in to swim closer to them. 


Benefits of Dog Water Sports 

Spending quality time with your dog while enjoying the great outdoors is a wonderful experience for both you and your dog. From kayaking to dock diving, there are plenty of ways to bond with your dog, create unforgettable memories, and maintain a healthy lifestyle this summer.

Here are a few good reasons to try some dog water sports this summer:

    • Exercise: Dogs need daily exercise, some more than others. Water activities offer high aerobic and low-impact exercise to strengthen muscles and build stamina.
    • Mental Stimulation: Dogs can get bored with the same old routine day in and day out. Bust your dog's boredom with exciting lake activities. 
    • Bond: Most lake activities offer a one-on-one experience that allows you to spend quality time with your canine companion.

By taking safety precautions and being mindful of your dog's comfort, you can ensure their lake adventures are as enjoyable as possible.

So grab your life jackets, pack a few treats, and head to the nearest lake with your canine companion for an adventure filled with splashes, laughter, and wagging tails!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I take my dog kayaking with me?

Yes, many dogs enjoy kayaking trips. However, always make sure your furry friend wears a well-fitting life jacket.

Are there specific dog-friendly kayaking locations?

In Canada, some lakes and rivers are more dog-friendly than others. Research in advance to find suitable locations that allow dogs.

How do I introduce my dog to kayaking for the first time?

Start with short, calm rides close to the shore to help your dog get used to the kayak. You can then extend the duration of the rides as they become more comfortable.

What safety precautions should I take when kayaking with my dog?

Ensure your dog wears a life jacket, bring fresh water, and protect them from sun exposure.

Can my dog swim while kayaking?

Yes, if your dog is a confident swimmer and enjoys it put a life vest on the pooch for safety and make sure they don't stray too far fro you. 

Are there other dog-friendly lake adventures besides kayaking?

You can enjoy activities like paddleboarding, swimming, and hiking around dog-friendly lakes. 

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Written by

Hannah Fitchett

Hannah is the proud dog mom of Makai, a Wolfdog with a penchant for naps and snacks. Hannah has a strong love for all animals but a special fondness of dogs. With a Masters degree in Chemistry and a love for writing, Hannah aims to share the latest scientific studies and expert knowledge with dog lovers worldwide through her blog, Howling Wolf Pack.


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