3 Must Haves for Kayaking with Your Dog

Last year my dad gave us his two sit on top fishing kayaks. I’m not much for fishing, but being out on the water in the quiet and soaking in that coolest part of a summer morning on a little lake with my dog – yes, please. I quickly set about learning everything I could about teaching my dogs how to behave on the kayaks and figuring out what gear was absolutely necessary. Luckily, my friend Paula who owns Canine Country Academy is also a kayaking with dogs fan, so I was able to pick up some great tips. Now that we are preparing for our second summer exploring the nearby lakes & ponds here in Georgia – I have a list of some must haves that I make sure are ALWAYS with me whenever we go paddling with our dogs.

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday.”

– A. A. Milne

Learn why a sunrise session might be perfect for your dog with Atlanta pet photographer CM Bryson

Life Jackets for Dogs

The number one must have for kayaking with your dog is a well fitted PFD (personal flotation device) for your canine passenger. When kayaking with dogs, just like pet photography, dog safety is the most important thing.

While many dogs are great swimmers, not all dogs swim well. Additionally, most dogs paddle with just their front legs, the famous doggie paddle, which can let them quickly tire out. Swimming to shore from any distance can be exhausting for a scared pup that just fell from a kayak or paddle board. And a capsize from your boat can have your pup scared or disoriented, so having the built in buoyancy of a life vest can safe their life.

Lastly, if your dog loves going for a little dip – having the handle on a life vest makes it so much easier to help them back into your watercraft without you going for an unplanned swim yourself.

A few of my favorite dog life vests are from Kurgo, Outward Hound, & Ruffwear. I’ve also seen good ones at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, & Home Goods!

Super sizing details can raise your dog photography to modern art on your walls.

A Non Slip Mat for Kayaking with Dogs

Many kayaks and paddle boards are made from plastic and can be slippery, especially when wet. I’ve ordered various dog begs, waterproof mats, contact paper, etc – but I’ve found something that works great and is readily available!

I bought foam bath mats with rubber bottoms from Dollar General! They don’t slip and slide, have a little cushion for my princess pup, can act as a cooling mat if I dip them in the lake, and fit right in the washing machine at home.


As a bonus, they also come in a wide variety of colors and patterns so I can have something pretty & functional!

Photographing dogs is a better experience for everyone when your pet photographer understands canine body language.

Biothane Collars for Dogs

The only thing that smells worse than a wet dog is a moldly wet dog collar that’s been around your wet dog’s neck. 

I love my dog’s pretty collars, and they have quite the collection, but for kayaking – we’re fancs of biothane. BioThane is completely waterproof , durable and non-porous so it does not retain odors.

BioThane® is the brand name of all coated webbing products made by BioThane Coated Webbing Corp. It’s basically a polyester webbing with a TPU or PVC coating. 

My dogs wear their brightly collared biothane collars on the boats and then they are super easy to wipe off after playing in the water. 

Great Pyrenees dog from Madison Georgia
What’s your favortie summer activity with your dog?

Is your dog a water baby? I’m currently looking for some water loving dogs to model for an upcoming project!

This blog is part of an international circle of pet photographers. Each week we blog on a certain topic and invite you on a trip around the world. This week’s theme is “Go Jump in a Lake!”

Next up BARKography by Kim Hollis based in Charlotte NC shares photos of dogs that can JUMP!

Just click the link at the end of each blog post until you find yourself back here!

What to read next?


  1. Tracy Allard

    Kayaking with your dog looks like so much fun! I love all the tips to have a fun, and safe, outing on the lake with your dog (and I too am a fan of biothane, so easy to take care of and NOT stinky!)

  2. Cahlean

    Ooooo! Kayaking with dogs looks like it’s tons of fun as well as a cool adventure! Love the tip about the bathmats for grip!

  3. holly

    Those biothane collars and leashes are a must have for any dog who goes into water. i’ve only recently discovered them and love them. i also love that they come in such a variety of colors… like the rug for your dog. what an ingenious idea!

  4. elaine

    I really needed to read this blog post. I so want to take one of our dogs kayaking. This is just the best advice and tips post ever! Bookmarked.


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