Are Inflatable Kayaks Good for Dogs? Tips and Tricks to Keep in Mind

best inflatable kayak

Finding the right inflatable kayak is key for you and your dog to have a safe and enjoyable kayaking adventure. Even if you have a quality built inflatable kayak, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best inflatable kayak for you and your dog

If you know that you are going to regularly go out kayaking with your dog, then you may want to look into a tandem kayak. These two person kayaks will offer more than enough room to comfortably fit you and your dog. 

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs can go in an inflatable kayak. Most inflatable kayaks are made using tough PVC material that is scratch and puncture-resistant.
  • Consider the size of your dog and the type of water you will be kayaking in when choosing a kayak.
  • You’ll want to get an inflatable kayak with high side chambers, wide dimensions, and a high weight capacity to hold you and your dog.
  • Train your dog to get in and out of the kayak and to stay calm while kayaking. Also, make sure your dog has a life jacket.
  • When using an inflatable kayak with your dog, ensure that it is comfortable and secure in the kayak.

Can Inflatable Kayak Material Withstand Dog Claws?

Most inflatable kayaks are made out of a PVC material that is scratch and puncture resistant against pressure from your dog’s claws. Higher-quality kayaks offer a more durable hypalon fabric that is extremely resistant to punctures

Also, unlike traditional inflatables that are used as pool toys, inflatable kayaks are constructed using multiple layers. This multilayer construction offers more protection against your dog’s claws because it was meant to withstand scratches and bumps against rough objects like sharp rocks, twigs, and other debris. 

Typically, if you have a well built, quality crafted inflatable kayak, you should be fine taking your dog along with you. Of course, it helps to do a bit of research on your specific kayak to make sure it is actually friendly for dogs. 

For example, some kayaks like the Sea Eagle 380x have self bailing holes. This feature might throw your pup off guard as you kayak because the boat was designed to take on water. 

Features to Look For in an Inflatable Kayak for Your Dog

Some inflatable kayaks naturally offer features that lend better to paddling adventures that include your dog. Here are some features to look for when you’re shopping around for dog friendly kayaks. 

High Side Chambers

High side chambers will allow dogs to have a clear barrier between them and the water. High side chambers will also protect your dog against accidentally tipping out into the water. 

Wide Dimensions

Wide inflatable kayaks will naturally offer your dog more space to move around. If you have a larger dog, you should especially focus on a wider chamber. Smaller dogs can snuggly fit in narrow kayaks. But for larger dogs like labs like German Shepherds and Labs, a boat ranging from 35 to 45 inches is generally better and offers enough space for them. 

Adequate Weight Capacity

Your boat’s weight capacity is another important feature to look at. Most inflatable kayaks offer up to 350 pound limits for solo paddlers. If you and your dog’s combined weight is larger than the recommended weight, you may want to look into a two seater boat.

Plenty of Storage Options 

Inflatable kayaks that offer plenty of storage options can also be helpful. The extra storage will allow you to put away dog treats, toys, and additional gear you bring on board for your pup. 

How to Kayak with Your Dog: Safety Measures to Practice in Inflatable Kayaks

As with anything, practice always makes perfect. If you want to take your dog out on a kayaking adventure and stay safe, you need to get him used to it first. Here are some safety measures you need to keep in mind when it comes to putting dogs in an inflatable kayak. 

Get Them Comfortable With Inflatable Kayaks

Start by getting your dog comfortable. With your inflatable kayak on land, allow your dog to play around in it, sit in it, and get used to it overall. 

You’ll also want to get them comfortable with you in the kayak as well. You can even use your inflatable kayak handle to share the boat a bit. This will get your pup acclimated to any waves you might experience. 

The next time you take your kayak out, bring along your dog and introduce the kayak to them by allowing them to sit inside the boat and sniff it out. 

Get Your Dog a Life Jacket 

dog pfd

Just as it is important for you to wear a life jacket while you kayak, the same goes for your furry friend. Part of getting your dog comfortable with an inflatable kayak is giving them time to get used to their doggy life jacket. 

Dog life jackets tend to be super snug for your dog, and they can be awkward to get used to. 

Once you introduce your dog to your kayak, introduce them to their life jacket as well. One of the best ways to get them used to the life jacket is by putting it on them while you are at home. 

For fussier dogs, you can acclimate them to the life jacket by having them put it on while you go on a walk or while they run around at home.  

Practice on Land

Before you head out onto the water, practice in your boat on land first. When you practice, put on your dog’s life jacket so they get comfortable and show them where to sit. As you practice, get into the kayak along with them. 

Your goal when you practice on land is to teach them to stay still and not jump out of the kayak. When you feel that they have a good sense of staying in the kayak, you can transition into shallow water or even a backyard pool to practice. 

Teach Them Where to Sit

When you kayak with your dog, they should sit in front of you so that they have a full view of the water before them. This also allows you to fully gauge your dog’s behavior so that you both stay safe while kayaking. 

As you get them comfortable with the kayak, you’ll need to teach them where to sit. For some dogs, this may require training using treats to get them acclimated. 

As you kayak with your dog, it’s helpful to lay down a towel or soft mat under them as well in order to keep them from feeling uncomfortable. This is also a good way to provide more protection between them and your kayak’s material. 

As you practice with your pup, lay down a towel so that they get comfortable with the feeling of it under their paws. 

It can be helpful to bring along snacks and water for them as you kayak as well. Get your dog comfortable on the inflatable kayak by setting up a makeshift feeding station. Have your pup practice getting comfortable using it as well. 

Get Your Dog Used to Your Paddle

Your paddle can be a distracting element for your pup while you’re out on the water. This is especially the case once your paddle starts splashing water and getting wet. One way to help your dog get acclimated is by practicing using your paddle while the two of you are on the boat. 

As you and your dog practice in your kayak on land, get them used to the paddle by air paddling with it. 

Introduce Your Dog to the Water

If you feel that your dog is not jumpy and has acclimated to sitting still in the kayak, it’s time to take them out in the water.

Starty by going out into shallow water and kayaking slowly. Allow your dog to get a feel for the water by starting slow and then increasing your paddling and speed. 

It’s also a great idea to slowly introduce dogs to other water animals like ducks and geese. You may need to use treats to train your dog not to get excited when they see these animals out on the water.  

Important Items to Carry Onboard if You Take a Dog Kayaking

Ask any parent and they will tell you that being prepared is key to avoiding a meltdown when they are out with their children. 

The same goes for dogs. When you bring essential items, you can avoid having your dog get too excitable while out on the water. This will keep you both dry and safe. Here are some key items to bring: 

  • Bring your dog’s water bowl and a lot of snacks. You can even bring along your dog’s lunch if you know you’re going to be out on the water for a while. 
  • Poop bags are essential in case your dog needs to go. Having an extra thick towel laid down can be especially helpful if your dog has an accident while out on the water. 
  • Bring toys that your dog can play with while they are on the boat. 
  • Bring water safe dog toys in case your dog wants to hop into the water.
  • Take an extra towel in case you need to dry off you or your dog. 


Kayaking with dogs can be an extremely fun adventure. But in order to have a safe trip, it’s important to know what you’re doing and what to expect. If you feel your dog is too jumpy or unsure of the water, never take them out. 

If you enjoy exploring the water with your dog, share with us some of your favorite tips in the comments section below! 

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