There are many activities to take up with your dog, from hiking the mountains to surfing the swells in the Pacific. Most dogs enjoy going out on the water with their families, especially on the family boat for the day. However, large boats can be a hassle to transport from one lake to another. That’s where the kayak comes in! Kayaks are great because they’re not too heavy, they’re durable for multiple years of use, and you can easily bring your dog along for a day out on the water.
Kayaks come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, so it can be difficult to find the right kayak for you and your dog. Luckily, we’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. We looked for the best kayaks available and gave our honest review of each one. Here are our picks for the best kayak for dogs:
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||Lifetime Tandem Fishing||
|Best Value||Intex Explorer K2||
|Premium Choice||Perception Hi Life||
The 8 Best Kayaks for Dogs
1. LifetimeTandem Fishing Kayak – Best Overall
Intex 68307EP Lifetime 90121 Tandem Fishing Kayak is a sit-on-top tandem kayak that is perfect for fishing and paddling on the lake with your dog. It’s made out of High-Density Polyethylene that has UV protection and long-lasting durability, preventing it from being damaged and scratched while in use.
This kayak has a weight capacity of 500 pounds, so most dogs can safely ride on top without sinking it. It can sit up to three people or two people and a dog, so you won’t have to leave anyone behind on your fishing trips. It’s built with a flat-bottom hull that provides much-needed stability, which helps reduce the likeliness of the kayak tipping or flipping over. It also has multiple clips and straps for belongings, as well as a covered hatch to keep your backpack and supplies safe from the water.
The only issue we found is that it may be difficult for beginners to maneuver, so it may not be suitable if you’re new to kayaks. Other than that, we recommend trying the Lifetime 90121 Tandem Fishing Kayak if you’re looking for the best overall kayak for you and your dog.
2. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak – Best Value
The Intex 68307EP Explorer K2 Kayak is a tandem kayak that’s great for first-time kayak buyers. This tandem kayak is fully inflatable that comes with an air pump, so you won’t have to buy an additional accessory to inflate it. It has fully adjustable seats with inflatable backrests, giving your body support and comfort for your dog.
This kayak has a weight limit of 400 pounds, which is suitable for most single riders with one small to a large-sized dog or two riders together with one small dog. It’s also on the affordable side compared to other kayaks, especially for a multi-rider kayak. However, this kayak is not meant for bigger bodies of water, so it’s better suited for small rivers and lakes for a safer experience. It can also be time-consuming to inflate, which is why we kept it out of our #1 spot.
Aside from these concerns, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is the best kayak for dogs for the money.
3. Perception Hi Life 11 Kayak – Premium Choice
The Perception 9351599174 Hi Life 11 Kayak is a premium hybrid kayak. This model is a kayak and a paddleboard in one unit, giving you two different options to enjoy the lakes and rivers nearby. It’s got a built-in cooler for snacks and drinks as well as a cup holder for your coffee, so you’ll have a place to store snacks for you and your dog for a day out on the water. It also has an elevated seat with cushions for your comfort and low sides with straps, making it easy to get in and out for everyone.
However, this kayak sits only one person plus your dog, so it may not be the best choice if you want to share it with more than one person. It’s also got a much lower weight capacity than others at 280 pounds, so bigger dogs may put a strain on the kayak as you’re paddling. It’s also on the expensive side for a kayak, so it may not be an ideal option if you’re looking for the best value.
For these reasons, we kept it out of our Top 2. Otherwise, the Perception 9351599174 Hi Life 11 Kayak is a great option.
4. Sea Eagle 370 Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak
The Sea Eagle 370 Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak is a tandem kayak that is fully inflatable and portable. It’s a canoe-style kayak with fully adjustable and inflatable seats, with raised edges and points like a canoe. It can be used on different types of water, from still lake water to moderately flowing rivers. This model can also sit up to two people and your dog, so you can enjoy a day out on the water by yourself or with some company.
However, this inflatable kayak is on the expensive end of inflatables, so it may not be the best choice if you’re sticking to a budget. Another issue is that it can be really time-consuming to inflate it with the foot pump, so you may want to consider an electric air pump if you do choose this kayak. It also may feel unstable and hard to balance compared to other kayaks, due to the nature of the canoe-style shape.
Aside from these concerns, the Sea Eagle Inflatable Sport Kayak can be a good option.
5. Driftsun Voyager 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Kayak
The Driftsun Voyager 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Kayak is a compact kayak that can be used with two people or one person and a dog. It’s made with a pointed bow (front) for stability in choppy water, so it’s safe to use in most rivers and moving water. This inflatable kayak inflates quickly with a hand pump, faster than other inflatable kayaks that may take up to an hour. It also has a decent weight capacity of 450 pounds, which is perfect if you have a bigger dog that may not fit in other kayaks.
However, the Driftsun Voyager Kayak is on the expensive side for inflatable kayaks, without some of the additional features that other models have. It may have a premium price, but it’s made with a lower-quality PVC material than other inflatable kayaks and may not be nearly as durable. This kayak also has a lack of cargo space for your belongings, so it’s not the best model for a full day out on the water. We recommend trying other tandem inflatable kayaks first for more cargo space and overall better quality.
6. Ocean Kayak Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
The Ocean Kayak Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak is a tandem sit-top kayak. This model can sit up to two people plus one dog, so you can enjoy your fishing trip with some company. It comes with gear straps to stabilize your belongings and handles to make it easier to get on and off the kayak, which is important when you’re already out in the water. It’s also suitable for both still and moving waters, making it a versatile kayak for different locations and activities.
While it does have some great features, this kayak isn’t the best for staying dry. This kayak is low to the water surface, so it tends to catch water inside a lot more than other kayaks. It also doesn’t have any cargo space to keep things dry, which can be a deal breaker if you bring food or fishing gear. Lastly, the cheap plastic handle covers are flimsy and break easily, which is frustrating when you’re trying to get onto your kayak. We recommend trying other tandem kayaks first if you’re looking for more cargo space and no quality issues.
7. Elkton Cormorant 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Kayak
The Elkton Outdoors Cormorant 2 Person Tandem Inflatable Fishing Kayak is a two-person kayak with raised edges. It can comfortably seat two people or one person and a dog, so it’s useful for both solo and two-person adventures. It comes with a zippered cargo net to protect your belongings, so you can bring some snacks and fishing gear along for the day.
However, there are some issues that we couldn’t overlook. One issue is that it can be difficult to row and steer, which is a problem if you’re going to be out on the water all day. Another issue is that the air valves are cheaply made, making this kayak difficult to inflate. It’s also time-consuming to inflate this model, although it’s advertised as if it’s easy and fast to inflate. Lastly, the low-quality PVC material is an issue, so the long-term durability is questionable with this kayak.
We recommend trying one of our Top 3 models if you’re looking for a top-quality kayak for you and your dog.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Kayak for Dogs
Taking your dog out in a kayak is incredibly fun for both you and your pooch — but it’s not something you should take lightly, as things can get dangerous if you’re not careful.
In the guide below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about taking your pup out on the open water so that you can both get back on dry land in one piece.
How Do I Know If My Dog’s Ready to Go Kayaking?
The problem with dogs is that they think they can follow you wherever you go, even if it’s not a smart idea for them to tag along (we learned this the hard way on Space Mountain — don’t ask). So, don’t leave it up to your dog to decide if they want to go kayaking, because the answer will invariably be yes.
Instead, analyze their behavior and comfort around water in general. Do they seem at ease, or are they skittish? Are they strong swimmers? Will they let you put a life jacket on them? And, most importantly, will they obey your every command (especially “sit” and “stay”)?
If you’re comfortable with the answers to all these questions, then by all means take your dog out for a day on the lake. If not, though, you’ll need to do a lot more training — or perhaps even put your canine kayaking dreams on ice.
Does My Dog Really Need to Wear a Life Jacket?
Only if you want them to survive. Dogs are born with a swimming instinct, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all strong swimmers. If you capsize, your dog could panic and swim away from you, potentially tuckering themselves out before you can get to them.
A life jacket will help them stay afloat even if they get tired of doggy-paddling — and it will also help you locate them, which can be invaluable if things get out of hand.
Plus, many of them have handles that allow you to snatch your dog out of the water if they fall in. These handles can also come in handy on your way to the water, especially if your dog doesn’t do well around others.
What Else Do I Need to Bring on a Kayaking Trip with My Dog?
Besides the life jacket, you should also bring some food and water — both in water-tight containers, of course. Treats are also a good idea, especially if you plan on doing some training along the way (which we totally recommend).
You should have something comfy for your pup to sit or lay on, and some toys or a chew bone to keep them occupied if they get restless. Just be careful about any toys your dog associates with games of fetch, unless you want them to jump in the water.
Beyond that, it’s a good idea to have a lot of the things you’re probably bringing for yourself, like a first aid kit, sunscreen (yes, dogs can get sunburned too), and some shade. Poop bags are a good idea too, just in case of an onboard accident — and using a bag makes it easier to blame it on the dog.
How Should I Get Started?
You should never just throw your dog in a kayak and start paddling. Instead, acclimate them to it for several days before your big excursion. Let them sniff around it, sit in it, and reward them for not being afraid of it.
Once you think they’re ready to get out on the water, choose calm, shallow waters for your first expedition. This isn’t the time to challenge yourself (or frighten your dog); instead, take it slow and easy, and reward your pooch for being calm and well-behaved.
It’s a good idea to go with a friend the first few times as well, as you never know when you’ll need an extra pair of hands or eyes.
Should I Put My Dog on a Leash or Tether?
Never. While it may seem like a good way to keep your dog from jumping out, it could turn the boat into a death trap if things get hairy.
For one thing, if your dog jumps out because they see a fish and feel a need to chase, they could turn the whole kayak over in the process (or hurt their necks when they reach the end of the tether).
Also, if you flip over, your dog won’t be able to swim far from the kayak, and they may even get trapped under it. This exponentially increases their odds of drowning.
What Should I Do If We Tip Over?
The most important thing is to not panic. Orient yourself and find your dog (this is where that brightly-colored life jacket really comes in handy), then swim over to them and tuck them under your arm.
Speak reassuringly to your pup so that they don’t panic, then swim back to the boat. You can either put your dog in first and then climb aboard, or get in yourself and lift your dog up by the handles on their life jacket.
Should I Buy a Hard-Shell or Inflatable Kayak?
This is ultimately a matter of personal preference, as both have their advantages and drawbacks.
Hard-shells are sturdy and always ready to go, but they’re heavy and require a lot of maintenance. Inflatables are light and easy to store, but they’re harder to control in the water and you’ll have to spend a lot of time airing them up and deflating them.
If you’re buying one exclusively for taking your dog out, we’d recommend starting with an inflatable, as they’re cheaper. That way, if it doesn’t work out because your dog gets scared (or won’t stop chasing fish, as mentioned above), you won’t be out too much money. You can always upgrade to a hard-shell later if you decide you both enjoy it.
Can’t My Dog Puncture an Inflatable Kayak?
Maybe — but we doubt it. These things are incredibly durable, as they’re made to survive run-ins with rocks, brush, and more, so it’s incredibly unlikely that your dog will puncture it accidentally.
Of course, if you just sit there and watch your mutt gnaw on it, it’s possible they could eventually tear a hole in it somewhere. If you just sit there and watch your dog chew on an inflatable kayak, though, you deserve the dip you’re about to take.
The Most Important Thing is to Have Fun
This guide wasn’t meant to scare you off from taking your dog out in a kayak, as it’s tremendously fun and a great way to bond with your pet. However, if you don’t take the necessary precautions, a fun day could quickly take a turn for the worse.
The good news is that with a little bit of planning, training, and experience, you and your pooch can have the time of your lives — all while building up some seriously impressive muscles in the process.
After carefully reviewing and comparing each product, we find the winner of Best Overall Kayak goes to the Lifetime 90121 Tandem Fishing Kayak. It’s made with durable material, can sit up to three people, and has an impressive weight limit of around 500 pounds. It’s the best overall kayak if you’re looking for one that will sit your dog comfortably. For Best Value, we found the winner to be Intex 68307EP Explorer K2 Kayak. This kayak is not only affordable, but it’s easy to inflate and can seat two people. It’s also made by Intex, a well-known brand that makes other inflatable products.
We looked for the best kayaks on the market with you and your dog’s safety in mind. When starting a new activity with your dog, it’s important to fully condition your dog to any new equipment. A local sports and outdoors store can also help you find the best kayak for your needs if you’re still not sure which one is right for you.
Feature Image Credit: Unsplash