Things to Bring with you kayaking

Kayaking Instructions

Frequently Asked Questions


Things to bring with you

We recommend you wear clothes that dry easily and water shoes
or footwear that is secure and you don't mind if they get wet.

Water & bowl for your dog
Water & Snack for yourself

If you wear glasses you may want to bring your spare glasses to use or put
croakies on your glasses to keep them from falling in the water. ( they can't swim ). 

You may also wish to bring a disposable water camera,
though we usually have a camera with us.



ADJUST YOUR EQUIPMENT:  Take time to properly adjust the kayak seat & foot pegs before you leave shore, we will help you with adjustments.

You paddle has a correct way to be held.  We will instruct you on how to orient your paddle, remember to check for proper orientation when you are paddling.
THE FIRST STEP For most dogs we will get you settled into the kayak, then have your dog get into the kayak with you. When you are both settled we will shove you kayak out onto the pond. It is recommend that you just drift for awhile while your dog gets used to being in the boat. This allows you to hold them, pet them and talk to them.  In a few minutes you will be able to start paddling.

Some dogs love the water sooo much all they want to do is swim.  Occasionally we will have an owner paddle from shore and let their dog swim after them.  They paddle out a ways and back tiring the dog out a little, then they can come to shore and load the dog into the kayak with them.

WHEN PADDLING, STAY AWAY FROM SHORE: When you are kayaking with your dog do not kayak near the shore as it increases the likelihood that your dog might choose to leave the kayak and swim to shore.
WHEN PADDLING, STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE FISHING FROM SHORE: In order to be "good neighbors" we keep out kayaks away from the fisherman.  To keep you dog safe from fishing lines and hooks, keep your kayak and dogs away from the fisherman.
STAY AWAY FROM OTHER BOATS: Keeping a safe distance from other kayaks will help keep your dog's attention on you.  Paddling near other dogs causes arousal that could result in an unexpected swim. Stay away from other boats especially fisherman.
STAY CLEAR OF WEEDS AND DEBRIS: Stay out of the weedy areas of the pond. This would not be a fun place for your kayak to tip.
AVOID CAPSIZING BY GETTING YOUR DOG OUT OF THE BOAT: If your dog is rocking the boat and you are unable to secure them, toss them out of the boat.  It is better that they are in the water, than having both of you in the water.
AVOID CAPSIZING BY LETTING YOUR DOG SWIM:  If your dog tries to get out of the boat and you are having a lot of trouble stopping them, let them get out and swim.
SECURE VALUABLE ITEMS: secure items in the boat, leave valuable items at home or in your car.  ( we can lock keys in our vehicle)
SECURE DOGS WHO MIGHT RUN OFF: Some dogs may need a floating rope attached to them.  This applies to dogs that are known to run off. ( let us know)
HOW SHOULD YOUR DOG RIDE IN THE BOAT: Most dogs like to sit facing forward, some prefer to sit facing you.  Either is doable, but there are advantages to having your dog sit facing forward.  If your dog is sitting forward you can learn to hold them in a sitting position with your knees.  Dogs should be discouraged from bow riding unless they are very small. Some dogs will lie down and enjoy the ride.

dog sitting facing forward

dog sitting facing the owner

When your dog is swimming around your kayak there are many things to consider. 

Don't paddle away from them too fast as they will either panic and try to catch you swimming harder than they should or they may abandon you and swim towards shore.

Don't let the dog catch the back of the kayak, they will try to climb onto the back.

Keep a distance of about 30 feet adjusting to your dogs personality.

Some dogs are very relaxed in the water and will readily swim along side your kayak.  If the dog is swimming parallel to you they can swim near the kayak.  They will learn to stay away from your paddle. 

If your dog is swimming at you ( not parallel, then you need to move ahead of them until you are ready to bring them in the boat.

Good example of watching the dog following the kayak, keeping an appropriate distance.


Good example parallel swimming, notice the dog is going forward not towards the kayak.




Getting your dog back into the kayak

1. Turn your kayak to get your dog coming perpendicular to the kayak on your strong side. This is the side you will be pulling the dog into the kayak from.

2. When you are ready to pull your dog into the kayak, place your paddle in the water on the opposite side of the boat. ( don't worry it floats and it's on a leash )

3. Take your time, your dog is wearing a lifejacket, he is fine.  Even if he looks a little wild or panicked... take your time.

4. Get the dog at the side of your kayak even with your lap ( not behind you )

5. Turn the dog perpendicular to the boat and encourage them to put their feet on the side of the kayak. Lean slightly towards the dog to lower the kayak side.  The dog's PFD has a handle on it to help you pull them into the kayak.

6. Pull the dog towards you.  As the dogs feet come up on to the kayak, lean away from the dog as you pull them into the boat. (don't over lean)  As soon as the dogs front feet are in the kayak center yourself and help the dog get his rear legs in and turn around and sit.

7.  If you don't think you can get your dog into the boat safely, don't try it yourself, paddle away from your dog ( he will swim behind you) and we will come help you.



Kayaking with more than one dog.

After each of your dogs have mastered kayaking individually, then they can learn to kayak with you together.  You must be sure that the kayak's weight capacity is sufficient to accommodate the weight of both you & your dogs.




Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I have never kayaked before what should I do?
A.  We recommend that people who are not familiar with kayaking take one kayaking session without their dog to learn how to paddle and turn the boat prior to kayaking with your dog.  Your dog's safety depends on your ability to manage the kayak.
Q. How much kayaking experience do I need?
A.  You should be comfortable paddling the kayak and have the ability to change directions quickly.  This is necessary in the event the dog leaves the kayak and you have to go get him.
Q. My husband and I would like to do this together do we each have to have a dog?
A.  You may reserve 2 kayaks even if you only have one dog. ( you may also reserve 2 kayaks for 2 dogs )
Q. My dog hates the water I don't think we can kayak.
A.  If your dog hates the water he will probably stay in the boat, making kayaking a little easier
Q. My dog loves the water I don't think he will stay in a boat.
A.  Most dogs will stay in the kayak, if yours won't your dog can swim beside the kayak until he becomes tired, then he can learn to ride in the boat.
Q.  I am worried because my dog can't swim
A.  We have life jackets that will fit your dog
Q. Do I have to wear a life jacket I am a good swimmer
A.  Yes, we require life jackets.
Q. Can't I just come with my kayak ?
A. We have a fleet of kayaks that are particularly stable and well suited to kayaking with dogs.  Not all kayaks are stable enough to kayak with a dog.
Q. Can you teach my dog to swim ?
A.  The three lessons we focus on are... 
Lesson 1: Teaching your dog to ride in the kayak with you .  
Lesson two: teaching your dog to swim beside the kayak. 
Lesson three:  teaching you how to get the dog in and out of the kayak. 
Sometimes we can achieve these lessons in one session, sometimes it may take 2 or 3 sessions.  It is best to let the dog learn as they are ready
Q. I'd like to kayak with both of my dogs
A.  We can allow this if both dogs have kayaked and have acceptable skills and fall within kayaks weight limits.



The Smartydog Center for Canine Enrichment
312 East Johnson Avenue Cheshire, CT 06410
( 2 miles from I-691)


Martha T Bailey CKO CBS
years experience for you & your dog