I have just started kayaking and am thinking of getting a kayak that my dog (80 lb golden doodle) can ride on. I am thinking the sit on top would be the best for the stability. Any suggestions?
@Louise2524 I don't work at REI, and I haven't kayaked with my dog before, but I do kayak a lot myself. I would think that perhaps getting a 2-person kayak and having your dog sit in one of the seats and you in the other might work? Just a thought that perhaps someone who works at REI could better comment on. @REI-JenK @REI-JohnJ perhaps you or one of your coworkers has some thoughts on this topic?
Also, if they make life jackets for dogs, I would highly suggest getting one for yours, just in case something happens and he/she gets knocked unconscious out in the water!
@Louise2524 Thanks for reaching out!
Paddling with your dog can be a super rewarding experience for both you and your pup, and a great way to get outside and adventure together! I've been paddling with my dogs (an 80 pound black lab and a 65 pound alaskan husky sled dog) for 8 years and, for the most part, it has been a ton of fun.
The single most important thing when planning this adventure is to think critically and honestly about your dog and their abilities. Will your dog stay in your boat if you tell them to? Will they come to you when swimming? Are they prone to chase animals? Do they sit and stay well? Are they super energized and have a hard time sitting still? Do they like to swim? Etc. While it is super fun to get out on the water with your dog, the stakes are a bit higher in terms of how quickly things can go wrong. You are the best judge of your dog and what you think they can handle. Ultimately, their safety and yours is the most important. I highly recommend a life jacket, particularly one that has flotation under your dog's neck to help keep their head above water. Swimming is a fun activity but it can wear a dog out, particularly if they are swimming against a current, and the extra flotation can help significantly. Personally, my dog, Hadley, uses a Ruffwear Float Coat, which not only helps her swim (she's a husky so it's not necessarily her favorite activity) but it also helps me get her out of the water and back onto the paddle board with the handle on the back.
When I was first considering a kayak for paddling with my dog (a water loving lab at the time), I thought a sit on top would be the way to go. What I found, however, was that most sit on top kayaks had molded cockpits that would have made it difficult for him to sit or lay down (they were cupped and formed as foot braces). You'll want to take a look at the kayak you are considering and think about how comfortable your dog will be riding on it. Additionally, sit on top kayaks are very buoyant and tend to ride higher in the water when paddling. That is worth considering when thinking about how you will get your dog onto the boat if/when they're swimming.
It is for those two reasons (the comfort of my dog riding on the board and ease of getting them out of the water and back on) that I ended up getting a paddle board for my water adventures. The model I have has a deck fully covered with a thin rubber mat, which allows my dog to be comfortable sitting or laying. I can also drop to my knees and help lift her out of the water and back on to the board without too much trouble.
I have certainly seen dogs on sit on top kayaks and @bryndsharp's suggestion of a tandem kayak is a good one as well. Ultimately it is going to come down to your preferences and what you think your dog can handle best.
Don't hesitate to reach back out if you have more questions. Have fun on the water with your pup!
Hope this helps, thanks!