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Kayak Fishing With Your Dog: A Bad Idea?

Nicola Burridge
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You have a kayak, you have a dog, and you want to go fishing. But can you go kayak fishing with dogs? The answer to that will depend on at least two key things: your dog and your kayak.

Because all dogs, people, and kayaks are different, we’ve put some information together to help you decide whether kayak fishing is the right team activity for you and your canine buddy.  

Kayak Fishing With Your Dog: A Bad Idea? - Pinterest ImagePin

Is Kayak Fishing With Your Dog A Bad Idea?

This will probably depend on your dog. Some dogs will take to kayak fishing quickly and easily, and make great fishing companions. Others may never get used to the kayak. Or they might try to take your fish or jump off the kayak every time they see a bird or any other wildlife.

Introduce Your Dog To Kayaking (And Fishing)

It’s a good idea to introduce your dog to kayaking gradually to get them comfortable with the idea. This can allow them to get used to the deck and the movement of the kayak on the water.

It can be useful to introduce your dog to the kayak for the first time on land, so that by the time you hit the water, the dog is already familiar with the boat. As with any new training, treats can be useful.

If you’ve never taken your dog fishing at all, it can be a good idea to do that before you add a kayak into the mix. Start by fishing from a bank or pier, to see how your dog will respond to the sights and sounds of the fish and equipment.

Casting a lure out into the water can be exciting for some dogs who may think it’s something to chase, catch, and retrieve.

Make sure you practice commands before kayaking with your dog so that you know your dog will consistently respond to you, even if there are new distractions.

Use A Dog Life Jacket

Dog Wearing A Life Jacket On A KayakPin

Even though your dog might know how to swim, a dog life jacket can save your dog’s life in an emergency. Dog life vests usually fit around your dog’s neck and chest, similar to a harness.

The foam padding is designed to provide flotation to keep your dog’s head above water while they are swimming and if they begin to tire during a rescue situation. Most dog life jackets have a handle on the top so that you can easily lift your dog back into the kayak if they jump or fall off. 

Currents and rough water can cause dogs to struggle and panic, even if they can swim well, just like humans. So it’s best to be on the safe side and have your dog wear a life jacket. Remember, you should also wear a life jacket.

Enough Deck Space

For your dog to be comfortable on a kayak, there should be enough room for them to lay down. Kayaks vary by size and design, so not all kayaks will have enough room for a four-legged friend to tag along.

A kayak with a flat deck can be a good option, as this can let you place a dog mat or bed in a small area so that your dog can feel more at home. You might want to think about adding some non-slip deck padding to prevent your dog from sliding around.

Sit-on-top kayaks may offer more room for you and your dog compared to sit-inside kayaks.

Fishing Dangers

If you have a lively dog who loves to chase wildlife and anything else that looks fun, taking your dog kayak fishing might not be the best idea.

Some dogs will want to chase the lures or eat the bait. You might find they also want to eat the fish you’ve just caught (or even the ones you haven’t yet caught).

Yellow Labrador Retriever dog fishingPin

Fish that are swimming in clear water beneath your kayak can be attractive to some dogs who might want to jump in the water to investigate.

If you plan to fish in waters where there are sharks or alligators, it can be a good idea not to bring your dog at all. Alligators in particular can be lured by the smell of a dog on a kayak, which could prove dangerous (or even fatal) to both you and your dog.

Dogs can be easy targets for sharks as well as alligators, due to their size. And catching fish can mean you’re encouraging these predators to come closer to you than you’d like.  

Do You Need A Bigger Boat?

Kayaks might not always be the best choice for fishing with your dog. If you have a large dog, there might not be sufficient room on a kayak for your dog to feel comfortable.

Some canoes can be better for dogs, with more room for them to move around and find a comfortable spot.

If you want more room and great stability, an alternative to a kayak is an inflatable pontoon boat or raft. These wider boats can provide space for you, your dog, and your fishing gear (and sometimes extra passengers). 

Conclusion: Will Your Dog Be Paws-itively “Hooked”?

Kayak fishing can be a great activity for you and your best (four-legged) friend. But as you now know, it might not be a good idea for all kayak (and canine) anglers.

If your dog is calm in new surroundings, they might be the perfect companion for a kayak fishing trip.

If your dog is excitable or wary in new situations, it can be best to desensitize them well in advance through the use of treats and a gradual introduction. In these cases, a larger vessel might be a better option if you don’t want to leave your buddy at home.  

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