Have you ever wondered whether you can take a dog in an inflatable kayak? If you’re a big fan of kayaking with your pets and you’re thinking about getting an inflatable for the advantages they offer over hard shell kayaks, this question is bound to come up. Are inflatable kayaks safe for dogs?
Can You Take a Dog In An Inflatable Kayak?
You can safely take a dog in an inflatable kayak, but you do need to take a few precautions – just as you do in a hard shell kayak. Good training and safety equipment are the keys to keeping you and your canine passenger safe on the water.
Is It Safe To Take A Dog In An Inflatable Kayak?
Yes, it is safe to take a dog in an inflatable kayak. If you are wondering about a dog’s paws and claws and whether these might puncture the kayak, you don’t need to worry.
Inflatable kayaks are a lot more durable than common yard toys and inflatables you might use in a pool.
These kayaks are built to withstand being scraped against rocks and bumped on sharp branches. While nothing is impervious to damage, inflatable kayaks are tough.
PumpUpBoats suggests that it may not be made of such durable materials if you have a particularly old inflatable kayak. In that case, you could encounter issues with sharp claws.
However, most kayaks are designed to cope with rocky surfaces will manage just fine with a dog’s claws.
As long as your inflatable kayak is reasonably modern, you should not have any problem with taking your dog in your kayak, even if it’s a big dog.
If you are concerned, consider taking your dog for a manicure or lightly filing the end of your dog’s claws before it hops into the boat.
Alternatively, put some doggy shoes on your pup’s feet to keep its claws off the boat. Although your dog shouldn’t wear shoes for hours on end, so this won’t work for a long trip.
You can also put down a towel or mat for it to sit on. However, the dog will probably not stay on the towel, so this may only work if your dog is remarkably placid.
You can take these steps if they bring you peace of mind, but otherwise, just head out and enjoy the ride. The chances are that your kayak will be fine as long as it is of reasonable quality, and even if it isn’t, you should still be able to paddle to shore.
What Should I Do If My Dog Punctures My Inflatable Kayak?
You might be wondering what you should do if the worst does happen and your dog punctures your kayak, either with its claws or because it suddenly decides to bite the kayak.
Again, this should not be a significant worry because these kayaks are so tough. So even if your dog bites it, it will probably survive – but of course, inflatable kayaks aren’t entirely impervious to damage.
If your dog’s jaws are strong and its teeth are sharp, it could puncture the kayak. Obviously, this will rarely be an issue because your dog is unlikely to have any reason to bite your kayak.
However, you should discourage your dog if it shows any sign of wanting to chew on it.
If your dog does manage to puncture your kayak, don’t panic. Most kayaks are made with multiple inflatable chambers, so even if the kayak gets punctured in one place, it should easily stay afloat. However, you should return to shore so you can deal with the problem.
Even if your dog manages to puncture multiple chambers, your kayak won’t just sink to the bottom of the lake.
It will take time for the air in the kayak to escape, and you should have time to get to shore. So stay calm and paddle to the edge of the lake or river so you can land safely and get out of the kayak.
How Can I Keep My Dog Safe In An Inflatable Kayak?
There are a few things you should do whenever you take your dog out on your kayak, even if the dog is a strong swimmer and fond of water.
Firstly, put a personal flotation device on your dog. This must be designed for dogs and suitable for your dog’s size and breed.
You might think that your dog doesn’t need a life jacket, but the fact is, life jackets are an essential part of kayaking safety for people, and your dog will be safer with one.
Even if your dog can swim well, it could get caught on a branch or rock, it might get chilled in the water, or it may get bumped and injured. However, if your dog is wearing a PFD, it will stay afloat whether or not it can swim for itself, and you will also be able to grab it from the water more easily if it does fall into the water.
A second safety measure involves checking the weight limits of your kayak, especially if your dog is a large breed.
You will probably not be able to safely take a big dog on a solo inflatable kayak, as there won’t be enough space, and the kayak may blow around in the water or sit so low that water spills over the edge.
Always know the weight limits of the kayak before taking your dog or any other passenger.
How Should I Introduce My Dog To An Inflatable Kayak?
One necessary safety precaution involves getting your dog used to kayaking slowly and gently. Do not take your dog whitewater rafting for its first taste on the water, even if you are an extremely experienced kayaker yourself.
Even if your dog has kayaked with you in a hard shell kayak, you should treat a softshell as a new experience.
It will probably feel less stable to the dog, and you may find that your dog is more nervous.
Whether your dog has been kayaking before or not. Start by just getting your dog used to jumping in and out of the boat. You’ll also want to get the dog used to objects such as the oars and how they move. Do this on solid ground.
Don’t encourage your dog to leap in and out of the kayak at will. Or it may do this when the conditions aren’t safe. Set a command that tells it when it is safe to disembark and reward good, calm behavior on the water.
Once your dog is used to the kayak and the oars, you can go out on the water.
Choose a calm, still day to take your dog out for the first time, and select a quiet spot where there are unlikely to be lots of distractions such as ducks, alligators, etc.
Go over safety commands with it and make sure it responds well when you’re on the water.
If your dog seems frightened, stay near the shore and return to land quickly.
Don’t take it on a long trip, even if it’s calm. If your dog doesn’t settle down in the kayak, don’t force it. Not all dogs enjoy being out on the water. And it may be that your dog will never adapt to this.
Give your dog time, but if it doesn’t like kayaking, accept this.
Other Things To Consider
Inflatable kayaks tend to be a little trickier to maneuver than hard-shell ones, especially when the weight balance changes.
Remember that your dog will add weight to the kayak, even if you only have a small dog. If your dog is large, you will need to account for this additional load when thinking about maneuverability.
This is another reason it’s important to do a trial run (or several) on still waters before tackling anything difficult.
Your kayak will handle very differently when you have a dog on board than kayaking solo. For example, you may find it much harder to steer, and you might find that you get tired more quickly.
If you use a tandem kayak to make more space for your dogs. You need to practice before trying anything challenging. These handle differently than solo kayaks and are usually designed for two passengers to be controlling the boat.
Your dog, obviously, is not going to be contributing!
Make sure you know the weight restrictions of your kayak. Don’t exceed them by adding your dog to the load.
You should also carry towels, a sunshade, food/treats, and plenty of water for the dog.
You may not be able to get water from the lake. And you don’t want your dog diving over the edge for a drink. Cold water and a bowl are good ideas, especially when kayaking on a hot day or in the ocean.
That said, you should avoid taking an inflatable kayak in the ocean unless it is made specifically for that purpose.
Ensure your dog has up-to-date contact information in case he jumps out and runs away.
Invest in a good waterproof dog tag. And take along some poop bags, especially if you’re going for a more extended trip!
Kayaking with a dog can be great fun, whether the kayak is an inflatable or a hard shell.
As long as you take the appropriate safety precautions. There is no reason you can’t take a dog in an inflatable kayak, and these precautions apply to hard-shell kayaks too.
Getting your dog used to the kayak and yourself used to handling the additional weight/movement of having a canine passenger is key to safety for both of you.