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Paddleboarding and Kayaking with Your Pup: Tips from Coontail

Matthew Betka

Posted on May 29 2024

Canoeing, paddle boarding, and kayaking safely with your dog in the Northwoods of Wisconsin

Paddleboarding and Kayaking with Your Pup: Tips from Coontail


At Coontail, we understand that for many outdoor enthusiasts, their furry companions are part of the adventure. Whether you're hitting the water on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or gliding through the waves in a kayak, bringing your dog along can add an extra layer of fun and companionship to your outdoor excursions. But, getting your pup safely onto your watercraft and ensuring a smooth ride requires some preparation and know-how. In this blog post, we'll share tips on how to load your dog onto an SUP or kayak from personal experience, and provide advice for a successful paddling experience with your four-legged friend.

Choose the Right Watercraft:

  1. Before you embark on your paddling adventure with your dog, it's essential to select the appropriate watercraft. Both SUPs and kayaks can accommodate dogs, but your choice will depend on factors such as your dog's size, temperament, and your personal preference.
  • Stand-up Paddleboard (SUP): SUPs offer a stable platform for paddling with your dog and allow them to move around more freely. They are ideal for calm waters and well-behaved dogs who are comfortable with balancing on a board.
  • Kayak: Kayaks provide a more enclosed space for your dog, which can be reassuring for nervous pups. They are suitable for paddlers who prefer sitting lower to the water and navigating through various conditions.

Practice Loading and Unloading:

  1. Before heading out onto the water, spend some time practicing loading and unloading your dog onto your chosen watercraft. Start on dry land or in shallow water to familiarize your pup with the process. Use treats and positive reinforcement to make the experience enjoyable for them.
  • SUP: To load your dog onto an SUP, position the board parallel to the shore and stable. Lift your dog onto the board gently, either from the rear or the side. Encourage them to sit or lie down in a comfortable spot near the center of the board to maintain balance.
  • Kayak: Loading a dog onto a kayak can be trickier due to the confined space. If your kayak has a large cockpit or open deck, lift your dog into the kayak from the shore or a dock. This may take some practice! 

Ensure Safety:

  1. Safety should always be a top priority when paddling with your dog. Take the necessary precautions to protect both you and your furry companion while on the water.
  • Life Jacket: Invest in a well-fitting life jacket for your dog, even if they are a strong swimmer. This will provide extra buoyancy and visibility in case of an emergency. We absolutely love Ruffwear here at Coontail, and sell it at both store locations. They have everything you need for your four legged companion to join you on any adventure.
  • Secure Leash: Attach a leash to your dog's harness or life jacket and secure it to the watercraft to prevent them from jumping off unexpectedly. Opt for a leash with a quick-release mechanism for easy detachment if needed.

Practice Good Paddling Etiquette:

  1. When paddling with your dog, be mindful of other water users and wildlife. Follow these etiquette tips to ensure a pleasant experience for everyone:
  • Respect Wildlife: Keep a safe distance from wildlife and nesting areas to avoid disturbance. Be mindful of any regulations regarding wildlife protection in your paddling area.
  • Yield to Others: Yield to other paddlers, boaters, or swimmers on the water. Maintain control of your dog and avoid interfering with other watercraft.
  • Clean Up: Bring waste bags to clean up after your dog and dispose of waste properly. Leave no trace behind to help preserve the beauty of our waterways.


Paddling with your dog can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but it requires careful planning and preparation. By selecting the right watercraft, practicing loading and unloading techniques, ensuring safety, and practicing good paddling etiquette, you can create lasting memories with your furry companion on the water. We're here to help you gear up for your next adventure with your pup. Happy paddling!

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