Dog kayak sidecar

How To Build A Dog Kayak Sidecar?

A dog is a human’s best friend, and dogs love nature! If you’re a watersport enthusiast and a dog owner, chances are you’ve thought about taking your dog on a kayaking trip.

Dogs and kayaks go together like dogs and water – that is to say, some do and some don’t. But if your dog loves water and you’re willing to put in the work, you won’t be alone on your next kayak ride!

Read on to find out how to build a dog kayak sidecar, the alternatives are, and what else to consider beforehand!


What Is A Dog Kayak Sidecar?

There are different ways to let a dog sit with you on your kayak and float alongside you. A dog sidecar is possibly the safest and most comfortable traveling option.

Before you go about choosing the type of setup you want, you need to decide which avenue to pursue — ready-made or self-built setups.

Kayak outriggers add a bit of stability to the situation — the more stable the kayak, the better for your dog. It’s important to note — while your pup may have better balance than you, cognitively, they can’t make sense of the situation as well as you can.

kayak platform for dogs

In addition to outriggers, there are several kayak enhancements to facilitate a journey with your dog:

  • Kayak dog seats
  • Kayak dog decks
  • Platforms for dogs
  • Towboats for dogs

These are easily accessible options that give your dog a dedicated spot to sit or stand more or less comfortably and enjoy the ride. This makes the journey safer and more relaxed for both you and your furry friend. Non-slip and water-resistant materials are therefore preferable.

Dog kayak sidecar options.

But among all these options, a proper sidecar is the coolest kayak extension you can offer your companion. It’s a space where your dog can comfortably sit, lie down, or even sleep without sliding off the kayak.

A DIY sidecar is easy and cheap to build. The best part is that you can customize it to fit your dog’s size and needs. You can even build a bigger model for more than one dog!

Multiple dogs on a kayak.

How To Build A Dog Kayak Sidecar

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to build a dog kayak platform out of wood:

Kayak with DIY dog platform.

Step 1: Build A base

It’s best to put a rectangular wooden frame as a base in the storage space or the second seat if your kayak has one. Make sure that the height is correct so that the frame is flush with the surface of the kayak.

Step 2: Plywood Platform

Cut a piece of plywood to fit on top of the frame. Any leftover or recycled piece of plywood will do, as long as it’s still in good condition.

Step 3: Crate Walls

Screw a second wooden frame onto the plywood around the sides of the platform to prevent your dog from slipping off the edges.

Step 4: Varnish / Paint

Treat the wood with waterproof varnish or paint to make it last longer. Remember that the platform will come into contact with water so if you skip this step, the wood will swell and crack — saltwater is particularly aggressive.

If you’re all about matching colors you can paint your deck so that it matches the color of your kayak!

Step 5: Padding

Cover the bottom of the platform with a non-slip mat cut to the right size. This makes the place much more comfortable for your dog, but also much safer.

If you want to see how to build this dog kayak sidecar, check out this video. 

Are Kayak Platforms For Dogs Safe?

Sit-on-top kayaks provide a larger platform in the front area for the dog to stand or lie on while you paddle. This option is similar to SUP and requires your dog to have certain skills such as good balance, calmness, and focus.

Birds on the shore or fish in the water could distract your pup and tempt him/her to jump into the water, so you need clear commands to keep your companion under control.

Attaching them to the kayak with a leash may be safe for them, but it could destabilize your kayak. The equipment or yourself could get soaked or even tangled in the leash. If you use a leash, keep it short.

You can use a paddle leash instead, like the Seattle Sports Multi Leash, which is specifically designed for kayaking applications. 

In any case, a non-slip standing grip mat is an absolute must. A wet platform is very slippery and your dog will be in the water as soon as they stand up.

dog kayak

Things To Consider When Kayaking With Dogs

  • If kayaking is completely new to your dog, they may not intuitively feel comfortable and behave properly. It’ll take some training and practice to get your dog used to the experience. You can start by introducing your dog to the kayak outside of the water, just in your backyard, and creating positive associations.
  • Swimming is another thing to think about. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, a life jacket is highly recommended, just as it is for us humans. Remember, safety first! Especially when you’re in rivers or deep lakes. Underwater growth and currents can lead to dangerous situations for even the most water-savvy four-legged friends.
  • Finally, consider what exactly you’re offering your dog here. For curious, excitable younger dogs, adventure can be good, while older and slower pets may enjoy the quiet, long hours of a kayak fishing trip.
  • The best advice would be not to overwhelm your pet, but also not expose them to something they find boring. That wouldn’t be fun for either of you.
kayak dog seat

Final Thoughts

Kayaking with your dog can be an enriching experience. To make sure everything goes smoothly, you need to prepare in advance.

Most kayaks are not fitted with a dog platform. However, building your own dog kayak sidecar is an adequate alternative. You can make it as big as you need it to be and equip it with all the comfort and safety features you want your pet to have.

In any case, make sure that the platform is attached correctly to the kayak without compromising its integrity. For example, if you drill holes directly into the hull, consider whether water could enter through those holes.

A lightweight built is essential because you will be adding your dog’s weight to the watercraft anyway. The more weight you carry, the more cumbersome the paddling will be.

Ultimately, though, kayaking with your dog is not about getting to your destination quickly and efficiently. It’s about spending quality time with a human’s best friend and sharing your favorite outdoor hobby.

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