BWCA with my dog

I’m considering taking my 2 year old lab to the BWCA this summer.

What are the pro’s and con’s of taking a dog along on a wilderness canoe trip?

Are there any books or other resources availible regarding this kind of tripping?

From the FAQ page…

– Last Updated: Mar-21-06 7:59 AM EST –

I've never been to BWCA, but I did just find this little bit of information:

"Are dogs allowed in the BWCA and Quetico Park? If so, what regulations must I follow?"

"Yes, dogs are allowed in the BWCA and Quetico Park. In the Quetico Park you must carry certification of a rabies vacination within the last year. Dogs must be kept on a leash when portaging in the BWCA, and in the Quetico park, they must always be on a leash. The Forest Service insists you keep you dog under control. And you must clean up after your dog around campsites and portages."

One other general purpose thing to think about...

In places where there are likely to be many wild animals, it can sometimes be quite a distraction for family pets...or even dangerous in some circumstances (for both the pets and the humans with them). For instance, here in WA, we have many bears and cougars, and in some places, either the forest service or the National Parks recommend not taking small animals into the woods. Just something to think about, I guess.


Dog in BW
I haven’t taken a dog into the BWCA but know folks that have done it. Mostly good results but I also know of a tragedy. If the dog sticks tight to you, you should have a good experience. If the dog has a tendency to wander, think twice before you bring it. Dogs can get lost in unfamilar places and there is a lot of woods in the BWCA. And then you sit calling and waiting and waiting for days. There is also danger for a dog in the BWCA. Wolves will hunt down a dog if given an opportunity. I personnally would appreciate a little heads up of an approaching dog from behind on a portage trail. With a pack and a canoe, you can’t turn around to see what kind of 4 footer critter is behind you. A bear? Maybe a small bell on the collar would announce - friend approaching.

my dog.
i’ve been bring my dog into Quetico for 15 years and enjoy the experience all the more for having him with me.

in general, be sensible, be curteous of others, control your dog … basically if he’s a good camper and citizen you’ll both be fine. if he’s a pain in the butt, e.g. barks at strangers, barks at night, barks at other animals, leave him home.

be prepared
this is more for your dog than advice for the trip make sure your dog has flea and tick protection also mesquito protection they cause

heartworm which can be deadly. Also make sure you have a pfd for your dog and plenty of water

they make some great packable bowls for dogs now there are a lot of hazards out there

sorry to lecture but I work for a vet and I have seen animal attacks and I have watched dogs die from snake bite and it is very hard

take your dog with you but just be very careful

also know where they are at all times

You hit the nail on the head
I’d add, does he canoe? You don’t want him nervous and squirmy in the canoe.

Does he camp? The BW probably isn’t a good first camping experience for a person, even if he’s a dig.

Remember you need to have him under control, either voice or leash, at all times. You will see other people and not all people like dogs. Some are down right afraid of them. I’ve heard tales of dogs running on a portage ahead of their master and scaring the bejeezes out of someone because at first they thought it was a bear or a wolf.

But as liv2padl says, if it is a well behaved dog, that is a good citizen (and canoes and camps) – have a great time.

BTW - I have a golden that I love dearly, but she stays home. #1 - she’s not good in a canoe; #2 - related to #1, she loves the water. She will jump in from the canoe or from shore. Wet dog. Yuck.

Oh! Also get him a dog pfd and a bed of some kind.

only one thing to worry about
I have never taken a dog on a trip. I know others have with great success and there have been tragedies. I would not worry about wolves or bears. Porcupines are the greatest threat to a dog. I face full of barbed quills will cause a dog so much pain and torment. The only relief is to be put under by a vet and have the quills removed leaving nasty infected puncture wounds. You will be far from veterinary care.

I usually find most dogs I meet on portages to be friendly and well behaved. Inspite of the rules, most people don’t keep their dogs on a leash. I did have one incident when a dog came down the portage ahead of its people and peed on my pack sitting on the ground next to me. I pushed the dog away with my foot, did not kick him, though I was plenty pissed off. The owners with full knowledge of what their dog did lit into me for kicking their dog. I had a long portage ahead and did not wish to waste energy on a fight, but sometimes wish that I had left them bloody on the shore.

Dogs in wilderness = Rude
Personally I think those who feel the urge to “bond with Fido” by bringing along their pooch on a canoe camping trip should give a LOT more consideration to campers who are there to enjoy nature. Bringing a dog on such a trip is about as insensitive to others as one can get – perhaps a half a notch below a loud radio. Please be considerate of others when you make your plans, leave your pooch at home or at a kennel.

Owner’s responsibility
I guess I can see where you are coming from.

I think dog lovers have a responsibility to make sure they give themselves a good name. I feel only an exceptionally well behaved dog should be brought along and all attention should go towards making sure that dog is not bothering flora, fauna or humans. No matter how well behaved a dog is bring a leash and a good strong tie out. Make sure that others want to be visited by your pup before he greets them. And barking? Forget it, a barking dog has no place in a camp.

…cordially, mind you :-).

But it seems that there are many campgrounds and parks that don’t allow pets, and many that do. That is certainly the case here in MD. I certainly don’t think it is inconsiderate to take a dog into a park or camping area that allows dogs… but obviously it would be very inconsiderate (and illegal) to take a dog into a no pets allowed area.

Given that, it might be a little unrealistic to go into a wilderness area that allows pets and expect people to not bring them because you don’t want them to be there.

An extended wilderness trip in a new area is not the place to teach your dog about camping. I know how nice it is to explore new things with a four-legged buddy, but being a responsible dog owner requires a lot of attention. And if your 2-year-old Lab is anything like mine was, peace and quiet are not high on his priority list.

Take him on day trips and overnights close to home, but save the extended trips together until he’s more mature and you’re more experienced.

Normally I agree with you Arkay
but being a dog owner with a long history of canine attended wilderness trips, your statement uses a broad brush to paint all dogs the same way. I have six weeklong trips in the BW along with any number of 2 to 4 day river and lake trips (not to mention all the Raystown and Summersville get togethers) and my dogs have received nothing but compliments from everyone we have passed and my trip mates.

Do others take ill behaved dogs with them that are better left at home? The minority in my experience yes. Just like there are fishermen that fish in front of my camp at daybreak making enough noise to wake the dead. Or the boyscout trip with exuberant youths that holler with delight across the lake. Or the first timers that don’t quite have it together and present a virtual garage sale at each portage. Should the fishermen, boyscouts, and first timers be banned from wilderness (or weekend excursions) just because they may impact on my personal idea of getting away? No, these are all minority examples of the much larger population.

Bottom line is all the aforementioned are legal (in the BW and other “wilderness” situations I have encountered) so those who don’t like dogs, fishermen, boyscouts, and first timers have three choices; deal with it, change the law, or find someplace that fits your personal ideal. And if you do come across the minority situation you can deal with it then and there or report it to the authorities. I know the BW rangers take their duty fairly seriously.

Randy (the other Randall)

Too broad a brush
I over generalized regarding dogs on wilderness trips. I should cut responsible dog owners some slack. Some people possess the knowledge and skill to be able to control their pets and the courtesy and wisdom to follow applicable/sensible rules. From what I’ve seen unfortunately others do not. I think pet owners should give these potential problems due consideration - as the poster of this thread is wisely doing. Randall - the other Randy – ;^)

And so it is
that two contesting parties on PNet can come to an agreement. Nice to have a rational disagreement isn’t it. And to clarify - I agree with you. To often that cute little mommy’s dog (that happens to be a 100 pound rotweiler) is running loose scaring the hell out of even the staunchest dog’s rights supporter. Just ask Wes about the free steak dinner we got because of our encounter. :>)

Any chance you can make Pymatuning in two weekends?


Says You! ;^)
Pymatoning in two weekends…… Hmmmmm…. I’ve been busy & out of town for a while and haven’t been patrolling the “Get Together” forum lately. The gathering would be as per Wes’ “Couple of Possibilities” thread? If so it sounds like fun & thanks for the invite Randy. I’ll check my calendar and try to bake a plan. ;^) RK

Jogging leashes and wilderness dogs

Although I do let my dogs off lead when no one is around, I train them to come to me if they see someone. I then praise them and attach the leash.

An option to think about for portaging is a hands-free lead. Many of these have a bungee or “fishing reel” design that keeps the dog close while allowing it to move.

These work great if you’re trying to move things and manage a dog at the same time:

As far as dogs in the wilderness, they have been a part of human explorations for time immemorial. It’s not a modern day fad to have a canine on the trail.

If you look back at the histories of breeds of American development, many have been here since our ancestors got off the boat and got the yen to build a cabin.

The feists from which today’s Rat and Toy Fox Terriers were derived were carried through the Cumberland Gap in saddle bags.

Even these small terriers played a key role in Early American survival on the frontier. Dogs have an eons-long tradition of learning to work in teams with humans in such circumstances.

Because of the congestion in modern parks and rec areas, there is now a greater responsibility to train and condition our dogs before taking them into the woods.

We can’t just go in with a “dogs will be dogs” attitude, because the basic nature of dog is honestly that of a nearly feral animal.

They only learn new default behaviors that are conducive to life with humans if we teach them.

This means learning and lifelong practice of basic control commands, such as Heel, Come, Down, Sit, Steady.

I practice these commands with food from the dog’s own daily meals. Just a few minutes a day, but knowing where one’s meals are coming from…and working for it…does much to promote a sense of who is really the leader.

No jerking, scowling or pushing around is needed.

And, if you know anything about wolf behavior, being the acknowledged leader is the Ace when it comes to getting a quick response in stressful or uncertain circumstances.

As a dog agility trainer, my dogs keep track of my eye movements as we run for cues as to which direction we will go. This is close to the way members of wolf packs receive direction at a distance from their alpha.

I teach the command “Leash On” so the dog knows and expects what will happen next, so he isn’t startled or spooked by “grabbing.”

It gives him a chance to opt to come to me safely, which usually he will do, if only out of habit and a memory of offered food and praise.

There are many places I would not take my own dogs, because they are small and would be considered to be potential prey by even moderately sized predators.

(I keep my small Papillon on lead in even relatively civil open areas because he so often attracts the attention of leering hawks and even Eagles. In fact, there is probably no better way getting to know raptors nose to beak than walking the countryside with a toy dog.)

But no matter where I take them, it is nice to have dogs that know the “rules of the road” and that follow them without needing a lot of direction.

It’s not easy and it takes patience and consistency, but it’s an investment that pays off.