Canoeing in the ocean? Towing your dog?

Now, this may sound like a dumb question, but please bear with me! Are canoes oceanworthy? Not for anything major, mostly fairly close to shore, between small islands that are close together, etc. I currently have a sit on top, and was really wanting to move into a closed kayak, but with an 80lb dog (Ridgeback/lab mix), and a new puppy next month (Ridgeback/Boxer mix), I just don’t think a kayak is going to cut it! However, I have seen pictures of people in kayaks towing their dog behind in some kind of inlfatable raft or something? I have looked at a couple of Wilderness Systems rec kayaks (can’t remember if it’s the Pungo or Pamlico I like better) and they have a large cockpit, which I think would fit me with one dog, (5’2", petite). I just don’t know! So, is a canoe safe in the ocean, or should I tow my dogs? Thanks!!!

Better Idea

– Last Updated: Mar-15-05 11:55 PM EST –

A large SOT will accomplish this better, but I wouldn't go open ocean this way. I used to crew on a boat that had 4 dogs on board, only one of which would piss on we ended up paddling ashore 3 times a day.

Better still?
A dog that size should be able to tow you!


I think …

– Last Updated: Mar-16-05 8:38 AM EST –

I think you should read the thread Lost Paddlers II, posted on March 14th. May give you an idea about some of the possible hazards associated with paddling canoes on the ocean, or a large open body of water. A large dog in a raft, or swimming while tied to your canoe sounds like a capsize waiting to happen to me. Your reaction to a capsized canoe, with a raft & large dog tied to it, out on the ocean, or a large open body of water would be what? Do you stay with the canoe, try to right the canoe, leave the canoe, try to swim to shore, leave the dog tied to the canoe, untie the raft/dog or what?
I also wonder what the dog may do to you; especially when it starts getting tired of swimming?
Sounds like a bad idea to me, but I always try to err on the side of safety.


Canoes can handle moderate wind & waves in skilled hands, but an 80+ pound dog or two in motion makes things much more exciting. I enjoy paddling with my dog but try to only take her where we could both easily swim to shore. There’s no really good way to get a big dog back into a canoe.

I would not advise anyone to take a canoe into the ocean with or without a dog

I’d second that. Especially someone whose skill level is beginner.

properly outfitted and designed canoes can be up to the challenge. the question is: are you? doesn’t sound like it, and i think the dog-in-tow idea is pretty scarry.

What about after a capsize?

Good to plan on knowing that without floatation, sponsons, etc, even in moderate let alone rough stuff, that most people cannot empty their canoe of water and get back in easily or at all. Make sure you know your ability and in the worst conditions. Otherwise then what!

thank you
I was hoping that I could do something else besides a sit on top, but I guess that’s not really much of an option then, unless I leave the dogs at home, but that’s just something I hate to do. Guess I’ll have to stick with the SOT. Puppy won’t be paddling with me for a while anyways since I don’t plan on buying her a million PFDs as she grows LOL. By the end of the summer she’ll be big enough for her PRD though I think. Thanks again.

I don’t know much about B.C.
But I have a sneaking suspicion that lengthy, unexpected swims there, at this time of year, could be less than pleasurable.

I think you made a wise decision.

As a follow up; would suggest you consider seeking out some instruction to help raise your skill level.

Take care,


Dogs can be freaky
Even really well trained, calm dogs can do unexpected things. They can have trigger points which may set them into a panic or irrational bevavior (the sight or scent of a deer, a bear, a beaver, a fish jumping, the sight of another dog in another boat, a loon popping up next to your canoe, a cold ass from sitting on the bottom of the boat, whatever, too many things that they need to get desensatized to). I wouldn’t take a dog out further than I care to swim, but my dogs are generally the least well behaved beasts in the neighborhood, and I will not assume the same for your pup. good luck.

Thank you for the suggestion.
I have been taking lessons, from one of my local shops. I don’t go out alone, and don’t go too far from shore. Always try to play it safe! Want to live to get to old age! :smiley:

I’m not a dog owner, although…
…my kids own about 10 among the 4 of them. I wonder if a vet could give you a mild sedative to keep your dogs more manageable? Another option is to leave them home-won’t hurt any of you, but paddling with them might.

Honest answers
Ok I’ve been doing this a long time so I’ll give the straight scoop. Do I take my canoe in the ocean? All the time, but it has floatation bags and extra foam floatation and a pump and a drogue and line and anchor. So I’m ready to take the canoe out and get back in through the surf.

Do I take my dog out in the ocean? No way! Never! Lakes, ponds, and mild rivers OK. Oceans and bays NOT OK! Remember you can’t train a dog to handle these conditions so take them to mild waters or leave them at home.