Canoeing with a dog

Going to do a river float for a couple of months this summer and I want to bring Heather. Anyone have any experience with their dogs going with them? Any any experiences, whether good or bad, stories or tips would be appreciated. Thanks.

If I go then the dog goes

– Last Updated: Apr-14-08 4:51 AM EST –

I always bring "Gator Dog" when I paddle. We haven't done any month long trips yet but we have done several overnighters and he loves to camp and canoe. I always make sure to take breaks to let him run or dig or whatever (he jumped on a small gator in Florida). Just keep an eye out for larger predators. It would probably be a good idea to take your dog on a short trip of several days and see how she takes to all aspects of boating/camping before committing to such a long trip. Good luck!

I always take my dogs if allowed.
Get a PFD for the dog since it makes it easier to lift it into the boat. Train it to sit between your legs where you can control it. My wife sits with one in the bow and I have another in the stern. We just got a third dog so that’s going to be a problem. Do a few practice runs before attempting anything too serious. Once they figure out it’ll be fun they want to go even if they’re not water dogs.

Get a dog PFD and put a
bath mat or pad on the deck so the dog won’t have to sit on a damp deck…

I am not a fan of the dog pfds

– Last Updated: Apr-17-08 1:19 PM EST –

i will not put my dog in one, no need to. she is a great swimmer - she is a lab mix. what i do not like about the dog pfds are alot of them seem to have a handle to pull the dog from the water or other dangerous loops. why put you dog at risk of having the pfd get snagged on a river strainer. i do use an old sleeping pad, that i lay in the boat for her to sit on to get a better grip on when she moves around.

RockC the paddlin dog
Has been on most every overnite trip I’ve taken since she came home from the pound a year and a half ago. She’s a 40# lab mix. Been canoeing/ overniting since she was 12 weeks old. She has a closed cell foam pad to sit/ lay on. She learned “in the boat/ outta the boat” from the beginning. No pfd for her. Don’t want it getting hung up in a strainer and she’s a very strong swimmer. Good manners around other folks is the most important dog matter. RockC is great in the boat, but is obsessed with retrieve play. I have to tie her while we make camp cause she thinks all the firewood we gather is for her. I love paddling and camping with her but I always realize that there will be folks in the group that don’t want to be “bothered” by my dog.

PFDs for dogs
I’ll second the recommendation of the PFD if you are doing a lot of paddling with your dog. Mine is a German Short Haired Pointer, she routinely swims from our island cottage across to the mainland to take herself for a run. (There’s a picture of her here: )The point there is that she swims well, just like lots of people swim well.

The time I was really glad she had her PFD on was a Petawawa trip. We had portaged the gear and had run 2 of the 3 canoes down a class II rapid and come back for the 3rd canoe. As we set up at the start of the Grillade rapid (approx. 400 meters) Brownie realized there was no one left at the start of the portage with her and panicked (sp?) thinking she was being left behind. So as we start down the rapid, she starts swimming out to us. She ended up swimming about half the rapid before making it to shore. The PFD definitely helped her on that swim.

Dogs in canoes
Lying in the bottom of a canoe in the sun can be hot, so watch for signs of overheating.

Allow running time on shore. Most dogs can’t sit all day unless they get an opportunity to burn off some energy.

I haven’t found a good way to get a large dog back into a canoe other than going to shore.

Some sort of rug or mat for traction is good.

I had two female german sheperds…

– Last Updated: Aug-25-09 5:15 AM EST –

(Liebchen and Gretchen) litter sisters, tipping the scales at just over 100# each, and were trained (by me) how to act in my canoe, including being gator alarms (in FL you either train them how to behave around water or they'll end up being a gourmet gator meal real quick). They knew once they were in the canoe they were allowed two positions: sitting and laying down. They were allowed to do either but only in the same spot. The only time they were allowed to stand was when I told them. Because of their discipline I could take them to places I wouldn't take any other dog. I also worked with their hunting instincts and could get them to flush rabbit, squirrel, deer, or prowling humans in my direction so I could dispatch them in any manner I saw fit, real quick. They only lived for thirteen years but they got to go places, see things, (and eat fresh game) in Florida very few humans do. Islands, keys, bays, rivers, creeks, swamps and springs, always watching my back for gators when I was in the water.
The only drawback with them were my daughters' whims overruled any command I gave them. I couldn't raise my voice to my girls without the "bitches" immediately getting between us and both of them giving me a low growl with whines to let me know they love me but the girls had top priority and I was about to cross a line. Needless to say, I never pressed the issue...

dogs and canoes
We have two small dogs, a pomeranian and a papillion. They go with us all the time. The first few minutes they are all excited and jump around, but after a while they calm down and actually curl up and go to sleep while we paddle. We water them and feed them snacks while enroute. So far, they have managed to hold their bladders as long as we do. They don’t seem too concerned about wildlife and no longer bark at waterfowl. The deer on the shore still draw some growls, though.

We have a small collapsible shade tarp for them, called a ‘Pup Tent’ that just fits snugly between the thwart and yoke. They do get hot in their PFDs, so the shade is nice for them.

only when alone
Dogs are for companionship. Your companionship. Please do not mistake and think everyone loves your companion as you do. Leave your wet stinking shaking jumping dog at home when paddling with company. They may not say so, but they really appreciate not having to deal with a too friendly dog that might upset yours or their canoe. Just a thought.

years ago
I was paddling the St Croix River in eastern Maine with a couple who brought their golden retriever. The dog rode in the bow of my canoe which I was paddling solo—the only sigficant rapid on the part of the trip we were doing was Big Falls—a class II±III drop, depending on the water level—I went down through the rapid SAS with no problems–there was a group of people from Massachusettes who where portaging around the falls. We passed them again the next day and I heard one of them say to his buddy “There’s the guy who shot the falls with his dog” in hushed tones—probably still singing songs about it in Boston bars—:slight_smile:

Running Rapids with Dogs
Yeah, my dog has run a few rapids with me too. She’s usually stretched out across a couple of packs soaking up the sun as we start down. You should see the dirty looks I get as she’s shaking off the water from the first standing wave.

Of course that isn’t any worse than the dirty looks she gives me when I’m packing up the truck and leaving her home.

Have the dog paddle stern.
Then you won’t have to look at her.

Just make sure the dog(especially if it is a large dog)is well behaved/trained. A large dog can swamp a canoe in a second. A small dog is much easier to control. We started taking our 40lb Corgi (great swimmer beleive it or not)when he was about a year old. He is a trooper in the boat but perks up and moves around when we get next to shore. I have seen dogs swim after canoes and almost swamp them. I have seen dogs chase wildlife (there was an incident where two Goldens cornered a porcupine and both got quils in the face and so had to be treated). Alot of people are affraid of dogs so be aware. So…they can add alot to a trip but they can also create alot of problems.

Yes, and some of us, while not afraid
(I recently drove off a doberman) are not interested in being snuffled over by every loose, wet pooch we encounter along the river.

baby porcupines

did you know that baby porcupines are just a little bit bigger than a tennis ball? Just the perfect size to try and pick up - twice!

The good news is that she hasn’t bothered with a porcupine since. Maybe there are some brain cells in there somewhere. :wink:

If you are going south, just be aware that dogs as big as labs ann rottweillers are routinely taken by gators. A smaller dog would be even more vulnerable.

Depends on the dog
Just make sure and do some practice trips of a few days to see if you really want a dog along for all that time. I had a Husky Mix that was super-no barking, loved to sit on the bow like the king. During the same time, I had a Dachshund that rode well in the canoe until we saw…well, almost anything. Then, she would bark her little head off and don’t even talk about in the tent! She did not go canoeing again. : )

getting a dog back in a boat

I use a greenland paddle, which I sit on when in a sit on top. The other end acts as an outrigger. Should work in a canoe as well, although I would try it first before depending on it. Greenland paddles, by the way, are nice in a canoe.