dogs and canoe stabilizers

I have a 6 lb chihuahua, she is used to being outside near the water since I live on a creek so she is more of an outside dog than many dogs her size. I’d like to take her out on the water. I do have a life jacket for her. And I’ve read that you should tether the dog to you. Anyway, someone gave me a old large aluminum canoe (I don’t know the brand, it says Sears on the side) and I’ve been looking at the canoe stabilizers and wonder if that might be a good idea. The real problem is the occasional idiot that goes flying by in a power boat. One time last summer, a boat was going so fast it was like a wave coming over my bulkhead. Then I heard a crash and saw flames. He hit my neighbor’s (docked) boat. Mostly there are just small fishing boats, canoes, kayaks and pontoon boats. But it only takes one.

Your Sears must be very stable.
Canoe stabilizers are a negative in almost every way except for their ultimate stability. I think that power boaters, seeing the obvious stabilizers, may actually decide not to slow down some. So you have something that makes the canoe harder to paddle, harder to turn, harder to land in some situations, and harder to carry and load. And you gain stability that the rest of us find we never needed.

We started our little kids in a tippy canoe, on easy whitewater, and everyone was fine. Your little dog will be fine and so will you.

Big Canoe and Small Dog

– Last Updated: Mar-20-11 1:35 PM EST –

It is not easy to paddle a big aluminum canoe solo, but in this case the price was right. Usually, the best way to paddle a canoe that size, if it's symmetrical (and aluminum canoes are) is to sit in the bow seat facing backward, so that the back of the boat becomes the front. If you look at the locations of the seats, you will see that doing so will put your weight closer to the center of the boat, instead of crammed into one end. The problem is that aluminum canoes usually have a thwart behind the front seat, making it impossible to sit backward there. If you paddle solo from the stern seat, you will need a lot of weight up front as a counterweight (a couple of 5-gallon pails full of water might be enough, but use pails with lids). Otherwise the canoe will be very squirrely and tippy. Another option is to install a third seat near the center. Of course if you paddle with a partner, no problem.

Regarding the stabilizers, they really don't get much recommendation on a site like this. Aluminum canoes are usually flat-bottomed and quite stable, but the flat bottom makes them rock badly and be more prone to tipping than a rounder-bottomed boat if big waves hit from the side. In the case of boat wakes, usually there's plenty of time to turn the boat to aim into the waves before they hit you. You should probably try out the boat before getting stabilizers. Once you get used to it, you will probably decide you don't need them. Also, as you get used to paddling the canoe, the boat wakes will start to look smaller and smaller.

I vote no…
I vote NO on stabilizers for the same reasons “already stated” by previous posters.

I also vote NO on tethering the dog to you, or to the canoe.

That offers the possibility of entanglement problems for you & the dog if your canoe capsizes. If the dog is as light as you say it is, and is wearing a pfd; it’ definitely going to float, and will likely stay close to you. So the point of a tether would be what?


It might be possible to put the small
dog in a running wheel connected to a side-wheeler arrangement.

Some people attract trouble
please stay away from the water. TV is fun.

dogs and canoes
Ok, what I’m hearing is that this might not be a good canoe for me and the dog alone. And if the stabilizer is not a good idea, maybe get a smaller more manageable canoe for when I am alone. It’s pretty remote here and I don’t know that anyone would notice if I tipped. I want to be able to handle that situation on my own. I was dumped into the Delaware River once by overly rambunctious teenage boys, come to think of it, it might have been in the canoe my brother just gave me. haha. Tethering the dog to me seemed like it would mean one less thing to worry about, that is her floating away while I try to deal with the canoe.

I’ll have to research the most stable canoe for 1 medium sized woman and one small dog. Hopefully, lightweight too.

She nixed the wheel power idea. She’s thinking more along the lines of a dog bed with a bimini.


– Last Updated: Mar-21-11 10:52 AM EST –

If the dog entangles itself on a seat or thwart, and you capsize; your weight shift could easily pull forcefully on the tether, and possibly injure, or kill such a small dog.


Your dog is a negligible size
should wear a PFD and not be tethered to you. Moreover she should be trained not to jump out.Where you have read that your dog should be tied to you is beyond me…no one here.

A large aluminum canoe is a sail with no weight in it.

I suggest taking lessons in paddling…and getting an appropriate sized solo.

Its a time honored tradition around here that people seek untippy boats. But neglect that other part of the equation…the paddler and paddling skills.

How is your self rescue…can you turn the boat exactly where you want…can you go straight in following and headwinds…do you know how to ride out wakes? and much more.

Its not all about the boat. It’s more about the paddler.

Please lisen to the above post,s They are Spot on.

Do not teather dog! Try to not go alone untill you have learned to paddle.

I paddle with my Yellow Lab. It can be rewarding, But it is always another thing to keep track of.

I have been canoeing
mostly on the Delaware river up in the poconos and NY. But never solo and never with a dog. I’m really mostly concerned about the dog. Now that I am an empty nester and don’t have a bunch of kids in the water with me, I need something to worry about. The dog won’t jump out. Also she is trained to stop what she is doing and lay down on command. I’m probably just over worrying.

A kayaking forum recommends tethering the dog to you.

Bad forum, size of dog
I don’t know what forum came up with that one. As above, get a PFD for the dog and learn to paddle an appropriate craft that allows you to better maneuver out of harm’s way.

At the size of your dog though, I am not sure that taking her into anything but extremely safe and predictable water is a good idea until you are better able to manage your craft. Even with a PFD, just one gunwale hitting on the way over in a capsize could be fatal. And if you capsize in a big wake a spot of color that small could be tough to spot before the dog had paddled out into harm’s way. Something bigger, one of the water dogs, has a better chance in those situations.

If you are going to take her in the boat, get into the water with you both in your PFD’s and practice, swimming, to have her come to your call. Something that small in an environment that big may not always be able to even see you across the water, let alone stay calm enough to figure this out on their own.

I join in your concerns
She might just be too small to safely take out on the water in a canoe. There is very little boat traffic here, otherwise I probably wouldn’t even consider it.

I do like the idea of practicing
I actually used to do that with my kids before taking them canoeing/rafting.

Just Do It
Too much worrying going on here.

A PFD for you and your dog are great ideas. Stablizers and dog tethers not so great.

Start out on calm days when the water is warm and traffic is light. I like early mornings.

Stay close to shore to start. Get a little more experience. Build up your skills. See how it feels. If it feels safe stretch out a little. Idealy canoeing is a wet sport.

Maybe you will decide that the boat is too big or the dog is too small or your skills need help or the power traffic is intolerable. Those can be changed.

Maybe you will decide that everything is fine.

just doing it
Yeah, I was actually thinking about this last night. It’s one thing to be safe and another to not do anything because you are afraid of all the things that might happen. The dog and I could be safe in the house but what fun is that? Or I could leave her home and go alone but that would be less fun for us both.

Anyway, the one time the dog actually almost died was in the house, she hung herself on the handle of a collapsible mesh hamper. I had to cut it off of her neck. So I could leave her home while I go canoeing and she could hang herself.

Dogs and canoes
I have canoe floats for when I go fishing with my dog. They’re nice to have for when I am trying to land a fish; I don’t have to worry as much about what the dog is doing, incoming waves, etc. I don’t keep mine lowered to the water, so they don’t effect the canoe’s handling.

Your dog is so small that I doubt she could tip a canoe. But since she is so small, I would look at a better boat for the two of you. Maybe a small canoe like the Old Town Pack, or a rec kayak with a large cockpit. Both are very affordable options, and I think you’d prefer either over the large alum canoe.

Have fun and be safe!

Old Town Pack
I was just looking at this canoe online and I agree it is a good match for what I am looking to do. Maybe I should get the floats and use them sort of like training wheels, get to know my way around and if I feel more comfortable, take them off.

and some people are asses

old town pack angler
looks like it even has a spot for my dog