How to train dog to ride in canoe

I have a new Labheeler. Yes a weird mix. Buddy is a rescue from a southern state puppy mill raided by animal control He is 46 lbs and shy and skittish though bouncy at times when there is a treat. He never had human contact via petting for the first year of life. His foster family did make great strides and now that Buddy is with us his forever family. He is 18 months old and the sweetest dog. Not aggressive. But very cautious of new things…( In his situation how could anything be different), According to what I have read he ought to be great in the water. But I would like him to be confident enough to ride in a canoe without putting us all in the water. So far he has great interest in things that move… Like birds squirrels etc…

How did you get your pup accustomed to being a canoe dog? FYI we have ice on the lake and snow on the ground so water training is not going to happen till May.

A flat coat retriever is first a water dog so we had little trouble getting him to the water . You might work on getting it used to water.

We have a vid on getting dog into boat. We are at an area of low connectivity. Will post later. Basically get dog in the habit of getting into canoe on command while canoe is on dry land.

Two suggestions that have been important in our training: 1) Lots of work getting in and out of the canoe on dry land AWAY from the water. Don’t be tempted to do some training on the shore and then hop in the canoe thinking you’re all set! 2) From the first dry land training session, have two or three rubber bath mats in the canoe (where you want your dog to be) so that the dog is able to gain traction. It is best if you keep the dogs nails well trimmed, as this helps the traction issue, too. Be patient. Good canoe training isn’t (at least at first) about the water; instead, it is about the canoe/dog interaction and your ability to train your dog on the commands necessary once you are on the water. Great luck!

Our rescue pack member fits closely to the pictures & description of a Carolina Dog. We so far have backed off from canoe training even though she is mostly sweet & gentle as she has a STRONG prey drive. Ducks might be a problem and OMG … SQUIRRELS …

Well I admit we have a big squirrel problem at home…And I encourage the dog to chase them… This could be a problem in the boat… Our squirrels do swim… They are alleged to have swim teams among the various lakes here…
But If I could get the dog mellow and down in the boat…
Pipe dream probably… I really do not want him chasing loons ( and we have quite a few here of the avian variety)

The Carolina Dog ( American Dingo) has a lot in common with our dog.

Sounds like your advice on dry land training is all spot on! Here is Buddy!

Sounds like a cool dog. Reina, the alleged water dog, didn’t like water above her knees, but loved riding in the canoe.

First see how he bonds and trust you in more regular routine things. It can take years for dogs to get over mill life.

Two years still afraid of me. Slow progress very slow. Doesn’t like men & low voices. Is bonded to Edith but still hard for her to hold her for more than 30-45 seconds. Tails wagging even though she’s barking at me when I’m up walking around. Five years in a mill. Does love to eat.

aww a cutie… Buddy bounded with joy at 6:30 AM bounce bounce bounce… And came to me… Five years is a long time to try to undo PD52… You are very patient!

## Heheh, Kim, some of your Maine swim-team squirrels must have escaped because we have a few here too (LOL)?

## I concur with getting a dog familiar with a canoe on land with a nice, large foam pad inside and out to get them used to it. That said, I had a Lab that would STILL bail if he saw an interesting canine on land. And sometimes my rat terrier likes to vacate the premises for a swim, so even a well trained canine may be tempted so be prepared…

I had a Rottie/Lab mix that was a great canoe dog. She was quite a swimmer and adapted to canoe paddlin’ quickly. When we’d see wildlife I’d caution her against verbally and she generally stayed put.

And then there was that day we were just drifting the calm and I was busy taking pictures. I didn’t notice the muskrat swim near the boat but Gizmo could not resist that one :wink: Out she went and over I went. She thought it was a great adventure and I went shopping for a new camera :slight_smile:

When I’m breaking in a new dog I start with the dry land familiarization as others mention. I add one of my packable water dishes that the dog has used to offer familiarity. Spend a little time in the boat with the dog doing that quality time thing to make it an enjoyable experience for the pooch. We’re getting the dog used to entering and exiting the boat as well as understanding that it should not do so without your permission.

Water trials are at a small protected pond with some extended shallow shorelines. Boat and paddler are prepared appropriately for swimming. We get in and just sit there for a while, I have a snack and the dog gets a few treats while we contemplate the natural world. When we go mobile I keep the dog close to me for the first few sessions. Paddle the shoreline slowly and practice landing and ingress/egress. I can physically contact the dog when a duck or other distraction is seen and keep him/her under control. The physical contact and verbal communication will give the dog some boundaries.

Once the dog seems to be comfortable and controllable, I move the pooch farther forward to the position he/she will be occupying. We then paddle around the shoreline looking for distractions and dealing with them as they present themselves.

The progression is, of course, incredibly varied depending upon the dog. Some seem to be natural paddlin’ partners while others spend much longer in paddling school. The dog needs to enjoy the canoe time but understand and accept some restraint of its canine nature.

Best of luck to you and your new family member.

We don’t see Squirrels much in the yard these days. One made a mistake a while back. It thought it could jump up into a crotch of the maple tree in the back yard. Nope - 5’ off the ground was no challenge for Tilley.

I’ve spent many years paddling both flatwater and whitewater with dogs in canoes. There’s been a lot of good advice here, and I agree that a dry land introduction is the best. I’m a firm believer in dog PFDs, and for some dogs that may take a while for them to get used to, and there’s no better place than your backyard or living room, a place where they feel comfortable. Yes, dogs can be excellent swimmers, but nothing beats that PFD handle for lifting them up. We would slowly progress to sitting in the canoe in the backyard together (PFDs on), and I’d eventually rock it back and forth some, while reassuring and giving treats.

As previously mentioned, a rubber mat of some kind works great to help with their traction. I would use an old yoga mat, which seemed to grip well to the bottom of the canoe. Preliminary trips were always on flatwater, and short and FUN, with lots of stopping for play and treats. If you have access to different boats (borrow if you need) I would urge you get them out in them. You might paddle a composite boat, but if something unfortunate happens and your dogs needs to go in an aluminum or royalex/plastic boat, you don’t want them trying to get used to something new in an emergency situation. On long multi-boat float trips, I will try to put my dog in someone else’s boat for a bit.

Progressing to whitewater took a little longer, but I never once had to force my dog get in the canoe. I would shorten the rear float bag and he would sit tucked in behind me. The hardest part of the whitewater paddling was to try to minimize his movements. At 55 pounds, when he decided to shift from one side to the other it made a rather noticeable change in balance. He would sit most of the time, with his head looking out my offside. When sitting, he actually added some ballast, but all maneuvering was a little slower because of the added weight.

We paddled many years and hundreds miles of flatwater and Class III and IV this way, including many, many trips down the Gunnison Gorge (I was a River Ranger). My paddling partner made several magazine and news articles over the years, but best of all he was a great conversation starter and I got to take my dog to work with me!

Ptickner: I think you get the “Canoeing with a dog” trophy :slight_smile: Impressive history you and your pooch have.

Thanks to all. I have been canoeing since 1963 and some years over a hundred days a year. And have had dogs since 1973. Some were good boat dogs except the last. A 12 year old Lab that hated water. She came to us as a rescue and we did not push it as she was stubborn and painfully arthritic Our Golden and Border Collies did fine except the Golden required a certain thwart height for her head or she would hang out over the gunwales and switch gunwales… Noise made her stand… rapids were ergo more exciting for us too. It took us a long time to realize she would only lay down if she could snuggle with one of us. Paired Solo was interesting as she would bark if one was out of sight and also pace… ( No where else was she plagued by separation anxiety!), If we paddled together each in a solo once in a blue moon she would try to switch boats. I think we humans don’t have the faintest idea what goes on in the goofy Golden brain.

This one is very skittish. It took a week to get it to come to get leashed for out of the house excursions. It will take time for Buddy to build trust and dry land training is certainly the least threatening… Buddy may or may not be a water dog…

We have plenty of canoes and a couple of kayaks. The dog and the Greenland kayaks will never meet.