Paddling with Dogs

There have been several threads on dogs so I thought I would add another one. Half a year ago, I traded a farmer thirty chickens that I hatched for one of his puppies. A beagle from another farm visited his boston terrier so we both made out in the trade as the mutts needed good homes.

The crux of the thread is that I am asking for advice on how to get my dog used to being in a canoe / kayak. Does anyone have any tips / advice on getting your best friend used to the paddling world. Walter is a pretty decent swimmer and does not have any issues riding around in a 20 foot powerboat. I want him to be able to be comfortable in my canoe.

Thanks in advance for your help.


a couple of tips
Put something in the bottom to give him traction. Something like a cheap non-skid bath mat works fine.

To get him used to the canoe, put it in your garage or on your lawn and feed him in it for a few days. Don’t force it – make it a place he wants to go. Once he’s comfortable with that, you can get in and “paddle” with him, giving him praise and/or rewards for sitting quietly while you get in and out and wave that strange stick around.

Make your first couple of trips on the water short, and do it in calm conditions.

If you do that, and make it fun, you should have an enthusiastic paddling buddy.

dog buddy
I started my lab in the canoe next to me so if he wanted to move too much I could hold him in place with my legs. Now he rides in the front and is the major navagator. He also has his own Kayak now ( a valley double) that he get me to paddle for him and he he really impreses people with his great behavior in that boat up here in alaska.

Steady as you go…
Well, my dog Maggie absolutely loves to be in the boat with me. I decided to Blog your question:

  1. Invest in a dog life jacket. They are not too expensive and will give youthe comfort of knowing that the dog will not drown if he or she falls into the water.

  2. Start with a canoe where the dog has space to move. Maggie was a little apprehensive on the first trip out but soon had no issues. ) Start with confining the dog to a small area and then expand.

  3. Make certain that you have an obedient pet. A dog that doesn’t mind you is certain to have issues. Place a special emphasis on the stay, sit and heel commands.

  4. If the dog is energetic, bring treats and a leash. The leash may be the only method you have to get a dog out of the water if it falls in. Just leave it connected but do not hold it.

    In all, a pet can be a great paddling companion if you are prepared for the safety elements needed to protect them and you.

    Check out the pic of Maggie and I paddling.


Unless you needed to get rid of the 30 chickens and were willing to give them away just to be done with them for some reason, I’d say the guy who traded you the dog screwed you. If it had been a purebred of champion pedigree, that might have been one thing, but a mutt that he would likely have given away - man. Well, the dog is yours now, and I bet you love him and wouldn’t trade him for 30 golden-egg laying geese, the way I feel about my dog, so its all good. Plus, mutts like that are smarter and healther, with better dispositions than purebreds anyway.

My standard daschsund doesn’t like water, but will ride on my SOT. I just put him between my legs and took him on short trips around the canals around mine to get him used to it.

I have a little doggy PFD for him, and when I take him out for a paddle, I take my gaff with a cork stuck on the end so I can reach out and snag him should he jump/fall off. A stable SOT is a great way to get a dog to like paddling. I imagine a canoe would be the best way, though.

All good advice
Let me add one more. A tired puppy is a good puppy. A good long run before and frequent shore visits to burn off all that energy is key.

Arlo hated the canoe at first and then learned to tolerate it. I had him out Sunday and he ran right over to the canoe, sniffed at his PFD and told me to hurry up.

Here’s a gratuitous photo of Arlo.

dog tips
You’ve gotten lots of good advice. I agree with starting on land and always rewarding the dog and making it a positive experience. Start with short paddles and tell the dog “good dog!”.

My one other tip is to put something in the bottom of the boat to give the dog secure footing…it can help a lot. Like a small rubber-backed carpet…or I use two kneeling pads…one for me and one for the dog. I also used a short leash sometimes to correct her and calm her down (“settle down!”) when we were getting started. I use small milk bones broken into pieces as rewards.

As for dogs in canoes…
I raised two female German Shepherds (litter sisters)from pups. Since I live in central Florida the first thing I taught them was a respect for gators. They still enjoyed swimming but they learned real quick to first scan the area and sniff the air for any gators. Once they considered the area safe they would enter the water VERY slowly and quietly. Then and only then did I put them in my canoe. I taught them that wherever I told them to stay they knew not to move from that spot until I told them they could. This became essential when their grown weight was almost 100 pounds each. Their reward would be a run along a beach, a swim in a spring, having a meal with their master or just being next to me while I take a break on shore.

What I’m getting at is in order for you and your dog to have a good time in a canoe is to spend lots of time with it, both in and out of the canoe; show it in a positive manner what you accept as good behavior; teach it discipline; and try to teach it something new or fine tune what they’ve already learned and before you know it you have a dog that you can take with you in any vessel at any time and it will enjoy doing it as long as its by your side. May you and your companion have as many wonderful trips together as I did with mine!

Suspend your pooches from slings
across a catamaran frame, and you’ve got the best version of “paddling with dogs.”

I take my dogs in my canoes while
tripping. My Eskie doesn’t like the water but he’ll jump into the canoe. My oldest dog died recently and now I have a six month old puppy to train. I find a PFD a good way to control the dogs since they have handles that you can use to lift the dog into the canoe. I glued a section of a sleeping pad in the canoe so the dog doesn’t slide. You must train them to stay between you legs. I took mine on the white water section of the Buffalo and didn’t tip. I’m planning several trips later this year including Quetico and I intend to bring the dogs. If you let the dogs run free in the canoe you’ll get a very good sense of balance, or very wet.

something else
They have to learn no standing,and only to get in and out when commanded.I was out last night with my dog we paddled right up to a newborn moose calf just short of being close enough to toch with a paddle wobbly little thing just new only a few hours, mom didnt like the idea much and came to waters edge.Minka sat and watched the whole proceedings and never moved a muscle.

as with everything dog patiences and lots of work for best behavior.Most dogs would have come unglued

my buddy micky

– Last Updated: Jun-08-06 1:17 PM EST –

Beautiful Papillon
Of course, you already can guess I’m partial to them. Smartest breed per pound. :slight_smile: Hands down.

Training a bullet proof stay

This is a trick I learned. We use it to teach and proof a bullet proof stay to obedience and agility competition dogs:

The Restrained Stay

First go through the normal steps of teaching your dog to stay in the sit, down and stand positions.

Once they get the basic idea of STAY, you can start to PROOF it.

Proofing means testing what a dog has learned against a challenge of some sort. It teaches them to follow the command NO MATTER WHAT ELSE is going on at the time.

Go ahead and jump to the conclusion that this plan is a great way to turn your good shore STAY into a stay that sticks on the water. Or in the wilderness.

To start: attach a leash and collar to your pre-prepared and waiting furred paddling companion.

Ask your dog to SIT. Tell your dog to STAY. While doing so, raise your hand in the universal stop sign position.

Quietly praise your dog when he complies.

*** Once the dog is settled, gently PULL on the leash.

The dog will probably move a paw or two. Say, “No. Sit.” Then replace the dog in the SIT position. Tell him again to STAY.

Back away and try again. When you pull on the leash and the dog doesn’t move, give it quiet praise and move in to give the dog a treat, making sure it stays sitting while you do so.

Then say FREE! and RELEASE your dog and have a little snack and play party. Let him know he did something really great.

Once your dog can do this at the Sit, move on to teach it at the DOWN and the Stand.

Start changing positions as you pull on the leash.

Not only will your dog learn what not moving really means, but it will learn to stay in the exact position you want them to stay in.

Never let the dog leave the STAY position until you tell them FREE.

Otherwise, if they just eventually get up, they learn that a stay is optional and they can choose when to break it.

When your dog has mastered this, you can add other challenges, such dropping food nearby, eating, jumping up and down, walking another dog or person past, etc.

If the dog has a problem, make its challenge easier, such as making the stay shorter, staying closer or keeping the distraction farther away from the dog.

You can also add this to the specific boat training techniques mentioned above to proof your results before heading out on the water.


Life is Easier with a Dog that Knows Stay

A good stay (and the LEAVE IT command which I’ll leave for some other time) is invaluable.

Just last week, I was walking the dogs on a small gravel road through the woods. The dogs were off lead.

A HUGE buck jumped up from below the road, startled by the dogs who were only a few feet away. It must have been sleeping there or drinking water from the stream that ran underneath.

I gave the dogs a command to stay and both stood stock still while the deer ran off. Instead of chasing it, they looked back to me for further instruction.

I was very proud of them for that.

It’s not that difficult is it?
just make sure your dog knows the commands “sit” and “stay” and then go canoeing. I allow my dogs to move around some and they usually fall asleep at some time durring the trip. There’s not really any big secrets to it.

For the record: Doggie PFD? Not! My dogs are real dogs, they go hunting all the time and could swim better than at 6 months old than an olimpic swimmer. Doggie sweaters are out too.


My cat wants paddle with me
but she refuses to wear a PFD.

What should i do?

Get a dog

You may want to think twice:


dogs & gators
Saw your post and I was wondering, just how did you teach your dogs about gators?