Water attack by...dog!?

I had a bizarre incident while out paddling today and wonder if anyone has had this happen.

The scene: paddling along a quiet flatwater inlet that goes through a residential area (inlet is open to public boating). Admiring properties, docked boats, etc.

Two young boys fishing from a dock with a dog by their side, perhaps part golden lab. I am paddling at the opposite side of the inlet to stay well clear of their fishing lines, so perhaps 50 feet from their side.

Just as I start to pass, the dog flips out. It leaps into the water and, while barking and growling, paddles furiously making a bee-line toward my kayak. It gets to my boat splashing me and trying to get its paws on, I am pushing at the dog with my paddle, the kids are screaming the dog’s name and for their father who was nowhere in sight.

My primary fear is tipping the boat, which is rocking strongly as I am trying to defend against the dog who is trying to find his way onto the boat. Finally, the dog seemed to get tired of trying to keep itself afloat and it turned around and swam back to its dock. Of course I paddled like mad to just get away from there.

In the end, nobody was hurt, but talk about scary. Of all the dangers I try to keep in mind as a new-ish kayaker, I never thought there could be a dog attack in the water!

Anybody else experience anything like this?

It would have had it’s skull split open
by my paddle if I was in the boat.

Jack L

Next time…
… start paddling. The fastest-swimming dog in the world is no match for the slowest kayak. I’ve had dogs approach me, but always in a happy way, never growling. If I’d have been in that situation I would put paddle to water and kept distance between us. Just sayin’.

Trying to hurt the dog is extreme
It is not the dog’s fault it is not trained correctly. The owners are the ones at fault, not the dog. Escaping is definitely the choice here, by avoiding the conflict altogether.

I must admit, I never have even thought about that kind of thing happening whilst paddling. I am glad the worst that happened was a relaxing paddle turned into a nightmare.

I think you would get a good laugh if a neighbor on the lake got the attack on camera. See it from another perspective.

That poor yellow lab
He was recently adopted from a shelter ,where he’s still affected by his memories of his previous owner who used to beat him with a kayak paddle.


50 foot head start and you couldnt outrun him?

Time for a norrower longer boat.

who tried to hurt it?

Paddle away from dogs on the water. You must have thought it was cute to have a dog approach you but they can latch onto your arm and tip you over.

Attack dogs.
We had a similar incident while white-water rafting in Costa Rica last year. We passed a small farm on the river and the resident border collie decided to chase us off his property. He swam furiously after us and even took a bite out of our leader’s paddle. All while swimming though 4’ standing waves.

I experienced coming back to the boat launch at Monksville in NJ, and finding a couple, their baby and a BIG dog playing in the water where I needed to take out. Nobody moved out of the way, and the dog barked at me the whole time I got out and carried my boat up the lawn. He was off the leash, and they assured me ‘he’s really friendly’ - not amusing, to say the least. I just tried not to make eye contact and get the hell out of there as fast as possible.

Lab “Attack” …
Yeah I was doing a mermaid walk pushing off in a whitewater boat into the surf and this crazy yellow lab ran and grabbed my paddle from behind and tried to stop me from going out in the water. I was not sure if he wanted to play with the paddle or if he was afraid I was was going to get hurt in the waves …he was inordinately friendly and hyper … so I was not really afraid of him. He kept running back and forth between the owner and me and splashing in the water and barking … not sure what he wanted but he was having a great time. Owner middleaged female was very embarrassed .

“inordinately” and “friendly and hyper” when talking about labs does not go together in the same sentence. The definition of a lab is “friendly and hyper”. Basically a 90 pound lap-dog.

My dog wants to “retrieve” anything
… in the water. Maybe the barking was a way of psyching himself up for a big job.

Cape Cod and first sea kayak
A number of years ago, while staying on the Cape for a few weeks, I rented a Tempest 170 from Goose Hummock in Orleans. I wanted to try a real touring boat, so I took a 3 day rental. My first paddle was in Pleasant Bay, and I put in on a nice sandy beach aeea off route 28 near the Eastward Ho CC.

Felt like a kid riding a bike for the first time without training wheels. Scared and exhilarated at the same time, and knowing this is the only way to ride.

Coming back in, nervous about getting out of such a narrow boat, I noticed an older couple with playing with their big black lab, throwing a ball in the water. Right where I needed to land. So I went down a little ways, to get out of the immediate area. I had just put the bow on the sand when the dog noticed me, and made a beeline in my direction. Climbed right up on the boat while I was fumbling and trying to get out and stand up, not knowing the dog’s intent.

Of course, being a lab, he had the ball. He either wanted to go for a ride, or to give me the ball. The owners at least ran over and pulled him off, and had the common sense to at least pretend to be appalled. Turned out they had a row boat or canoe, I forget which, and the dog liked to go for rides.

Fortunately the T was a rental and thus well loved, so the scratches blended in well enough. But I remember thinking I would be not be so happy if this were my boat.

Paddle backwards. Odds are that the dog can’t stay with you very long. Too many people have forward on the brain and will waste time trying to turn a boat, when the simplest solution is just to back up.

Also, it is unlikely that even a good sized dog can capsize you unless they catch a claw in the perimeter line or similar. It’s just a matter of your time in the boat to get more relaxed. We’ve had good sized dogs try to climb on our sea kayaks out of excessive friendliness - we’ve never come close to a capsize from it.

Never thought of this.
Thought this problem was only for motorcycles. Glad you posted I will be far more aware of dogs playing in the water from now on.


– Last Updated: Sep-04-11 2:04 PM EST –

Very likely the dog was more excited (or even scared) than actually aggressive. He may have even been trying to save you from that big fish you were riding on.

I agree that backpaddling quickly would be the best defense. If you keep your bow toward him, he would have even less chance of tipping you than if he tried to climb up the side. That failing, what about spraying him with a few big blasts of water from your bilge pump?

Oh I see now.

A gal pal and I were paddling a local
lake on a windy day so we were using the shoreline to block wind. As we went by a picnic area, 2 guys sent their large black lab after us. He was off our stern making better headway against the wind than we were. The guys were laughing at the two old ladies trying to get away from their dog. He got close enough for me to shove him away with the paddle with a stern “no” and eye contact. He was a nice dog and figured out we didn’t want to play and headed back towards shore. Then the guys threw sticks at him. So then they got reported to the DNR patrol and we had a nice rest of the day. Poor dog. He reminded me of our dear departed Lab who loved water and boats and would have been just as confused. We were in a big Clipper Tripper, so probably could have dealt with an attempted boarding, but the water was deep and I wasn’t in the mood to deal with it.

…but maybe not that unusual. Some dogs just don’t seem to identify ppl in/on vehicles as people (and/or are poorly-disciplined/trained). I’ve experienced this many times while bicycling.

Usual occurrence is, I bike by some old country home out in the boonies, and Fido launches like a bullet after me, barking furiously, seemingly trying to defend his turf. I probably look like some strange deer or giant rabbit to him or something.

I can always outsprint him if I want to (unless its a greyhound), but I think to myself, “Geez, what if I was some old lady who couldn’t haul ass? That’d end badly.”

A few times early on, I’d get off the bike and talk to the dog, if it wasn’t big/mean-looking (while still putting my bike between us of course). Sometimes the dog would go, “Oh, it’s a person” and mellow out. Those are the ‘play play play’ dogs.

But sometimes, the dog just keeps on being aggressive. Those are the “I don’t really care if you’re a person” dogs. For this reason, I just outsprint 'em now.

Owners that don’t control/train their dogs (especially BIG dogs) should be recycled. It’s really quite dangerous, especially when said dogs encounter ppl who don’t have the speed to get away and/or who get flustered easily.

Many ppl have an intense fear of getting bitten by a dog… I’ve seen ppl nearly panic themselves into crashes on rides when a dog comes out. Along similar lines, I’m sure a capsize wouldn’t be out of the question for some during a ‘water dog’ attack, even if the dog never laid a tooth on you.

Gold Mine
If you are ever injured by an animal whose owners can be identified, you really should train the owners with a big lawsuit. It may even become a gold mine. Its amazing how well the owners think they know their dogs, and how stupid they sound when on the witness stand


Juror- Litchfield County