How to Enjoy Canoeing with Your Furry Friend

dog in canoe

Canine Canoeing Tips: A Barktastic Adventure

Are you itching to hit the open waters with your furry companion? Sheila and Duncan Goss, avid paddlers and dog lovers, know a thing or two about canoeing with their pups, Gryphon and Edgar. Living in the picturesque landscapes of northern New England, they spend up to 130 days a year exploring the region’s waterways. Lucky for us, they’ve shared their expertise on their Vermont Paddle Pups website. Here’s a fresh take on their invaluable advice for successful dog paddling.

Getting Started: The Wag-Tastic Journey

Before you embark on your paddling escapades, it’s essential to ensure your canine companion is a suitable candidate for this adventure. If your dog enjoys car rides, it’s a promising sign that they might take to canoeing as well. Now, let’s dive into the pawsome tips for a fantastic time on the water.

Tip #1: Choose the Right Canoe

Starting with a stable and family-friendly canoe is key. Opt for a non-aluminum boat, as aluminum tends to be noisy and can get scorching hot under the sun. You want a pleasant experience for your dog, after all!

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Tip #2: Create Comfort and Stability

Lay down a covering on the floor of the canoe to give your dog a stable platform. Consider using outdoor carpeting or the “Punt Surf” traction mat designed for SUPs in kayaks. These materials provide the perfect surface for your pup to lounge on while enjoying the ride.

Sheila Goss with her canoe partner, Edgar

Tip #3: Master Your Paddling Skills

Before introducing your dog to the wonders of paddling, make sure you’re confident in your own canoeing or kayaking abilities. Start on quiet and calm waters with an easy launch site. This serene environment will help your four-legged friend acclimate to their new surroundings.

Tip #4: Reduce Distractions

In the beginning, it’s best to minimize distractions from other people, boats, and dogs. The fewer distractions, the more focused your canine companion can be on the tranquil beauty of the water.

Tip #5: Safety First, Always

Even if your dog is an excellent swimmer, outfit them with a dog life jacket. These jackets not only provide warmth in cold water but also have a handy handle for lifting. Additionally, their bright colors ensure other boaters can spot your dog in the water.

Tip #6: Building Skills on Dry Land

Before hitting the water, train your dog in basic obedience commands such as come, sit, stay, and down. Reinforce these skills while practicing in the boat on dry land. The Goss family began by having their dogs sit in the back, just ahead of the stern paddler, to establish better control. Once the concept was grasped, the dogs “graduated” to their designated spots in the boat.

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Tip #7: Paddling Etiquette

Good manners are essential when enjoying nature’s wonders. Discourage your dog from barking to avoid annoying fellow boaters and disturbing local wildlife.

Duncan Goss and Edgar in the kayak

Tip #8: Establish a Routine

Develop a consistent routine for your dog when entering and exiting the boat. This routine will help your pup understand that you are in charge and set the tone for a paw-sitive paddling experience.

Tip #9: Keep It Leashed

Carry a short leash with you for walks to the launch site and while in the boat. However, avoid leashing your dog to the boat itself. The Ruffwear Quick Draw Leash comes highly recommended by the Goss family. Remember, your dog deserves the freedom to move around the vessel, and it’s safer for them in case of any mishaps.

Tip #10: Hydration is Key

Ensure you have a supply of drinking water and bowls for your furry friends in the boat. Drinking water from the lake might compromise your stability, so it’s best to have fresh water readily available.

Tip #11: Safety First, Part Two

Don’t forget to include first aid supplies for your dog in your kit. Broken glass and other hazards may be present along the shore, so it’s wise to be prepared.

Tip #12: Start Small, Dream Big

Begin with short trips to allow your dog to acclimate to the joy of paddling. Gradually increase the duration of your adventures as their comfort grows. Remember, the ultimate goal is to have fun together!

The Goss Family out in the canoe

Insights from Our Instagram Followers

Our incredible Instagram followers chimed in with their own advice on paddling with dogs. Let’s take a look at their invaluable tips:

  • Matt Vaughn, who kayaks with his pup Camille, emphasizes the importance of patience during this new experience for your dog. He suggests designating a spot in the boat where your furry friend can feel comfortable. Starting on calm waters is also key to their enjoyment.
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Matt Vaughn and Camille on a Missouri river

  • Damian Privitera, paddling with his dog Miley in Connecticut, recommends tiring your dog out before heading onto the water. A trip to a dog park or a brisk walk can do the trick. Additionally, getting your dog acquainted with the boat on land is a must-do step.

Damian Privitera canoeing with his dog Miley

  • Ryan Bryer, who canoes with his dog Rambo, suggests bringing a towel for your furry friend to enjoy their own spot in the boat. On hot, sunny days, an umbrella provides much-needed shade.

  • Caleb Proctor, an experienced paddler with his dogs Belle and Bailey, shares some practical tips: a towel on the kayak floor to keep it cool, a clean water supply and bowl, and no leashing to the kayak for safety reasons. When fishing, extra caution is advised to avoid any unexpected nautical dips.

We’re grateful to all our followers who shared their valuable insights on paddling with dogs!

Have Questions? We’re Here to Help

If you have any inquiries about paddling, our friendly Customer Service team is here to assist you. Contact them today at 715-755-3405 or [email protected]

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