Dogs and Canoeing

Dogs can be unpredictable. Especially puppies!  We have recently acquired a new puppy.  Rider the adventure dog!  At the time where we decided to introduce him to the canoe he was about five and a half months.  I acquired a life jacket for him because I am a safe and responsible individual.  Also he’s not a super experience swimmer yet and if he jumped and swam to shore and got tired.  Too much safety isn’t always a bad thing.  To get him accustomed to it, I made him wear it around the house the day before and morning of.  He wasn’t super impressed at first but warmed up eventually.

The first thing on our list was to find a location with relatively calm water.  I didn’t want super big waves for the dogs first time in my canoe.  We found a bend on the South Saskatchewan River at the Fred Heal Canoe Launch. It was perfect with lots of sandbars.


I had purchased a cheap bathmat from the dollar store.  I, unfortunately forgot I had a large puppy and didn’t buy a bigger one.  I did this so that he didn’t slip around and had some stability.  It worked well and he was pretty much glued to it.  Initially my wife and I loaded him up and set off just off the shore.  As I suspected he promptly jumped in the water and swam to the shore.  Luckily we were only 15 feet away.  Next on the plan was to let the wife walk along the shore in case he did it again and row around with just him.  I constantly was speaking in a reassuring voice to keep him calm.  Eventually he settled in and laid down.

Once he was more comfortable I pulled over to a sandbar and my amazing wife hopped in.  Note the matching lifejackets.  Aren’t they cute? Completely….  planned..


Eventually he was good to go.  He even got back in the canoe after we stopped on an island somewhat willingly.

Problems we had:

It was a hot day and he would get thirsty and try to lean over and drink.  A 60 lb dog leaning over the side of a canoe randomly isn’t good for stability.  Next time I will bring some sort of water bucket for him.  I will try to fashion something that will hang down so that he can’t knock it over.

A lot of the problems we had were because of what my wife calls “Puppy Brain” .  Things like him wanting to swim, so he swims.  Gradually over time this should disappear as he gets older.

A couple more times out and I think he will be good to go for the canoe, furthering his abilities as Rider the Adventure dog!

Here is a picture of him doing his best muskrat impression.


Next up…. to teach him to fish.

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