BWCA Best dog for camping/canoeing? Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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kbobb
member (16)member
 
09/25/2021 12:56PM  
Let me start by saying I have never been a dog/pet person. Could never find the time or money for it. Now I have more time on my hands and the thought of having a dog around has crossed my mind. Something like a German shepherd or similar for "home defense", but not interested in rottweiler or doberman type dogs.
What dogs do you find valuable for canoeing and camping - say especially in bear country, as a sentry?

thanks
 
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09/25/2021 03:12PM  
Consider checking out the Doggie Paddle forum and threads like this within that forum.

TZ
 
DRob1992
senior member (93)senior membersenior member
 
09/25/2021 03:26PM  
kbobb: "Let me start by saying I have never been a dog/pet person. Could never find the time or money for it. Now I have more time on my hands and the thought of having a dog around has crossed my mind. Something like a German shepherd or similar for "home defense", but not interested in rottweiler or doberman type dogs.
What dogs do you find valuable for canoeing and camping - say especially in bear country, as a sentry?

thanks"


I'm far from a dog expert. My wife and I have a German Shepherd. He is currently 7. I met him when he was 4. Just a few notes about our dog (not that this applies to all German Shepherds by any means) ... He is great for home defense. He is highly aggressive (still has his nuts and that may contribute a decent amount to his aggressiveness). I do not believe he would be a problem in a canoe or, in general, on a camping trip. The potential problems would most likely occur on portages where the likelihood of close contact with people is higher. When we take him on hiking trips (which is rare given how aggressive he is), we always use a muzzle and we try to keep as much distance as possible from other humans and pets.

If you decide to go for a German Shepherd, or really any dog for that matter,
I would take the time to have the dog trained as a puppy. A lot of people kinda go into dog ownership with a half-assed mentality and that just isn't fair to anyone involved. Sorry for the long-winded response. Hope this helps a little.
 
09/26/2021 10:02AM  
My Chesapeake’s were always my favorite. Of course I worked with them almost every day. You need to be very vigilant with any dog if your going to be taking them canoeing, hunting, hiking or anywhere in public. Lots of hiking and just walks prior and a fair amount of canoe time. Obedience is a must! But at the same time I let my dogs personalities come out. People always say you won’t see wildlife with a dog along. I saw plenty, in fact oil’ Bernie usually spotted them first and would be real good about being quiet and stuff. Current dog I wouldn’t think would be good. But she’s almost better. I’m sometimes more the problem. Haha.
 
09/26/2021 10:39AM  
A lab would be an obvious choice for people in the upper Midwest. Problem is that they are very large and require huge amounts of food.






My chihuahua, RIP, was an excellent canoe dog. At thirteen pounds she was a fearless camp guard. She was a Katrina rescue, she had a huge bite scar on her hind leg that always got comments from the vets. Minnesota winters were not her favorite. She never got used to the cold



 
4keys
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09/26/2021 12:14PM  
We have a yellow lab and have taken her camping. She is still young so while she behaves in a canoe, she is always alert and won't relax (our last lab did learn how to relax). She is friendly with people she meets on portages, but does stop at attention to alert us someone is coming the opposite way. In camp she sticks around & keeps all squirrels away. But she does behave differently when she senses something is or has recently been close by (bear? ) and will stand guard. She'll bark when a canoe comes too close to our site.

At home she always barks when someone comes into our driveway, but is friendly when I tell her it's ok. She is aggressive when fox come in our yard, but I don't know if she would ever protect me from a human, and we are not training her that way.

So for us a lab works. She lets us know about things, but won't attack everything.

 
yellowcanoe
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09/26/2021 01:31PM  
I have the best dog for canoeing and it was an unexpected acquisition. We adopted a supposedly Lab mix from a rescue in hopes it would enjoy swimming and lake living.

Nope. Its a Carolina dog mix and hates the water. No swimming. Wading is a maybe but the feet must touch something firm.

The best part is the dog loves the canoe and will never leave it even if tempted by a squirrel or a moose. No training at all was needed for the most recent dog. Just likes a nice yoga pad. My former dog, a Golden would leave the canoe in a heartbeat and swim after waterfowl.
 
missmolly
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09/26/2021 02:01PM  
A dog can lead a bear back to you and when the dog comes running back to camp with the bear in hot pursuit, you'll suddenly be the slowest prey present.

Bear vs. German Shepherd

I'd go with a sturdy, water-loving breed that won't get cold when wet, but spending time training the dog matters as much as the breed.
 
Duckman
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09/26/2021 03:53PM  
Heeler. Smart. Not prone to leaving your side. All the outdoor dog attributes you want in a more canoe manageable size.
 
missmolly
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09/26/2021 04:31PM  
 
sedges
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09/26/2021 04:31PM  
Dogs that are great at home defense are not good dogs for the BWCA. They rarely can turn off that protective mode when on vacation. A stranger appearing out of the forest on a portage becomes a threat to the owner and it goes downhill from there. I've been charged by a German Shepherd on the trail when an owner didn't have a good hold on the leash while he was adjusting his pack. I managed to drop my canoe between us giving the owner a moment to get control. It was a close call that could have been a lot worse.

Most dogs I meet in the BWCA are fine and friendly, except the one that peed on my pack. Actually that dog was fine it was the owner that needed adjustment.

I find that little dogs have a lot more fun in the canoe because they can move around. Big dogs pretty much need to stay put.
 
mjmkjun
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09/26/2021 04:37PM  
In short, many breeds/mixed breeds make great canoe companions. The one you want is the one who responds exactly to your command(s). That interprets into how much effort you want to put into training sessions when he/she is a pup and beyond.
A domestic dog has many potential enemies in the woods.
 
missmolly
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09/26/2021 06:15PM  
Woof.
 
Z4K
senior member (96)senior membersenior member
 
09/26/2021 08:42PM  
jwartman59: "A lab would be an obvious choice for people in the upper Midwest. Problem is that they are very large and require huge amounts of food.
"


My lab does well in a canoe, even at 100#. He does eat quite a bit, but at least he can portage his own food (and then some).







When he first started paddling physically limiting his movement was necessary to keep proper heel/trim but after a few trips he's got it down pretty well. Here he is providing necessary ballast for a solo morning fishing outing in an 18'6" kevlar. *Edit* Normally he does have a pad to sit on, the raw kevlar is somehow abrasive and slippery at the same time for him, on this particular morning it was trapped in a tent with a sleeping person.






Spending lots of time with them as a pup is much more important than breed choice, IMO.
 
09/27/2021 08:07AM  
I am partial to the Small Munsterlander.



 
ScottL
member (47)member
 
09/27/2021 08:09AM  
I think that most people who live with a dog (I don't think of myself as "owning" my dog as she owns a part of my heart and is definitely part of my family.) will respond that the best camping/canoeing/hiking/backpacking dog is the dog that loves to be with you. That canine companion that is as much companion as it is canine. You want a dog that will listen and respond to your commands to keep it safe and to keep it from being a nuisance on the portage trail and to keep it safe in your canoe. If you're going to expand your family to include a dog you should be ready to commit the time necessary for you and your dog to learn to work together. If you make that commitment you will develop a bond that will create a companion both on and off the water.
 
yellowcanoe
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09/27/2021 08:19AM  
ScottL: "I think that most people who live with a dog (I don't think of myself as "owning" my dog as she owns a part of my heart and is definitely part of my family.) will respond that the best camping/canoeing/hiking/backpacking dog is the dog that loves to be with you. That canine companion that is as much companion as it is canine. You want a dog that will listen and respond to your commands to keep it safe and to keep it from being a nuisance on the portage trail and to keep it safe in your canoe. If your going to expand your family to include a dog you should be ready to commit the time necessary for you and your dog to learn to work together. If you make that commitment you will develop a bond that will create a companion both on and off the water."

nicely put. Your dog is not a tool.
 
northallen
distinguished member(677)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/27/2021 01:42PM  
I am considering this breed as a replacement to my dear departed German Wirehaired. Looks happy in the canoe. Any recommendations on breeders?

sns: "I am partial to the Small Munsterlander.




 
northallen
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09/27/2021 01:45PM  
Trained
 
PeaceFrog
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09/27/2021 02:11PM  
Agree with many good points in this post. Breeds that are typical water dogs would be an obvious starting point. However, IMHO it all comes down to the individual dog. I have had pure labs and mutts over the years. I can honestly say I am a mutt guy. Don't rule out mutts as an option. My current dog is a rescue mutt with a Heinz 57 mix. She is absolutely awesome. Loyal to the end and has responded to commands from day 1. She has been the easiest dog to train I have ever owned. I have yet to put her in the canoe with me but I believe she would take to it like she did riding my 4 wheeler with me and my kids. She just wants to be with me no matter where I am and I think that is an important part to think about. Best of luck.
 
09/27/2021 07:30PM  
northallen: "I am considering this breed as a replacement to my dear departed German Wirehaired. Looks happy in the canoe. Any recommendations on breeders?

sns: "I am partial to the Small Munsterlander.

"


I can recommend a breeder: feel free to pop me an email and I will reply.

I also see we live fairly close; if you have not seen any SM's in person & want to do so...
 
Zulu
distinguished member(1866)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/27/2021 09:51PM  
I would think a dog that you love would be the best canoe dog. One that doesn’t roll in feces and doesn’t pass gas in the tent would be great too.
 
brp
distinguished member (154)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/30/2021 11:20PM  
My Lab/poodle and I hiked the Sioux Hustler Trail, BWCA, together. She died on Christmas, I’m still devastated. Anyway, I do suggest a dog that is large enough and athletic enough to cover some distance over terrain. Hiking with a dog is really a good time and can be easier than all of the additional logistics that go along with a canoe trip.

You also don’t want a dog so small you’re concerned about predators.
 
chessie
distinguished member (199)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/02/2021 09:31AM  
Breed probably matters less than temperament and interests, and starting them young in the canoe. Research any breed you consider -- get info on their traits, etc. A poodle can alert you to a bear just as well as a Mastiff. Your dog will spend more time with you at home than in the BW, so consider that as well. As someone else mentioned, my former beloved Chesapeake Bay Retriever was the consummate BWCA canoe camping tripper. Loved everything about it - canoeing, tenting, swimming, etc. Never barked at people. Was good as gold in the BW. They are water dogs, and they are/can be quite protective of their person. Chessie #2, the current model is a wonderful dog, but not a good tripper. Disappointing to say the least. I'd say consider your needs, the dogs traits, everything from personality to shedding, size, etc. Worry less about breed and more about training and socializing them to the task.
 
10/02/2021 12:29PM  
I agree w/ the training and all that over a perfect breed or something. I have a GSP and she's extremely well trained but also very active and attentive. Not a good combo for narrow canoes or kayaks....I've never even tried yet cause I know there would be a LOT of sit and stay commands used. And that's before the loons are nearby or ducks or whatever might be. She'd be a perfect dog at camp and on portages....but not in a canoe. Unless she's dead tired she likes to move around.

That said....if it was a priority of mine to take her I would train her and work with her and I'm sure it would work. But I hunt with her and don't want to try and take any drive out of her for a pleasure trip. She loves to sleep in tents.

A perfect canoe dog would be one that is well trained and content with just chilling in one spot for a while. Laid back
 
10/03/2021 09:41PM  
cyclones30: "I agree w/ the training and all that over a perfect breed or something. I have a GSP and she's extremely well trained but also very active and attentive. Not a good combo for narrow canoes or kayaks....I've never even tried yet cause I know there would be a LOT of sit and stay commands used. And that's before the loons are nearby or ducks or whatever might be. She'd be a perfect dog at camp and on portages....but not in a canoe. Unless she's dead tired she likes to move around.


That said....if it was a priority of mine to take her I would train her and work with her and I'm sure it would work. But I hunt with her and don't want to try and take any drive out of her for a pleasure trip. She loves to sleep in tents.


A perfect canoe dog would be one that is well trained and content with just chilling in one spot for a while. Laid back "


Ha yeah bird dogs are a bit of a challenge in the BWCA. I took my Brittney one year for the most part didn't tip us too much. When we hit the portage though, that's when he would range a bit too far for my taste.
 
10/04/2021 08:07AM  
I had some concern about tripping with my young bird dog the first couple times, however she has been nothing short of excellent.
She certainly is keenly interested in all waterfowl, and even more so in any grouse found on the portage.

Two things have really helped:
One, she carries a pack (saddlebags) and seems to understand that when portaging, we are 'working'. She is pretty easily called off of grouse, at least after that first moment of excitement.



And in the (tandem) canoe, I finally figured out that putting a pack next to her, partially confining her to one side, really helps with balance when she is excited. This matters less in the solo, where the narrow bow affords her minimal room side-to-side.

In camp, she takes it upon herself to defend camp from camp robbers (photo of her on-point on a squirrel). When she spotted a moose 100 yards across the water from camp, she let it know in no uncertain terms what she thought of the intrusion.


All that said, she is absolute terror on pheasants when it is 'go time'!
 
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