Boundary Waters Quetico Forum :: Listening Point - General Discussion :: canoeing with your dog.
We showed up at our local resorvoir for an evening paddle. We go there regularly for our two mile walks and that is what she wanted to do. The water was flat as glass when we started off.
I added about 100 pounds of hitch hikers from shore to help stablize and help calm her down. I took a British slip lead and tied it to the thwarts and onto her collar. She did not like the initial get-in with the side-to-side wobble. (Very glad on the slip lead.) After about a 100 yards, she calmed down a bit, but would not lay for anything. It was like driving in the truck, she wanted to watch her surroundings. The one thing that really helped was we let her sit on the 4-wheeler on the seat in between our legs. When she would move around, she would feel for the inside of my thigh and I would adjust my stroke to the opposite side she would lean.
What I found that actually surprised me was that my paddle stroke changed. I use a longer paddle and found that my lower shaft hand grasp is about 5 to 6 inches higher so I could shorten my paddle some. You really want to focus on the paddle entering the water parallel to the sides of the canoe and follow through, keeping it tight to the gunwale. If you lazy paddle, you get more side-to-side wobble, resulting in a more nervous dog.
What I didn't expect was, when we passed walkers, she loved watching the young girls babble, keeping a eye on them always. At the end, we passed a couple middle aged women, one that was built and dressed in something my wife would wear. That really made her want to get out. She was convinced that was her mom. I had to finish up the loop keeping pace with them or we were going to get wet.
I don't believe this was the best canoe for the job. Something a bit wider and flatter would have been better. Maybe giving her a chew bone would entice her to lay down. Bucket seats would have been more stable, but harder to handle the dog than suspended. I was constantly putting preassure on her shoulder, then counter bracing with my legs in a bit of a figure 4, combined with when and where and how hard I paddled.
My pup is still scared of swimming and that was my advantage and we need to pick up a life jacket for her. She likes to splash, just not swim. I'm still on the fence on bringing her up this summer, but we survived and she is a work in progress and a far way from Maddie the Goose on YouTube. I guess keep the water small and time paddling realistic. One hour was pushing her patience.
When we made it home tonight, I unloaded our canoe and laid it down in the yard. I flipped it up and asked her to get in, and she willingly did, then she laid down on the floor. I will take this as a win. Have a good paddle, friends.
In my experience it can be really helpful to put something like a rubber backed bath mat in the boat to give them solid footing and their own spot.
Penobscot 16s are a bit wiggly, but it's a tandem so you should be fine with practice.
My last canoe dog was a black lab. Several times she jumped into an empty floating solo canoe without tipping it at all. I put the canoe in the water, turned around to get my pack and by the time I turned around again she was already in the boat. She could also jump(like a cat) from one canoe to another to visit other paddlers.
We also taught our lab to "load up" on command, and she waits until we tell her it's "ok" to unload. At 73 lbs I don't want her jumping in when I'm not ready. And she won't jump into 2 feet of muck because she thinks it's the shore. Yes, she was pretty dirty after that learning experience ! Dogs always keep things interesting.
I don't think tying the dog to a thwart is a good idea in the even of an upset.
I used to put rocks in the bow when fishing to help with balance, but got nervous in case of tipping; if the boat goes upside down the rocks will come out, but if just half way and back it will be full of water and rocks. Not sure how many it would take to sink a canoe, but until I do I'll put my food barrel or a dry bag filled with water up there instead.
Both my dogs prefer the firm feel of kevlar under them instead of foam, so long as there is no/little water under them. I carry a masonry sponge (about a buck at Home Depto) to help keep water and mud out.
Good luck on your next lesson.
My dog (3yo) was recently on her 5th canoe trip in the bwcaw, and it was her best!
She was real jumpy in her earlier canoe ventures, always wanted to be right up on the bow even in tandem. We put her is the middle and it was back and forth every 5 seconds trying to look straight ahead of us. The bow paddler did not appreciate that.
Now when we go, she knows we are camping. She even will lay down on a pack and look from there or nap which is a blessing!
printing: "She was real jumpy in her earlier canoe ventures, always wanted to be right up on the bow even in tandem. We put her is the middle and it was back and forth every 5 seconds trying to look straight ahead of us. The bow paddler did not appreciate that. "
My dog does the same thing. Either she does this or stands on the front seat with her front paws on the bow. Reminds me of the girl in the movie, Titanic! LOL