Many of us at Eb's have dogs. Each of our pups has very different personalities but one thing is universal: they always want to join in the adventure, no matter where you're going.
Many dogs do well in canoes, especially if they are good car travelers. Like anything else it takes some training and acclimatization - don't expect them to know what to do right off the bat.
Start with small steps: being in the canoe on land, then floating, then short paddles. Whatever you use for regular training (treats, praise, etc) applies here as well. Teach them to wait for a command before getting into or out of a canoe. Sit, lie down, and stay are very useful commands.
Consider getting your pup a doggie PFD. Even if they are a strong swimmer the handle on the back gives you another measure of control so you can grab or lift your dog when necessary.
Kevin's dogs, Rumble and Cherchi, ready to go
As you would with children, wear your own PFD so you are able to help your dog in case of a capsize. They may end up under the canoe if you tip and can panic under there, so be prepared.
Again as you would with children, NEVER tie a dog to a canoe. This is a drowning risk.
Rumble at Little Stanley
Along with a traditional first aid kit, there are a few extra items to bring along for your pup just in case. Baby socks or booties are great for sore or cracked pads, and vet wrap is very useful if you need to bind a leg.
We bring along Pedialyte oral rehydration powder in case of electrolyte issues - either dehydration or if your dog ingests so much water it throws off their electrolyte balance. Kevin's dog Cherchi once had a great time chasing waves along the shore and swallowed too much water; she became quite ill and he wasn't sure she'd make it. Edith's dog Islay had the same issue swallowing too much water while learning how to swim and leaked water uncontrollably for over an hour. This can be more dangerous than you'd think, especially in the wilderness far from help.
Jeff with his dog Bear in the boat, Montreal River
- Try a piece of indoor/outdoor carpeting on the boat bottom. Some dogs don't like the slipperiness of the canoe. It can also be cold there, so we often use a piece of closed cell foam or RidgeRest.
- Bring a rawhide or bone for longer sessions in the boat; dogs get bored.
- Use a bug shelter if you have one. Dogs get driven crazy by bugs and learn really quickly where they can get away from them.
- Attach a bear bell to your dog's collar. They will alert wildlife (who you don't want your dog harassing) plus you'll know where they are. At night, you can attach a glow light if you like.
- Don't leave your dog's food out - this is a wildlife attractant.
- Treat your dog's poop just as you'd treat yours - put it down the outhouse hole, bury it well, or pack it out.
Edith portaging with her dog, Islay