How to Take Your Dog on a Canoe Trip

For many people, a canoe trip is the perfect way to spend some time outdoors with their best friend. But for those who have never been on a long-distance excursion before, or are just concerned about taking your dog along for the ride — things can go wrong quickly. Here’s what you need to know when planning this adventure with your furry companion in tow.

“Canoeing with Dogs Near Me” is a blog that describes how to take your dog on a canoe trip. The blog includes helpful tips and advice for taking your dog on the trip.

Black dog sitting at the side of canoe in lake.

Note from the editor: This is a guest post by Darren Bush.

Most people who know me are aware that I live in a dog-friendly environment. Depending on who I’m dog-sitting for, there are usually one to three dogs at the residence. Amazing Grace (Gracie, my black lab) sniffed at all the gear while I was getting a boat ready for a trip on the front yard. “You’re not bringing your dog in that boat, are you?” a woman with a lab puppy said as she went by. I replied that Gracie would be with me.

She said she’d want to bring her dog and that she didn’t know how to handle dogs in boats. “How do you grow prizewinning tomatoes?” is akin to asking. Dogs on boats may be dealt with in as many ways as there are dogs. The temperaments of the dogs vary, as do the boats they’re in and the paddling abilities of their human companions.

Having Gracie (now 10) and Winnie (our German Shorthair Pointer, R.I.P.) as paddling companions for over fifteen years has taught me a few things.

A good excursion with your dog necessitates that your dog be both physically and mentally at ease. There are a couple methods that I’ve discovered to be highly effective.

Black dog sitting in canoe.

First and foremost, dogs desire secure footing. They despise sliding about in a wet canoe’s bottom. When wet, many current canoe materials are quite slippery, and anything isn’t wet at the start of the day will be wet after a dog jumps in and out a few times. Canoes made of royalex or polyethylene are very slippery.

I’ve discovered that if you clean the canoe well, bathtub tape or textured dock tape will stick well to it. Because the chemical agents used to free boats from molds are not adhesive-friendly, clean them well with Dawn and a greenie pad. You just need to cover the places where your dogs prefer to go, not the whole bottom of the boat. (Note that putting your packs on this abrasive tape and letting them slide about can wear holes in them.)

One of those bathtub mats with suction cups all over the bottom is another option that I’ve heard works but haven’t tried. I’ve also heard of individuals utilizing indoor-outdoor carpeting or a thin piece of plywood or OSB in flat-bottomed boats. In any case, giving them something to dig into with their claws is a smart idea.

In the sun, aluminum boats may become quite hot. An aluminum canoe’s reflective capability may not be appreciated by a dog with sensitive pads. Also keep it in mind.

Second, dogs despise lying in the bilge. Even if your dog is continuously hopping in and out of the boat (more on that later), he or she does not like lying in a pool of water. Although a little amount is acceptable, certain boats, particularly those with shallow V hulls, gather a large amount of bilge water. In one inch of sticky river mud, dogs will not lie down.


If you have a smaller dog, a little platform may be required—they enjoy to look over the gunwales, and it will keep them out of the bilge water and more happier. A 1/4-inch piece of plywood is sufficient for the job. You’ll want to ensure sure it fits your boat, doesn’t shift about, and doesn’t cause entrapment in humans or dogs.

Finally, certain dogs need lifejackets. I don’t care if your dog is a natural born swimmer like mine. I’ve seen powerful dogs exhaust themselves swimming against the current, and there are dangers in rivers and lakes that are just as deadly to dogs as they are to humans—perhaps even more so, since many dogs lack the judgment required to cope with snags and strainers (trees that have fallen into the river, straining the current). A decent dog flotation device will allow your dog to easily keep his or her snout out of the water, ride higher in the water and therefore be safer, and most dog floaters include a lovely grip on the back to make grasping them easier when you need to get them out of the water fast.

Fourth, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever Would you tie one end of a rope around your neck and the other to your yoke? If you must keep your dog on a leash, tuck it beneath your foot. Nothing should be tied to you or your dog under any circumstances. If your dog is continuously yanking on the leash, the solution is more training, not a longer leash.

Don’t think that just because a dog isn’t a natural “water dog” (Lab, Pointer, etc.) that it won’t love being in the water. Our friends have a Staffordshire Terrier that loves the water but is incredibly dense. Petey is a happy dog when he can float. Violet, their pug, on the other hand, is more of a beach dog.

This completes the physical setup of your boat (and your dog). The psychological aspect is equally crucial. It’s not always simple to get your dog to enjoy canoeing. Gracie had been taught since she was a puppy, and despite the fact that the pier was solid and the boat was not, she would sooner do anything than be left behind.

Black dog running in shallow water.

The fundamentals of training apply. It’s important to encourage little, gradual actions that lead to the desired behavior. Cut up some of the most odorous dog treats into little pieces. Toss a few into the canoe while it’s on dry ground. Encourage hopping in and out of the canoe, playing with it, and getting to know it. When you’re performing yard maintenance, you might even toss the dog bed in the canoe to help your dog grow more comfortable to the setting.

When your dog is comfortable on dry ground, tether your boat to the pier and repeat the process: goodies go in, dog goes in. Coax out, reward, and congratulate. Rinse, lather, and repeat. Then, while still at the dock, try sitting in the canoe and luring your dog in. Gently rock the canoe. Praise and reward. Take a few strokes with your paddle. Praise and reward.


Dogs are inquisitive, and the rule (at least for Labs) is that if they’re inside, they want out, and if they’re outside, they want in. If they fall asleep, a duck will most likely swoop over and wake them up. They’ll figure it out eventually if they spend enough time in the canoe, and it won’t be a huge issue. They will soon get used to it and settle down.

Black dog looking towards sky at the beach.

Take everything I’ve said with a grain of salt. It was effective for me. Whatever you do, do it with a sense of humor, and you’ll be rewarded with a traveling buddy who will give your paddling a whole new dimension.

Take everything I’ve said with a grain of salt. It was effective for me. Whatever you do, do it with a sense of humor, and you’ll be rewarded with a traveling buddy who will give your paddling a whole new dimension.

1636383092_487_How-to-Take-Your-Dog-on-a-Canoe-TripRutabaga’s owner and Chief Paddling Evangelist, Darren Bush, is also an amateur blacksmith, longbow shooter, and primitive skill enthusiast. In current culture, he says, rudimentary talents are disregarded.



The “canoe with dog” is a great way to have fun and enjoy the outdoors. You can take your dog on a canoe trip by following these steps.

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