Back to the list

Dogs on water

author Lucy Byrne | Sport and travel

First, find out how your pet reacts to water before you go on the trip. Some dogs feel at home in the water, but others may not be as proficient swimmers and may be afraid of water. So before you go ride the river, you must get your dog familiar with water and canoe or raft. First, take a ride on calm water and find out how your dog reacts to it. Always let him go back to shore so he's not afraid. When the dog gets used to the rocking of the boat, he will view the situation as normal and will not perceive it as dangerous. You should also teach him to sit or lie still in the boat, especially if it's a larger breed, otherwise all it would take is a fast movement from one side to the other and you will be in the water.


If your dog is not a proficient swimmer, there are several life jackets for dogs on the market. They differ in quality and price. I think taking the middle road is a good idea. Some dogs don't like vests, so it's better to go when you are sure your partner can handle it. However, you should never dress your dog in a vest designed for people; it doesn’t fit anatomically and restricts their movement. It's also better to ride down weirs without the dog on board, and you should choose days that aren't too hot in consideration of your pet. Excessive heat on the water can be truly unbearable for dogs, and they can easily overheat. A cooling pad or vest can also be a good helper on a boat.

What to take on the trip

You should pack a leash, of course, and a muzzle, which you will especially need at the campsite. You should also pack drinking water so your dog doesn't need to drink river water the whole time. And don't forget dog food. Collapsible bowls that easily fit into a bag are very practical. It's also nice to bring some treats along. After all, your four-legged pet deserves to be rewarded for handling the boat so well. The bottom of a canoe will not be very comfortable, so I recommend bringing your dog a comfortable bed, but you could also use an old folded ground pad that doesn't mind water. 

A different rhythm

Many boaters say how great riding the river with their dog is. Your trip gets a new dimension where your pet meets new people and you have fun. Of course, it does mean a bit of extra trouble. You have to make more stops to let your pet run around and go potty. But that's a small price to pay for enriching each other with moments spent together and fun. :)

Did you ever take your dog on a boat? Do you have any other tips?