An exceptional physical workout for you and a mental workout for your dog, taking your dog out on a canoe ride is beneficial for plenty of reasons.
Henry David Thoreau once said: “Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing.” And I’m pretty sure he packed up his stuff, grabbed his dog, and started paddling!
My favorite thing about summer is paddling out onto a calm lake at sunset with my dogs. A canoe makes no noise, and with just a few small strokes, we are gliding effortlessly across the water. As the sun sets, we can watch for wildlife and just enjoy being out on the water together.
I have been fortunate that all of my dogs have loved canoeing as much as I do. I’m confident that you and your dog will be as passionate about this water sport once you give it a go.
Here are the reasons why I love to paddle a canoe with my dogs:
So Much Room: Canoes are designed to carry large loads, so you would be surprised by what they are capable of carrying. If you are like me and live with a pack of dogs, a canoe is your best bet to get out on the water. If you are looking to paddle on over-night trips, a canoe is the way to do it. It offers much more room than a kayak and can handle rougher water than a stand-up paddleboard (SUP).
All this room means that a dog has plenty of space to get comfortable. I just lay a mat down on the bottom of the canoe, and they can stretch out in comfort. If it’s a hot and sunny day, my dogs can find a bit of shade in the bottom of the boat, or by sticking their heads under a seat.
Portaging with your Pooch: Canoes are lightweight and can be easily transported, either on your shoulders like a voyageur, or on top of your car. Since canoes are so portable, this means that it’s a simple task of loading them up and heading off with your dog to explore a new lake or place to paddle. If you end up at a dam or obstruction, it’s a small matter to climb out of the canoe and portage it around the obstacle. A kayak can be a little difficult to get out of, while still staying dry, and a SUP can be a little tiresome to carry longer distances.
When you portage a canoe, a hands-free leash and obedience skills will help keep your dog by your side. When I have the canoe up on my shoulders, I obviously can’t see as well. My dogs walk beside or behind me – they take their jobs of seeing eye-dogs seriously!
What a View: In a canoe, you’re sitting up higher than a kayak, and I’ve found this to be beneficial for spotting wildlife or potentially dangerous situations. From my kneeling position, I can read the water, keeping an eye out for snags or rocks. Hitting a rock or running into a snag can startle your dogs. Even the most well trained dog might panic if you were to suddenly smash into something, which could upset the canoe.
Easy in, Easy out: When my canoe is on the water, and I’m ready to head out, I usually never get a chance to utter the whole command “Load Up.” As soon as that first syllable leaves my mouth, the dogs are leaping into their spots and ready to set off! Your first few times out, your dog will obviously need some guidance about where to sit and how to settle. Many people practice this on land first.
Canoes + Dogs=Good Dogs: Yes, it’s true – the old adage “A tired dog is a good dog” applies in the canoe, too! Your dog isn’t going to be getting a physical workout, but after a day out on the water, taking in all the new sights and sounds, your dog gets in a mental workout (which is often more exhausting than a physical workout). My dogs are more exhausted by a day of paddling than a full day of hiking.
Life is best spent with those we love. If you enjoy being out on the water, spending time with nature, then consider a canoe, so your canine can join you!
Kevin Roberts lives for adventure. Together with his pack of rescue dogs and his husband, he spends as much time outdoors as possible. Kevin lives by the motto: “Get outside and play with your dogs!”