Can You Take a German Shepherd on a Canoe?

After a couple of canoe trips with my German Shepherd Aura in the canoe I had some thoughts about taking a shepherd on a canoe trip. As time goes on and we go on more canoe rides and I become more of a dog canoe expert I will update this article, so feel free to check back on it in the future.

Aura is 5.5yrs old at the time of her first canoe trip. She is not a big fan of water. She’ll get in and splash around up to her elbows. To get her into the canoe I got myself and my gear situated and had her hop in. I launch from a canoe ramp which made things easier. If I were getting into a canoe from a dock there is probably no way she would have jumped in.

I shoved off. Much to my surprise she didn’t mind. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I forgot her leash and used a strap from the truck on her. After taking the pic I immediately realized that this had to come off of her. Tipping wasn’t in the plans, but hey, you never know. I do not want a 20′ cord hanging from her neck if she had to swim to shore, especially in the river that we were in which has all kinds of stumps, sticks and branches in it in the shallow riverbed.

German Shepherd Canoe

I have ordered for her a life jacket and will bring a bowl for her next time. The sun beating down really heats her up. She does not like heat.

Concerns / Things not to do

After our first few adventures I thought of several things that you should no do with a German Shepherd in a canoe.
If you use a leash, use a short one and do not tie it to the canoe. I would hate to even think of what would happen if the canoe were to capsize and your shepherd were tied to the canoe.

Keep the canoe dry. I can’t imagine my shepherd being comfortable in a canoe with a wet bottom.

Keep your dog cool. Aura was a hot dog out in the canoe. I was enjoying the rays but she had her fur coat on. My canoe is plastic. If yours is aluminum that is not going to be cool. We went out in April and she was hot. If we go out this summer I’ll be sure to see what I can do to keep her cooled off while she is confined.

Other canoe notes

Aura occasionally leaned over the wide to lap up some water. I tried to keep her in the center, but sometimes she laid on the side. This actually bothered me but probably because I’m almost 40 and it just seemed to put a lot of stress on my back. I asked her to get in the middle but she really had no clue. I couldn’t get mad at her- after all, I was the idiot that put an 80lb Shepherd into the watercraft.

Have you ever taken your German Shepherd on a boat?


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