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Old 08-27-2007   #1
Emmielou's Avatar
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 106
Doggy PFDs

What is the best PFD for a dog? He'll be about 40 lbs by the time of our trip.

Also, anyone have any experience taking Samoyeds down river? He digs water and is really calm in new situations.

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”-Ed Abbey
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Old 08-27-2007   #2
Gnarnia, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 651
I use the one from NRS: NRS Canine Flotation Device (CFD)

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Old 08-27-2007   #3
oarbender's Avatar
ww guide/ frame builder/welder, mobile fabrication gig
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 247
both my labs wear

the are great. chance has had his since he was about three.....he's seven now. although a little faded, its wear is minimal for all the ripping he has done thru the bushes, sticks and rocks.
Expedition Gear Rental
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Old 08-27-2007   #4
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at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,347
We have the Ruffwear also. They are great, I think a bit more ergonomic than the NRS. It is nice having some floatation under them on their belly and sides, instead of all on their back. ruffwear makes great quality products.

Search for the user "chip", he's got a northern breed that he takes on his boats
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Old 08-27-2007   #5
Gnarnia, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 651
I went with the NRS because it fit our dog better (German Shorthaired Pointer). Just like a pfd for a person, you want to make sure you get a good fit. I'd recommend trying them on your dog before pulling the trigger.
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Old 08-27-2007   #6
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 831
You know, the funny thing about those doggie PFDs is that the little tiny ones cost just as much as the big ones. I priced an XXS for my Chihuahua and decided I'm going to make him one with his harness and the huge pile of outfitting foam and bulkhead foam that I have scavenged from eddies over the years.

The PFD that fits my dog looks like it would float a GI Joe or a guinea pig but it is still about $50. I guess most of the cost is in the labor and it takes just as long to make a Barbie Doll PFD as it does to make one for a Saint Bernard?
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Old 08-27-2007   #7
GWS, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 486
Dog PFD vs. No Dog PFD

I have a dog that loves to swim. He kayaks and rafts with us all the time. He is a string swimmer and in good shape. I am of the belief that he is in more danger if he had a PFD on. He does not know to avoid strainers or overhung brush and I am worried that he will get caught by a branch while getting out of the river. I know a dog owner who lost their dog on the river because the dog pfd got caught on a branch and drowned the dog.

Anyone else think the dog PFD is more dangerous than not? Maybe the risk outweighs the reward.
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Old 08-27-2007   #8
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,347
Wow, that's the worst case scenario with PFD, and always a risk as it is even with a person with one on. It is a horrible situation I cringe at. But as with all things, anything can happen and you can't plan for every possibility. I think avoiding strainers would be difficult for a person, even if we know we should avoid them.

We use one for the purpose of floating the dog in case they get thrown and injured. Perhaps it's a head injury, broken leg, or whatever, the PFD would hopefully keep their head above water.

Then the handle makes it really easy to haul them in the boat QUICK!

So I think it has more opportunity to help, than hurt. If I'm going to wear one, so is my dog.
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Old 08-27-2007   #9
Gnarnia, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 651
Mut - I have seen firsthand a scenario where a dog would have likely drowned had he been wearing a pfd. We were doing a mid-summer float on the Gunnison from Escalente to Whitewater and there was a 16' oar rig in our group. The water was like 1300 cfs or so. Our friends brought their English Bulldog with them. Not a great river dog but he liked the water and was a pretty good rafting dog. Within the first few miles the guy rowing wasn't paying attention and caught the edge of one of the only holes on that section of river. It wasn't a big hole by any stretch but it was sticky as hell. So much so that it spun a fully loaded 16' raft 180 degrees so that the bow was pointing back into the hole. It all happened so fast that the dog and the boatman's wife both went into the hole. She was wearing a pfd and started getting surfed in the hole - a quick throw rope got her out in no time. The dog wasn't wearing a pdf and was pushed immediately out of the hole. That damn bull dog did the longest mystery move I've ever seen. He was probably under for close to a minute. But the point is that he washed out of the hole and did come up. I'm pretty sure, based on what happened to the wife, that the dog would have been surfed in the hole and wouldn't have been able to get out. However, even though our dog is a great, strong swimmer (she swims for retrieving bumpers almost every day in the St. Vrain in and around the Black Bear, O-Hole, etc.) I feel safer with her in a pfd.

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