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Old 03-21-2014   #1
scout1's Avatar
roseburg, Oregon
Paddling Since: 96
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 40
rafting dogs

I really want to get a good boat dog. I was wondering what everyone has and what class water they go on, what kind of life jackets, what kind of space do they have on the boat etc. etc.

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Old 03-21-2014   #2
Renaissance Redneck
LSB's Avatar
Huson, Montana
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 993
medium size lab
no PFD
rides on top of the gear pile
keeps bears out of camp
stays with the kids when they're out of sight

"You're gonna be doin a lot of doobie rolling when youre LIVIN IN A VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER"
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Old 03-21-2014   #3
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,933
Catahoula/Mountain Cur mix (common around here for mountain lion hunting): she is a runt who is very timid in whitewater and mostly enjoys playing in waist deep water on shore

RuffWare CFD

Rides on wooden platform (drop bag beneath) behind oarsman on 18 foot bucket; rides on front passenger seat begrudgingly on 14' Cat (not ideal)

Have taken up to Class III, i.e. low-medium water Main Salmon; she will never see real Class IV. She swims to shore when lowered from boat (for practice) instead of towards us with a disgruntled look in her eyes.

Loves camping and amazing off leash retention; they are a very loyal breed and she has never gone more than 150 feet from me out of sight. Very people oriented, can't exaggerate that enough. But I would be lying if I said she "loved" boating"....she tolerates rafting for multi-day camping.

Best of luck and don't move to Utah...the least friendly state for boating with dogs (I only know one multi day that allows dogs now)

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Old 03-21-2014   #4
Summit County, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 153
90 lb. chocolate lab. She has done all the way up to class IV-V with my husband on our 16' cat (high water Dowd Chute on the Eagle a few seasons ago). She wears the Astral Bird Dog cfd. She used to wear the NRS cfd, but we could tell it annoyed her, especially since she chewed through one of the straps. She doesn't seem to mind the Astral at all. Can't recommend that cfd enough. On our 16' cat, she usually rides up front and sits next to me (did the entire Middle Fork of the Salmon like that). In our 13' raft, she sits on the floor in the front. She has saved my husband's life from a bear on Deso when they still allowed the pups to go down (search "Deso bears" or a similar phrase and you'll find the story with pictures of our bear encounter). She can swim better than most humans and knows what to do in the event of a flip - she actually stays with the swimmers and the flipped boat and doesn't go straight to shore. She goes on every river trip where she's allowed. The dog LOVES the water.
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Old 03-21-2014   #5
Lawson, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 27
Chow Chow!

No training required...she'll wear them all day long as we are on the river

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Old 03-21-2014   #6
elkhaven's Avatar
Belgrade, Montana
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 1,661
QUOTE=scout1;352185]I really want to get a good boat dog. I was wondering what everyone has and what class water they go on, what kind of life jackets, what kind of space do they have on the boat etc. etc.[/QUOTE]

Springer Spaniels - 40- 60 lbs. They roam on the boat, sleep on the gear pile, cooler, sometimes the floor. Great dogs, very friendly, very loyal. They too protect camp and kids. I have two NRS dogjackets, but niether of my current two have ever worn them. I typically don't do over class III with them, but my old springers did run some bigger water when I was single; Bear Trap (Madison), House Rock (Gallatin), Maupin Stretch of Deschutes, Main Salmon. One swam House Rock (pre-lifejacket). She got out of the river much faster than we humans did. She just followed us down on the bank. I got the jackets (both passed several years ago) prior to a Main Salmon trip which followed the flip in House Rock by a month or so (reality check and lesson learned).

As my kids grow we'll probably start doing bigger water, but until then the dogs usually stay with the kids when it's not a full family outing. dogs are awesome! Can't imagine life without them!

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Old 03-21-2014   #7
codycleve's Avatar
salmon, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 639
We had a golden on our main last year that was awesome.. I really like haveing a dog in camp.. We will have a ausie on our aug middle fork this year.. I have a border collie that loves the water but is way to high strung, too vocal, too pertective, and too in your face to put that burdon on others for a muliday trip.. I just built huge side racks on my cat to try and get her out on the day stretch..
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Old 03-21-2014   #8
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 25
128LB Alaskan Malamute! Loves the rafting and camping. Not much of a swimmer unless he has to. The swim on the top section of the Middle Fork June 2012 left him alittle gun shy of the water. Sits up front on bench next to my wife and on the front floor through big rapids. Ruff Wear PFD. Yes dogs do discourage bears from camp. Hate to go on multiday trips without him.
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Old 03-21-2014   #9
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 1,436
We've had several Labs. They are the Toyota Camry of the dog world. They are not perfect at anything, but they are VERY GOOD at almost everything. Other breeds are much better at specialized areas, but in general, Labs are as versatile as they get for outdoor dogs.

I couldn't imagine a better family/water dog. Mine have been in up to III-. My late female Shadow probably could have handled IV, but I wasn't into that kind of water when she was with us.

They will ride on every part of the raft during a single trip. Walking the tubes, sitting on the seat, jumping in the river, getting back in the raft, sitting on the floor, jumping back in the river, running on shore, sitting on the gear pile, jumping back in the river, trying to sit on the rowers seat with you, jumping back in the river, and getting dragged back into the raft. Their favorite spot is napping exhaustedly under your legs by the campfire.

If you like small children, you will like Labs. They have a similar mentality.

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers would be better if you want a dog that is a little more independent, and Golden Retrievers are better if you want a dog that will be physically attached to your hip and your face every waking hour and most sleeping hours.
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Old 03-21-2014   #10
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at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,347
Hey Cody I know two sweet Golden's looking to get on the MF this year

We have had labs and now have Goldens. Love love love them as they are sweet angels. They can be Velcro dogs, or wild athletes, as our Hazel was. We get females partially they are smaller, and females are supposed to be under 65 lbs, much smaller than most you see out there. They are wetter than labs but dry amazingly well and dirt just falls off.

They love boating, Lila stands up the whole way and reads the water. She can tell when we are going to "pause" on a rock on low water MFS and braces. Hazel would sleep on the gear pile in the back. We will find out where Pearl likes to ride in a couple of weeks in Labyrinth. One thing that is important is to get them out early. Their brains are most open to new and strange things for the first 4 months or so and by exposing them to boating and other weird footing you make them more adaptable through life to be comfortable in odd situations. We did dryland training on the raft, having treats fall from heaven while she scrambled all over it. One lake day, then some flat water. I adore boating with our girls!

I am a river, babe - I've got plenty of time, I don't know where I'm going, I'm just following the lines..... - "We are water" by Shaye
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