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Discussion Starter #1
Taking on a new puppy and wanted some advice on how young is too young. We are mostly float trippers (Upper C) but are kinda new to the whole dog on a boat thing. We certainly will be putting the little guy in a PFD but....
 

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There is no exact answer here. PLEASE be careful, dogs drown every year because of irresponsible boaters. Make sure your dog is comfortable with the water first and is OK with being in the water long before putting them on a boat. Regardless of the run it is easy for a dog to end up in the water. Hitting a rock, or a new pup just jumping in because they are afraid.

When your dog is comfortable in the water and will respond to your commands then is the time to take them for a ride. Start slow and have some help and get them use to the boat and always put them in a proper fitting PFD.
 

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A couple of tricks I did was to get my dog used to wearing the pdf before she got in the river or boat. It was normal for her to wear the jacket. Then we would go to the river and she would go swimming. She loved to swim with or w/o the pfd.

Next I would have her get in the boat while it was in the driveway or on the trailer. Once she would get into the boat on command I just tethered the boat on the water and told her to get in. She actually wanted to swim and wasn't all that interested in the boat. But she did what she was told and got in the boat. Most of the time I would put on the pfd when she was learning to get in the boat in the driveway. She would just be relaxed sitting and laying in the boat.

After a while I never had a problem getting her in the boat before we got to the water.

Her favorite position was to ride between my feet. Sometimes she rode in the bow and snap at the waves.

She also taught herself to ride on the bow of my kayak. She used to give me dirty looks when I bounced her off the boat and when I dragged her back up.

She was a great river bud.
 

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I've never river broke a dog, but I have gun broke dogs allot. The key is to ease them into it. I would never take a pup out and start shooting 12 gauge rounds right next to. I agree whole heartily with the above post, ease them into it. Most of the time it works sometimes it doesn't, kind of the luck of the draw. None of my local friends get the whitewater thing either.
 

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I've never had a dog since I've been boating but I've seen plenty of dogs that were brought to the river and expected to just hop in the boat and go for the ride. Sometimes it works however I've seen lots of dogs run on shore and trash themselves trying to keep up with the boat, or completely flip out when the boat hit a riffle or rapid. Merritrd's advice is the best thing I've ever heard about how to train a dog for the river - by conditioning them to be familiar with the boat, the PFD, and the environment and especially the commands.

I'd also add that others have said it really helps to go for a flatwater float first with the dog, then work up slowly to bigger and bigger rapids.

-AH
 

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I took my 5 year old used but new to me dog to an open dog area in January a day after I got him. He broke through some thin ice along the edge of a pond to go for a swim. I figured that was enough prep for an overnight class IV trip the next weekend! He did great and continues to; I got lucky though.

I've seen other dogs react in many ways. If all you're doing is float trips I would absolutely not worry about it and just go for it--if your dog is not terrified of water.Put the pooch in his CFD and just go for it. A buddie's dog really doesn't dig it, but he does a ton better if he's in the same boat with my mutt so if there is another calm river savvy dog around that could help.
 

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Maybe try state bridge to burns first. A lot less consequence if something goes wrong. I am in the same situation. My dog, 10 year old border collie, loves to swim, is extremely well trained, but has never been on an extended raft trip. I just bought a raft and am hoping to take her along sometime soon. She has already been well aquainted with water and has been in a raft once (Lower Kennebec one class III than float) but that was a long time ago. And if I remember correctly she was eager to jump in and swim instead.
Keep us posted.
 

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We first took our dog down upper c when he was 11 weeks old. Definitely wore a pfd and a great time. I blew up the boat in the garage and let him get comfortable on the boat. The next season he had 40 days on the river.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the great advice! We will most certainly take it slow and teach him to swim proficiently before we put it him in the boat.
 
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