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So, we have a just-over 6 month old German Shepherd, we've had him out once on some Class II. A little nervous in the splash (I don't think he likes the noise... or just not used to it yet) but I think he's got a future.

Here's my problem: I have two twin-tube catarafts. I run a frame with a solid drop floor, but there's very little room in there and even at mid-puppyhood, he was little cramped. He's only going to get bigger.

Not that we can afford it or anything...but we're thinking of adding a self-bailer to the fleet, in part (but not just) to accommodate the dog and give him a better experience.

So - for cat rafters, does your dog sit on the tubes or a platform, and was it hard to train him to stay on it? And for SB boaters, does your dog ride inside the boat, on the floor, or on top of something to keep his nails from puncturing the floor? Or some other way?

If you have pics, would love to see them. Been boating quite a while, but never with a dog, and we definitely want him along on easier float trips.
 

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I have been boating with my dog for years. Their nails are not sharp enough to damage my boat. She rides wherever she wants, which is usually at my feet through rapids. Good luck.
 

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How we dun it....

So - for cat rafters, does your dog sit on the tubes or a platform, and was it hard to train him to stay on it? And for SB boaters, does your dog ride inside the boat, on the floor, or on top of something to keep his nails from puncturing the floor?
On our Aire Cougar, we made some plywood panels to put on top of the frame. Kinda like this...



Old Fred A. Dog was able to walk around on them no problem while we were running the flats. It also made for a comfortable sitting spot for him right next to Jen while running the gnar. She was easily able to help him stay on the boat by holding on to the straps on his NRS vest.

You can see him tucked behind the red cooler there...





On our old Star self bailer with an I beam floor, he wasn't very happy as his ass was always under at least some water when he sat down. As a result, he always stood up while we were running.

On our newer Star self bailer the floor sits higher off the water and is usually dry. He liked this much better than than the old one. He would sit or sleep most of the trip and only stand for the big rapids...





Never had any problems with his nails causing any damage on either boat.


I miss that guy, he was a good friend.


Have fun with your pup while you can!:D
 

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Here's they way i did it. First since your pup is young I suggest training them with a " back " or " to the back " command. Very much like heel but trains them to walk behind you. Perfect practice for the trails so you see horse, bikes, dogs, or wildlife before they do.

What I did for my raft is I store most of my gear in my stern with a paco on top. Or I put a stern plywood deck down with a paco. With this combo I can command my dog to the back. This way she isnt in the way of my oars, sightlines, or falling all over passengers. Of course my dog is pretty huge so getting in the way of oars is a priority. Hope this helps.
 

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Similar story for us a year ago- 14' cat with a webbing floor was "OK" for our Lab. I went with a Maravia Zephyr for a "dog boat" because of the size, but more because of the drop stitch floor. She (and her babying mom) is much happier in the round boat.

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I can't speak for cat boats but we've had dogs on round boats for decades. No issues with claws at all. Pavement/concrete is a good nail trimmer, or just trim them yourself for lots of other reasons, but don't worry about the boat...



On my boats the dogs typically wander about, on flat water they're usually up front watching, when they get tired , they'll go to a deck and lay down or get on the floor. When it gets rougher they're usually on the floor or on the deck behind the rower. I built lots of deck space and covered it all in non-skid type paint both for kids and dogs. In 30 days this year with two dogs and two kids no one has fallen in! pretty amazing really. The photo above has 4 dogs (pre-decks however).

I also do the "in the back" thing, mostly from our cars (when we get out of the car and they're sitting on our seats). But it works well when things get hairy or the kids are fishing. The safest place in my boat is right behind the rower, it's a large deck, with a bimini folded on it (when not in use and rarely up when in rough water) and usually some bags strapped there, so they feet "nested".

I've had three other river dogs that have since left us. Two adored the boat and spent a lot of time on it. One tolerated it but hated white water due specifically to an early experience (she was about 9 mos old). We hit a large hole and water came over the whole bow, washed her from her sleeping spot (drop bag behind raised front seat) all the way "through" me and deposited her, rather roughly, against the back seat. From that day on when you could "hear" the water (enough WW to make noise) she would go sprinting under my legs. So take care to get your pup well acclimated to light water before moving up and for gods sake wake them up before hitting big holes :oops:.
 

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Haven't you ever heard, dogs and cats don't mix?

Seriously, my mutt rarely can find a good spot on my 16' cat no matter how I set it up. He's fine because he loves the river but he is a lot more content in and on a round boat. I usually have a table/drybox padded out up front where he can be with people and I try to create a "spot" in the dunnage pile in the the back.

He knows "off" means to get down from whatever high position he's on. So if he's doing his balancing act he'll get right down when I command it. He also knows not to cross the oars until he gets an "ok" from me.


He'll put his chin on the boat as I'm rigging waiting to hear the "load up" command. Great critter!

Also, my experience with several other river dogs, including another Brittany, is that being way up high with nothing around then on a river is not the best way to start. A buddy rowing my cat was having problems with his mutt once. He was just antzy and not happy. We let him jump in my raft and he found a perfect little cubby hole to cuddle up in among the dry bags and was so much happier...
 

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I have always had big dogs & they have always rode in my cats.

I have built decks out of ply & covered them with astro turf or closed cell foam. Dogs seem to like it and grip well.

As far as breaking in the dog, some love it some never like it. Go slow & make it fun, class II & stay off the rocks for a bit and pretty soon loading up on the boat will be just like loading up into the car.

Also, if you have friends with river dogs try to do floats with them so the dog sees this as completely normal. Our current dog made her first trip on a nice day, on a mellow stretch, with about 6 other dogs. She's young and just wants to do what the other dogs are doing..... Worked great.

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Dyson rides pretty much wherever he wants on flat water and between the Thwart and dry box when any rapids are involved in our self bailer. I'd post a few pics if it wasn't such a pain on the Buzz.
 

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Ours like to hang out either on the sunbathing deck at the front of the boat, or on the everything bag at the back. In rapids, she prefers the company of the rower by leaning in at awful times.





And sometimes at the very back:

 

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Lotsa great stuff here.....I only have two little things to add:

I have a doormat that is kinda a cross between a 3M pad and astroturf, I cut a slot in each corner and I lash it to wherever I want the Dolly-dog to be. It gives her some traction, so she's not scrambling and that helps her state of mind. Now, I've seen some dogs that are part mountain goat and don't need anything like that, but she'll get pretty anxious if she doesn't feel sure-footed.....the irony is that on land, she is a mountain goat....go figure.

And the other is not directly in response to the poster, but just throwing my uninvited opinion around. I am a big fan of the doggie PFD. I see plenty of dogs wearing them, but also plenty who are not. I know there are plenty of very able and gonzo dogs out there, who do fine in the water and even in the rapids, but even those dogs can get into trouble and even if not for the flotation, that handle is such an asset with doggie retrievals. I have a friend who's dog reads water, retrieves sticks through the nastiest stuff and even cliff jumps....and LOVES it all. He is one bad-assed dog, but he wears a PFD. When he does those insane cliff jumps with his human, the dang thing seems to serve as a flak jacket. A little more than 2 cents...
 

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I have a doormat that is kinda a cross between a 3M pad and astroturf, I cut a slot in each corner and I lash it to wherever I want the Dolly-dog to be. It gives her some traction, so she's not scrambling and that helps her state of mind.
I forgot to mention on my post that I have glued cheap walmart sleeping pads to my cooler and old dry box for added traction for the mutts. The mats are the thin blue closed cell foam, glue is 3M spray adhesive super 77 or 90. Nicer to sit on too.
 

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We have a 16' cat and a 13' raft. In the raft, our lab has always ridden in the front, sitting on the floor. On the cat, she typically rides next to me up front on the big deck, sometimes she'll move to the side decks. In bigger rapids, she sits between my husband's legs on the diamond plate floor while he's rowing. Not her favorite spot, but she'll do it. When we did the MFS she ended up riding next to me on the big deck up front through everything with no problems.

We recently added a pup to the mix and took her out for the first time this past weekend. Both dogs like to be up front with me on the big deck. Everyone seemed comfortable and happy.
 

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Never had luck with out dog on anything over Class II for our Ocelot.

Our dog has no problem finding a home on our old 18' Avon bucket. She really loves hanging on the wooden platform behind the rowers compartment because she loves leaning into us. She isn't a huge fan of the rapids so she needs a fairly stable spot to relax.

Phillip
 

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Dyson rides pretty much wherever he wants on flat water and between the Thwart and dry box when any rapids are involved in our self bailer. I'd post a few pics if it wasn't such a pain on the Buzz.

Dyson like the vaccuum cleaner? :) Perfect name for a doggie, no one needs to sweep/vaccuum the floor after dinner when you have pups around!
 

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My lab is 10 years old but I just bought a 13' raft and he's slowly getting used to it. He's always a little antsy but usually hangs out on the rear floor where I strap down an old Crazy Creek for him. It stays pretty dry except for the rapids. He's also a freaking giant at 90 lbs. so getting in and out of the boat can be interesting. Last time I took him out we let him jump out in the middle of the river and he swam downstream through an eddy (he swims like a jetboat), eating about a forty facefuls of river foam in the process. We all thought it was hilarious until a few hours later when he started puking greyish brown river foam all over the boat. I forgot what your question was but I had to tell that story. Beware the eddy foam!
 

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I have a corgi (so... a relatively small dog).
I have a 14' Hyside - my seat is just in front of my cooler, cooler sits slightly higher than seat, and then I usually have a pile of crap in the back of the boat. Her all time favorite position is laying on the cooler between me and the pile of gear. She's kind of sandwiched in there so she's less likely to go in the drink... and it's a nice stable flat spot where she doesn't get too wet on cold days.
 
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