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Discussion Starter #1
We are planning on going to Algonquin park for some daytime canoeing in the summer. Hope Dakota can sit still, at 77 lbs she could sure tip it. We alos have a small Zodiac which we haven't used in years but would like to start again. My husband thinks she does not need one, but he is going to lose this battle. I'm not a strong swimmer and always wear a lifejacket. I want my pup protected too.

I have a 10% discount from a store for 5 weeks as my dog is in agility classes, so I want to make the purchase soon.

What lifevest would you recommend. She has a 31" girth and in 9 1/2 mths old so if I could I would like to buy just one.
 

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I have a K9 Float Coat from Ruff Wear. I bought it many years ago, it has helped several dogs learn to swim, and has held up beautifully. They make 2 different kinds now...
Ruff Wear life jackets

Toozer in her Float Coat:
 

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Depending on where you are canoeing, it could be a lifesaver. If you are in a stream with some current, you may end up swimming longer than you thought in a tip over. Or how about far out on a lake? I would recommend it.
 

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I love the ones we got from West Marine. Good prices too!

Here's Sasha in hers:





When we went back to get Penny one we looked for a large and some of the larges had the padding under the neck and some didn't- weird. Look for the one with the padding in that area as it helps support the head.
 

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I love Super Soft vests:
http://futurepet.com/cgi-bin/FULLPRES.exe?PARTNUM=TEX25240

I take my dogs boating A LOT over the summer months, including a yearly trip to Lake Powell. They swim comfortably in these vests and have never been chaffed. They are CHEEP ($15-$20) and durable (going on three years with the same vest). I get the ones without the handle for safety reasons, it just looks like a hazard. The vest straps are great for pulling them onboard. Sorry for the large photo size.


Warning: your pup may think you've lost your mind when you first try on the vest!



But after a few minutes they will love it




You can see here how nicely it fits around the chest. The size guidelines on the website are right on and they are adjustable.




Swimming is easy in either vest- after this trip my golden smelled soooo bad after wearing the traditional style vest. It trapped in his body heat, but rolling in fish guts didn't help.
I hope you enjoy your trip... I'm dying to get in the water as you can probably tell from the photo overload!

 

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What lifevest would I recommend; none. I live in a flood plain, and over the past three years my dog Timber and I have had to go in and via a small Jon Boat several times. This is one of those times when I wish I had pictures to post. Logs, lawn chairs, all types of things floating by. Now in heavy current, if the vest got caught on one of those large logs, it might cost Timber his life. The real kicker is my darn dog loves swimming in the flooded waters.

Someone mentioned buying a vest to teach their dog how to swim. I think dogs know how to swim; am I wrong.
 

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My BF and I love to canoe and canoe camp in the St. Regis area and we are teaching Phoenix to lay down in the canoe. (super hyper dog....has been loooooong teaching period) I got Phoenix the Ruffwear PFD and it works great. The handle is nice to have when he swims beside the canoe.

Originally Posted By: Timber1Someone mentioned buying a vest to teach their dog how to swim. I think dogs know how to swim; am I wrong.
You are wrong. I had to teach Phoenix how to swim. He really had no clue and was very timid about getting in up to his chest. It took me luring him deeper w/ a toy to get him where I could drag him to where his feet didn't touch. From there, I would hold him up and he learned to doggie paddle. Once he got the hang of it, he couldn't wait to go swimming. I didn't teach Dakota to swim, but when you saw him in the water...it wasn't pretty.
 

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I have the Ruffwear K9 Float Coat, it is very well made. I had one for my terrier Pooch because he was front-heavy and without a lifejacket he would struggle to keep his front end and head out of the water and end up overcompensating and bringing his front legs way out of the water and splashing like crazy. With the life vest he swam normally. My Golden didn't use a life vest, the closest thing for her was a neoprene hunting dog water vest I used for her, it provided some buoyancy but not a huge amount.
I recently bought a Float Coat for Bianca because Ruffwear had them on sale but I haven't used it yet.

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Caras. I like the price on this one, plus I like how simple it is. I was worried about the heat factor too with the Ruff wear ones. The white ones would be cooler. Sometimes we can paddle for hours.

Most of the time we canoe close to shore, but the odd times we do cut across a small lake.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Originally Posted By: Timber1What lifevest would I recommend; none. I live in a flood plain, and over the past three years my dog Timber and I have had to go in and via a small Jon Boat several times. This is one of those times when I wish I had pictures to post. Logs, lawn chairs, all types of things floating by. Now in heavy current, if the vest got caught on one of those large logs, it might cost Timber his life. The real kicker is my darn dog loves swimming in the flooded waters.
I agree in situations like that. I will not be in a canoe in that environment though. Nice calm lakes and very slow moving streams are my speed. I'm concerned about a middle of the lake tip over. If shore is close by, I don't think I will put a life jacket on her.
 

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Originally Posted By: MaryWCaras. I like the price on this one, plus I like how simple it is. I was worried about the heat factor too with the Ruff wear ones. The white ones would be cooler. Sometimes we can paddle for hours.

Most of the time we canoe close to shore, but the odd times we do cut across a small lake.
My pups live in these vests on the lake. It makes pulling them into the boat a breeze. I think it would work well for you. It's easy to pull on and off which would be important in a small canoe. You're very right- it's easier for them to dry off since their backs are not covered and they stay cool with the design. The first vest I got was given to me by a boat dealer (and close friend) who swears by them. She uses them for her small pooches too. I couldn't believe the price, I firmly believe you get what you pay for, but this seems to be the exception. I'm still waiting for it to prove me wrong, though even if it crumbled today it would have been well worth the $15!
 

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Even at a lake, unless your dog is on a leash (with a harness), she should have a life jacket on. She can easily swim out into the lake faster than you realize, and get tired out there. Until she has experience at lakes (and you are absolutely positive of her recall), go with a life jacket. Tired dogs are at risk for drowning

I agree with Timber. Dogs shouldn't be allowed to swim in fast-moving currents. I'd add that dogs shouldn't be allowed to swim in any moving water that is cold as well. We see too many drownings of *people* here in WA. They don't anticipate how fast the water actually is. They certainly don't understand how quickly cold water disables them.

ANY time there is moving water and you're going to let your dog go in more than up to his toes, a dog should have a life jacket (and be on a leash).

Again, even if your dog is playing on the shore, a PFD is a good idea. If you accidentally toss his ball into the water, or he sees a deer on the other side of the river, he may go in without any regard to the current. Most dogs don't understand the risk of moving water. And most people (unless they're kayakers or fly-fishers) don't understand undercurrents. That wide mild river may be a torrent of current underneath. Play it safe.

Finally, no, not all dogs can swim. My dogs' swim therapist has quite a few clients, including newfs and labs, who were there simply to learn to swim. We assume it's an innate skill. But some dogs panic in water and sink like rocks.


A life vest is one of the best investments we can make if we live near (or vacation near) water. Better to wonder if we really need it, than to wonder if a PFD would have saved our dog's life.
 

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I echo the leash and harness. Teagan is a great swimmer, as is Neb, but they both swim with leashes and harness and if they're really swimming, I swim with them.

Luc does not know how to swim. He tries to swim on top of it and starts to panic (I tried to do 'intro to swimming' with him at the dog pool; we went slow, but Luc and water aren't friends, though he was very brave Easter weekend when we were backpacking in Killarney Prov. Park - he actually went across a couple of high creeks without being prompted (leashed of course, and he was crossing on stuff, but still got wet....one he fell in but he stayed pretty calm) (and got wet!), which he's never done before - low creeks, fine, but higher water crossings were a first for him to do voluntarily).

Mary, Toronto has 2 dog pools....you could take Dakota to one of them and get her used to swimming if you want.
....I would recommend Fit Dogs. They have a nice pool, you're the only one there, and for a small extra fee you can have staff help teach your dog to swim. They have lifejackets, lots of toys, and are really positive. You can get in with the dog and there's a nice ramp. I take Teagan there for rehab sometimes (not much lately) and it's not badly priced.
It would be pretty easy to get to from the QEW/Gardiner/DVP, as it's at Dundas and Broadview.

Just a thought!
 

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Jarn, that's what I do. From the time my dogs are wee pups, I take them to a dog pool and they get their toes wet. They swim with a trainer AND me AND our adult dogs and lots of toys (and teeny foam floaty things to help keep them from sinking until all limbs move in the same direction). As adults, they're great swimmers. But it's because like everything else in their lives, they've been socialized to swimming.

That's a great suggestion for Mary.
 

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Well, that's what I did with Neb, except in lakes b/c it was summer - he had a Ruffwear lifejacket, the smallest one, and at the start he'd still fall out of it, so we did a lot of swimming together where I was guiding him from underneath. But he got into it pretty quickly.

Teagan was already swimmer when I got her.

I don't expect Luc will ever like water or be a swimmer, it's more working with him to make those times we encounter water positive. Neb has gone on a canoe trip, but I don't expect Luc ever will (and it was when Neb still didn't fit his lifejacket and kept wriggling out of it, which I didn't find out until the first day of the trip....whoops! - so he was leashed in the canoe. He was about 12 weeks old, and we'd already done shallow water stuff without the lifejacket, but all was fine for the trip, thank goodness. I really wouldn't do a trip again making the assumption the jacket fit.
 

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Ok folks, all dogs are different. Timber was raised with two competitive labs and as part of their training the dogs will swim for miles behind my son's boat.

Putting a life vest on a dog is like doing that with an adult that is a good swimmer. You learn little and that is the same with the dog. LOL will they have it on for life, never being allowed to swim free of restrictions and make decisions on their own.

Could something bad happen, of course. So maybe those that favor PFD's should simply keep their dogs away from water.

I can just picture labs or chessies out hunting in cold weather and water, with their little life jackets on. Guess what, the GSD can handle this type of weather and water as good as the labs and chessies.

The one exception is ice out time. If a dog breaks through ice and there is any current the chances of survival are minimal. In this case a PFD might save the dog. Unfortunately we have had a few people that have let their dogs out onto thin ice, and the dogs drowned.

I suspect most, if not all of us would never do anything that stupid.
 

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Quote: Putting a life vest on a dog is like doing that with an adult that is a good swimmer. You learn little and that is the same with the dog. LOL will they have it on for life, never being allowed to swim free of restrictions and make decisions on their own.

Could something bad happen, of course. So maybe those that favor PFD's should simply keep their dogs away from water.
I think there's a big difference in putting a lifevest on a dog in a boat and use of a lifevest during all swimming. Grace is an extremely strong swimmer - she swims in rivers, lakes, the ocean etc, and has never had an issue nor does she wear a vest. However, when we took her canoeing last fall I really wished we'd had one for her (we only had one for Hector) and if we go back, we will make sure we have vests on both dogs.

I too am a strong swimmer, I have even taken lifesaving classes, but I still wear a life vest in a boat. I sure as heck wear a vest when I'm white water canoing or rafting.

There's a big difference in falling out of a boat and in walking off the beach into the water. When you fall out of a boat or the boat capsizes a dog or person could hit their head on the way in, they could wind up falling out into water that is too rough or too far from land and not water they'd ever voluntarily have chosen to swim in. So I think life vests are a good idea around any water for dogs (or children) who can't swim, but also a good idea for those who can swim when there's the possibility of accidently winding up in the water without control over how or when that happens, which is pretty much any boating situation.
 

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I agree with Pupresq's boat point. There are dangers of hitting a head on the boat, or rocks, in canoeing, particularly if there is white water or fast moving water, which make it prudent to wear a lifejacket regardless of the swimming level.

And canoes are more easily tipped than a motorboat or fishing boat, for instance.

It is b/c of the white/fast moving water danger that I would rather mine wear lifejackets while canoeing.

Have I ever put a lifejacket on for Teagan or Neb swimming in a lake? No, b/c that's an entirely different matter.

Edit: Neb actually fell out of the boat on the canoe trip last summer, in a fast-moving river in Temagami. Wilderness canoeing you have to be more careful. I had his leash attached to me, and I was able to grab him by the harness, but our boat shot right past him and the current was definitely too strong for him. Luckily I was able to see that he was falling and while I was able to prevent it, he was only a few seconds in the water. But it scared me, to think if he hadn't been attached. I cursed that his lifejacket didn't fit him then, just as I was so relieved he was attached to me and I saw him fall (I was keeping a paranoid eye on him).
 

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