How To Train A Dog To Ride In A Canoe

Our dogs are our best friends, and we never want to be away from them.

If you’re a very active person, and you enjoy taking your dog on walks, hikes, swimming and including them in so many different activities, then you may have thought about taking them canoeing. 

Going on a canoe is a great way to cut loose, exercise, and spend some time in the great outdoors, so why not take your beloved pooch with you?

The only issue is that dogs naturally do not really like the feeling of stepping into a canoe as they can be a little bit rickety and wobbly, so it may take some getting used to. 

How To Train A Dog To Ride In A Canoe

How To Train A Dog To Ride In A Canoe

To train your dog to ride in a canoe, you’ll have to start slowly, with the canoe somewhere familiar and comfortable for your dog.

For instance, you’ll need to place the canoe in the front yard or backyard, and let your dog explore it. They may need to sniff around and work it out for themselves. 

Once your dog has had time to examine the canoe, you’ll need to encourage them to jump in and sit nicely in the canoe. This can be done by encouraging them, enticing them with treats, or sitting in there yourself and calling your dog in. 

Everytime your dog is happy to jump into the canoe, say the command Up or your chosen command, and reward them with praise and treats. This will teach your dog to jump into the canoe on command, which is essential when you’re eventually out on the water with them. 

When your dog is in the canoe, it can be useful to gently rock the canoe so that they get used to the feel of it on the water. Make sure that you keep praising your dog, and practising the command to get them into the canoe.

The same goes for getting your dog out of the canoe, you’ll need a command such as Out that teaches your dog to disembark the canoe on your word. 

It’s also important to note that your dog should already have a good understanding of other commands, and is very obedient before you attempt to take them into the canoe.

For instance, your dog should be able to Sit, Stay, Come, Wait, and listen to you when you ask them to do something. You will not want your dog diving out of the canoe when distracted and swimming off after ducks as this could lead them into trouble.

So, as long as you are confident in your dog’s ability to listen, you can take them in your canoe. 

Once your dog is accustomed to jumping in and out of the canoe, you will need to try them actually on the water. To do this, make sure that they have a life vest on and securely fastened. 

Then, you’ll want to try coaxing them into the canoe when it is near the exit of the water, in a shallow pool of water and somewhere safe.

You will not want to try this in a body of water that is very choppy, as your dog may be afraid of the current and the wobbly feeling of being in the canoe. 

You can also try this for the first time with a friend, so that you can hold the canoe steady while your dog practises getting in and out of the canoe.

Again, repeat the process and treat your dog accordingly, and once your dog is used to being in the canoe, you can try taking them out on the water! 

How Do I Calm My Dog Down In A Canoe?

Keeping your dog calm in a canoe will just take practice, and you will gradually have to get them used to it by exposing them to the canoe frequently without it being in the water.

You can also place the canoe somewhere familiar for them, such as in your backyard and place a comfortable blanket or their favorite toy inside of the canoe.

In addition, you’ll want to ensure that you sit in the canoe, so that they feel more comfortable and not fearful of the canoe at all.

When they approach the canoe, and get used to jumping into it, make sure that you always reward them with praise and tasty treats!

You will also want to keep your dog safe and calm when in a canoe by providing them with a life jacket or life preserver. We recommend purchasing one that has handles and tabs so that you can lift your dog out of the water in the event that they fall in. 

This dog life jacket from Outward Hound is brightly colored to easily spot your dog in the water, and has two handles to lift your dog in and out of the canoe.  

Tips For Getting A Dog Used To A Canoe

The best piece of advice that we can give you is to never try to train your dog to get into a canoe when it is on the water. You should only attempt this after your dog is already accustomed to getting into the canoe and is already a bit used to it.

The uncertainty of the canoe of the water and the risk of slipping is a sure-fire way to get your dog to never want to hop in the canoe again! 

Instead, practice on land and be patient, offering your dog lots of praise and treats whenever they make good steps towards getting in and out of the canoe without fear.

You should also only try to train your dog for this if they are a confident swimmer, and you are confident in their ability to listen to commands. 

Being out on the water can not only place them in danger, but it can also put you at risk too, so you will need to ensure that they can obey commands without fail.

You should never attach them to the canoe or kayak, as they need the freedom to move especially in the case of an emergency. 

As always, keep a stash of treats handy ready to reward your dog as this will be the easiest way to train them to go into the canoe with you. Positivity, praise and patience is the way forward! 


To summarize, you can take your furry friend literally anywhere with you. You can even take them canoeing! Dogs often enjoy being on boats and out on the water as they can hop into the water to swim, or watch the fish go by.

If you want to head out with the canoe and take your canine companion with you, then you’ll just need to get them used to sitting in the canoe, and train them to get used to the canoe.

Then, you can go on as many outdoor adventures with your pup as you like! 

Daniel Johnson