Dog Water Sport Gear List

6 04 2017

written by: @lifewithmutts

Original Article Here

Spring is here! It’s really starting to warm up in the South and for our pack that means we’re heading back out on the water. Time to dust off the cobwebs on the kayaks and stand up paddle board that have been sitting idly in the garage all winter.

For those of you who have never tried a water sport with your pup, you may have questions about what kind of gear you need. After years of kayaking and SUPing with my dogs, I have a pretty solid list in my head of what I need when we pack up and head to the lake or the river.

Here are our must-have items:


 **Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that if you buy one of the suggested products using the links provided,  we will make a few cents to help keep our blog up and running, at no cost to you.

1. Watercraft (Kayak, SUP, Canoe)

Obviously in order to spent time ON the water, you need some sort of watercraft. Our favorites are kayaks and stand up paddle boards. You don’t have to go out and purchase an expensive kayak or board to try the sport though. Canoe and kayak rentals have always been pretty abundant, but as the sport of SUP continues to grow, there are now a good amount of options to rent them too, many of which are dog friendly. Just make sure you call ahead and let them know that you’re bringing your furry friend!

(Also, don’t forget your paddle. Sounds like a no-brainer, but believe me it happens!)

2. Life Jackets

If you’ve ever rented a kayak or even canoed at scout camp as a kid, bringing a life jacket for yourself when you’re on the water is probably a no-brainer. In fact, many towns and parks mandate that you wear a life jacket on the water, or at least have one with you on your boat/board. But what about your dog? Even if your dog is a great swimmer, if they are new to water sports, they may fall in accidentally and be caught off guard. Better safe than sorry! My dogs can swim and are paddle pros, but I always make sure they’re wearing a life jacket when we kayak and SUP, just in case.

For the last year, we have been using Alcott Mariner Life Jackets,which are a super affordable option at only $26.99. You can read our review here. We are now testing out the new Hurtta Life Savior, which is a more premium jacket. We will post a full review for that shortly as well. (So far we absolutely love them too!)

3. Floating Lead

Another safety precaution that you may want to consider is a floating lead. We always bring one on trips down the river or for open-water paddles, anywhere that has a current or that may be choppy. Even good swimmers can get in over their head in choppy conditions or fast-moving water, making a safety line a really great idea. This will allow you to grab your dog if they fall in the water or swim too far away and get stuck in the current.

Look for a floating lead with a carabiner hook on the end, so you can hook and unhook your dog easily. Never tie a rope to your dog’s collar! If they get tangled on a fallen limb or if the rope gets wrapped around theirs legs, this could be a dangerous situation. You need something that you can detach easily. Also, never use a regular leash or long line that. If you use something that doesn’t float, it adds extra weight as well as increases the chance of your dog stuck on something as the leash drags behind them underwater. We use this 20-foot floating lead from Sport Lines.

4. Water

This is one of those things that may sound like common sense, but it’s easy to forget to bring water when your’e going TO the water. Bring enough for yourself AND your dog(s).  Dogs get hot and dehydrate quickly when you’re out in the middle of a lake, river, or ocean with no shade and sun reflecting off the water.

5. Collapsible Dog Bowl

Don’t forget a dog bowl too! Bringing water for your pup is pretty useless if you end up wasting half of it trying to use your hand as a bowl! We use this small collapsible silicone bowl from Dexas. It ‘s small and lightweight and can be clipped onto your board or kayak with the attached carabiner.

6. Dry Bag or Dry Box

It’s always smart to keep a phone on you in case of emergencies… if you get lost or stranded, injured, etc, it’s important to have a way to tell people where you are. BUT phones are expensive and most of them do not do well when wet, so it’s important to bring a dry bag or a dry box to keep your phone, keys, and any other personal items dry and secure. I picked up this inexpensive dry box a few years ago for under 10 dollars and it’s still going strong. For longer paddles or when I want to bring more than just a phone and keys (snacks, money, dog treats, camera, etc) I use this dry bag from H2Zero.

7. Waterproof Camera or Phone Case

Spending time with your dog on the water is fun. It’s an activity that is sure to make some great memories. Be sure to bring either a waterproof camera like a GoPro or for a cheaper option, pick up a universal waterproof phone case to keep your phone dry so you can capture the highlights!

8. Snacks & Treats

Paddling is a great workout for you and your pup. Bring high-protein snacks like granola bars or trail mix to keep your energy up. Don’t forget treats for your pup too! They need energy just like we do, and they’re also great for training if your dog is new to water sports!

9. Cheap Sunglasses & Flip-flops

You will lose them. Maybe not today, but someday, and you will thank me. Leave the Ray-Bans and Rainbow sandals at home and grab no-name brand shades and shoes, just in case. You’ll care a LITTLE less if they float away (or sink).

Fun extras:

In addition to our must-haves, here are some other ideas to make your day on the water even more fun. A fetch toy that floats is great way to keep your dog entertained while burning off some of their energy! The Ruffwear Lunker is a floating toy that is sure to be a big hit with your water-loving pup. You can also bring a small cooler and find a cute little beach or riverbank to pull off and have a picnic. Also, don’t forget sunscreen! Remember that you aren’t only getting the rays from the sun directly, but also reflecting back at you off the water.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to stay safe and have fun with your pup!

Want to SUP or Kayak with your pup but don’t know where to start? Check out our “SUP with your PUP” post.

Do you have other gear that you bring on the water with your dog or questions about the gear we use?

Thanks for reading!

Debbie & Roxie

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30 12 2014

My name is Melinda and I am the office manager here at the River House Outdoor Program.  Today I woke up to find the temperature outside to be 23 degrees.  It didn’t dawn on me to even get into my car to commute to work.  In fact, today and everyday it brings me happiness knowing that there is such an ease and delight to get onto my bike and pedal to work.  I enjoy all the curves, hills, straight roads, the familiar faces, the smiles I try to put on people’s faces, and being able to use all five of my senses to jump start my day.  In Eugene you should always prepared to get wet.  But today, I was prepared to be cold.  I bike to work 80% of the year (4 out of 5 days) and very seldom have I had any challenges dealing with the weather. At the River House most of us are bike commuters.  So, I asked each one of the staff that biked to work today on how they prepared for today’s morning ride.  And here is what they had to say…

Zane, Melinda and Roger


This morning I was psyched that is was clear cold (24 degrees) and sunny.

I tucked my rain pants in my bike bag because well you know Oregon=winter=rain.

My ride is 25 minutes now and my hands often get cold so I layered a pair of goretex mittens over my gloves – toasty hands and no problem with the controls. I also wore my favorite hat that covers my ears and a lovingly made wool sweater under my bike jacket. I was plenty warm, too warm in fact by the time I got to work and stripped down to short sleeves until I cooled off. I thought about wearing sunglasses, have you ever had cold eyeballs, and wish I had but spaced them out at the last minute as I assembled my lunch.

And since I’ve been commuting in the rain a lot lately my chain is in need of a serious cleaning and lube-weekend project.

Hey – don’t forget your bike lights. Even though we are gaining a few minutes of daylight each day it’s plenty dark out there and drivers are still in the holiday mode and not exactly paying attention to cyclists.


Number 1 tip for cold weather riding.  Start off a little cold.  If you start hot, you will only get hotter.  Sweat builds up and you feel gross for the rest of the day.  Start cold and become comfortable after the first 5 minutes and stay comfortable.

On really cold days, glasses help keep your eyes from watering and a scarf is an easy piece to shed if you get too hot.  Just don’t let your scarf get caught in the spokes!


Morning Sunrise

Since I have such a cold downhill ride, I like to keep the part above my shoulders warm.  The wind can be brutal on my ears and eyes. I wear a balaclava under my helmet that covers everything but my eyes. I also wear a fleece neck gaiter over for that for added warmth.  I use the four layer (silk tank, sweater, primaloft vest, and rain jacket) approach when it comes to my torso area.  And for my legs I wear tights and a fleece skirt (  The fleece skirts are custom made here in Eugene and are super comfy. And I recommend them not for just biking in but for skiing, reading by the fire or taking your dogs for an evening walk. My hands stay warm in my fleece lined mittens. Today’s early morning ride was exceptionally bright.  And I was happy to ride into the sunrise with my sunglasses.  Since there is the challenge of different light conditions during this time of year, I like to have interchangeable lenses that change with what time of day I arrive and leave to work.  Lately, my lighter-colored lenses have remained on my sunglasses; they help to enhance contrast when it is cloudy and on my dusk bike ride home.

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Endangered Rivers

3 09 2014

My elementary school years involved spending a rather large chunk of time learning about Endangered Species–one year I made a paper mache manatee, and another year, I dressed as a ring-tailed lemur (no easy feat).  We did not discuss Endangered Rivers. Did you? I just discovered this term–but see it in action every year as I go back home to my river, the Bourbeuse River, in Missouri. Swimming or canoeing down to ‘Big Rock’–the exceedingly creative name my family chose for…a big rock–is now more like swimming in a wide, muddy drainage ditch. I will never again be chased out of the river by a water snake, or spend hours making tadpole homes. My uncle isn’t setting up the trotline at 4am anymore.

If you can relate to this sentiment, and even if you can’t, I highly suggest you check out this article, linked below. Let’s expand our talk of Endangered Species to the rivers, the forests, and the prairies.

Down the ‘Apocalypse River’

blog post by Michelle Brown

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A View From Above

10 07 2014

You know the feeling you got as a kid after monkey-ing your way up a tree, right?  And then, just as fun, you got to hang out with your friends or your sister on a limb.  Tree Climbing camp at River House speaks to those kids who’s first thing when they get to a park is to head to a tree.  You turn your head for 2 minutes and they’re yelling down at you, “Hey, look up!” Our staff have extensive technical experience and training to take your kids in the types of trees their climbing dreams are made of. 🙂 Wondering what exactly a week of Tree Climbing camp might look like? Let us help you–check out our website for the camp description here, and watch this short video!

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Winter Olympics Aren’t Over Yet–it’s Paralympics time

14 03 2014

Marek Kubiacka of Slovakia with his guide Natalia Karpisova after finishing in the Men’s Super G Visually Impaired during day two of the 2014 Winter Paralympics, on March 9, 2014.

Have you ever watched sled hockey? How about downhill skiing for the visually impaired? Or maybe wheelchair curling?

Regardless of your feelings surrounding the political tension happening in Russia and Ukraine, it’s hard not to look at the Paralympics and be in complete awe of the athletes. Head on over to the website to check out live streaming of the events. My favorite this year is watching downhill skiing for visually impaired athletes. What about you?

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“Like a Cow on Ice”

12 01 2014

The Lykovs lived in this hand-built log cabin, lit by a single window “the size of a backpack pocket” and warmed by a smoky wood-fired stove.

I was first introduced to the Lykov family via an article I read about them in Smithsonian.  The Lykov’s, a Russian Orthodox family living in Siberia, weren’t known to anyone until 1978 when a team of geologists flew over their homestead–150 miles from the closest town. And while 150 miles is quite a ways even when roads exist, it’s even less imaginable when it’s the taiga of Siberia.  The Smithsonian does an excellent job of summarizing their discovery and nearly complete demise once the outside world made its presence known in their lives.  Check it out here:

I forgot about that story until recently, when I discovered a documentary made about Agafia, the only family member who remains alive today.  She is not 70 years old and is out there, right now, living alone in Siberia.  She doesn’t own a Gortex jacket, a gas-powered chainsaw, or waterproof boots to get her through the nearly unbearable 9-month long winter.  Agafia does now have a neighbor.  One of the geologists who originally found the Lykov family decided to build a cabin and move nearby 16 years ago.  For better or worse–according to Agafia, he does not get his own water or find his own firewood.  Yerofei, the geologist, depends on a 70 year old woman to cut down trees by hand, saw them into logs, and drag them to his house.  In his own words, he is “like a cow on ice.”  Without all the fancy gear, my cookstove, a headlamp, and some cash, I think I’d be in the same boat.  If you can spare 35 minutes, watch this documentary about Agafia featured on Vice:

I highly recommend you read the article about her family first, though, to truly put her experience in perspective.  When I read that her brother Dmitry, “could hunt barefoot in winter, sometimes returning to the hut after several days, having slept in the open in 40 degrees of frost, a young elk across his shoulders,” I stop convincing myself that biking in my Gortex raingear in the Pacific Northwest is such an arduous task.  That truly, there’s little difference between me in Siberia and a cow on ice.

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