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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7 Wonders in Winter

17 01 2017

An Oregonian’s guide to the 7 Wonders during the chilly months


SMITH ROCK: Here’s a little secret about Smith Rock State Park: It’s typically warmer and drier than the rest of Central Oregon. The volcanic tuff spires of Smith Rock and their location in the high desert create a bit of a microclimate. This makes winter a perfect time to hike here. Crowds have thinned, trails are in great shape, and the rock walls absorb sun that is reflected back as heat. I like to hike up Misery Ridge and over the backside, to return around the base of the cliffs along the Crooked River. This route offers a great combination of epic views of the Cascade Range from the top and awe-inspiring views of the red-green-brown spires of Smith from the trail below. (Photo by Ben Moon)


THE WALLOWAS: To me, winter in the Wallowas is contemplative. One of the most beautiful, remote and peaceful parts of the state becomes even more so as the chill sets in and snow blankets the landscape. The Wallowas have 18 mountain peaks over 9,000 feet, and Hells Canyon is the deepest in North America. Simply put, it’s big country. The intrepid ones among us venture into the backcountry in winter; the rest of us are content to simply hunker down somewhere welcoming and cozy with friends and family, gazing at the massive, snowy beauty of those mountains. Do so from the Outlaw Restaurant in Joseph, the recently reborn Lostine Tavern, or Terminal Gravity Brewing in Enterprise, with a frosty, locally brewed IPA in front of you. (Photo by Leon Werdinger)


CRATER LAKE: Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the snowiest inhabited places on the planet, with an average of 44 feet of snow annually. That means a visit to Oregon’s only national park in winter is a visit to an incredibly unique landscape in its most extreme season. I love the ranger-guided snowshoe trips offered daily on winter weekends at Rim Village. On this two-hour tour, learn about how animals, plants and people survive such harsh winters. From here, the sight of the caldera swathed in snow contrasted with the surreal blue of the lake is simply magical. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures. (Photo by Ian Shive /


THE OREGON COAST: I grew up on the Oregon Coast. And while some people shy away from visiting in winter, for me, a windy and rainy day at the beach just feels like home — and if you visit during these more meditative months, I think you’ll agree. The more rugged, rockier South Coast is my favorite winter destination, where the energy of a stormy sea meets high cliffs in crashing, splashing glory. Great vistas for winter wave watching can be found in Gold Beach, in Coos County at Shore Acres State Park and Cape Arago, and around the wee town of Yachats. But up and down the Coast, you’ll find that nothing tops the energy of the shore in winter — you’ll feel it in your bones and your soul. (Photo by Dennis Frates)


PAINTED HILLS: Confession: Some wintry nights, I dream about the pie at the Sidewalk Café and More in the town of Mitchell. There’s something particularly satisfying about finding a great little eating establishment in the middle of the high desert, and for me, Eastern Oregon is about taking in incredible outdoor vistas in between visits to authentic, down-home diners. Hike the Painted Hills on the Overlook Trail or the Carroll Rim Trail to achieve a great view of the multicolored volcanic ash of the hills while earning your pie in advance. After the exertion, enjoy a home-cooked meal at Sidewalk. Then continue east to explore more of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, or venture west into Prineville for more authentic western dining at hot spots like Barney Prine’s Steakhouse & Saloon or Club Pioneer. (Photo by Tyler Roemer)


THE COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE: In winter the Gorge calls for a road trip. I like to pack some provisions and warm, comfortable clothes and head east from Greater Portland on the Historic Columbia River Highway. Visit Crown Point Vista House for 30-mile views of the Columbia from 700 feet above. If you’re lucky, it’ll be my favorite kind of Oregon winter day, with skies clear, wind whipping and clouds tearing by overhead. You’ll get back in your car feeling totally invigorated. Head on down the highway for short hikes without crowds at Latourell, Bridal Veil, Multnomah and Horsetail falls. End in Hood River for a late lunch at Full Sail Brewing Co. or Celilo Restaurant and Bar, followed by a little small-town boutique shopping before the journey back to Portland. Perfect day trip! (Photo by Alamy Stock)


MT. HOOD: A few years ago, I spent a winter weekend at Timberline Lodge. Not being an alpine skier, I wondered what I’d do with my time. The answer was: Explore the iconic, historic lodge, from the hand-carved newel posts in animal motifs to the exhibit about The Shining in the lobby. Snowshoe up the flanks of the magnificent mountain under a shining winter sun. Sip hot drinks in the cozy Ram’s Head Bar with a breathtaking view of snowy Mt. Hood through the expansive windows. Soak in the hot tub with the smell of subalpine fir and snow on the breeze. Sleep peacefully under a warm, wool Pendleton blanket in a room built from great Oregon conifer trees. Finally, leave rested, happy and with a fresh vision of the beauty and wonder of my home state. (Photo by Timberline Lodge)

For more fun Oregon outings check out Travel Oregon!

Author: Kim Cooper Findling


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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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Music and Nature

13 12 2013

End your week by playing some Brett Dennen in the background while reading his short and sweet article about his connection with Wild Places.  You can find the article on the Patagonia website, here:

“The Cleanest Line”–Patagonia’s blog–features scores of interesting reads that we recommend browsing through.

Might I also suggest a couple of tunes for you while reading?

Enjoy, and have a lovely weekend.

-Michelle Brown, Outdoor Education Instructor

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Play in the Rain Day, November 9th

1 11 2013

Join River House staff and several other partners at Mount Pisgah on November 9th!  While we can’t guarantee rain, we can guarantee that there are plenty of activites for kids, parents, and grandparents. Archery, tree climbing, nature art, and cider pressing are just some of the many offerings this year.  Dress for the weather and be prepared for a busy event–last year, over 2000 folks attended!  Play in the Rain Day is a free annual event from 10am-3pm.  More information below, thanks to




NOV. 9th – 10 am to 3pm 2013

Free Parking Courtesy of Lane County Parks

Come to Mount Pisgah Arboretum’s White Oak Pavilion to join the fun at Play in the Rain Day.  Local outdoor recreation and education organizations will come together to provide fun activities for you and your family.


  • Tree Climbing – Campfire Cookery – Nature Exploration/ Hikes
  • Nature Crafts – Backcountry Horse Demos – Hayrides
  • Smokey the Bear and MORE!!!!



Emerald Back Country Horseman
Demos of horse packing with real horses. Hands on! Come meet the horses!
Forest Service
Demos of horse packing with real horses. Hands on! Come meet the horses!
Whole Earth Nature School
Practice archery with foam-tipped arrows! Check out our nature touch-table!
Join us for a guided nature walk and Scavenger hunt with WREN, BLM, and Forest Service volunteers!
Bones ‘n’ Animal Tracks and Track Crafts! Get to know your furry friends. Check out our cool collection of bones.
Near by Nature
Create art with natural materials! Use small cones, shells, pebbles, lichen, and more to “paint” a temporary picture.
Check out the fire truck! Join us for a guided nature walk and Scavenger hunt with WREN, BLM, and Forest Service volunteers!
Friends of Buford Park
Come along for a hay ride!
Mt. Pisgah Arboretum
Take a guided blind-fold walk and experience nature through your other senses! Try a little fresh apple juice, pressed right before your eyes!
Northwest Youth Corps
Nothing says camping like good ‘ol fashioned campfire cookery! Cook hotdogs or marshmallows over a fire! Visit us inside the pavilion and dress like a corps member!
Come play our Spin the Wheel game and learn about fun and healthy lifestyles!
UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History
Make coil or pinch pots decorated with natural materials!
Camp Fire Wilani

Learn about canoe safety techniques outside, and join us inside to learn to tie knots!


The sky is NOT the limit for enjoying the great outdoors! We hope to see you at Play in the Rain Day.

The Youth in Nature Partnership

Purpose Statement:

The Youth in Nature Partnership is a collaboration of non-profit and governmental organizations committed to increasing opportunities for youth to spend time in nature.

Why We Collaborate:

The partners are concerned about the decline in children spending time in nature. Each organization brings unique resources and perspectives to the partnership and creates opportunities to reconnect children with nature. From nature education to service learning to just having fun, we all value how nature can inspire and teach children.

Current Members:

Bureau of Land Management Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah
Northwest Youth Corps Mt. Pisgah Arboretum
United States Forest Service Willamette Resources and Educational Network
Nearby Nature City of Eugene Recreation Services
Willamalane Whole Earth Nature School

Contact Us:

Learn more about how to get involved with the partnership or to take part in any of our events please e-mail or call:

Jennifer Steimer –
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
541 349 7501

Sara Lausmann –
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
541 344 8350



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Mother’s Day Adventure Challenge

17 05 2012

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day and a host of families celebrated by having an adventure on the Spencer Butte Challenge Course!  Excellent promotion and gorgeous weather contributed to a full class of over 23 people who encouraged each other as they participated with Mom in ground events and activities at heights between 25 and 50 feet off the ground.  SBCC Director Robert Brack says, “Our course provides the environment for groups to challenge themselves and learn while solving tasks on the ground and in the air, all while being  supported and encouraged by others participating alongside you.  What a great opportunity for families to have experienced this activity with each other!”  There will be a Father’s Day event June 17th that will provide another chance for families to experience the Spencer Butte Challenge Course.

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Wildflower Festival Reaching Full Bloom

7 05 2010

I’m looking forward to Sunday May, 16. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mount Pisgah Arboretum, a local nonprofit, is hosting a

Wildflowers soaking up the sun

Mt. Pisgah Wildflower Festival hosted by Mt. Pisgah Arboretum takes place May 16

Wildflower Festival. They plan on having music, food and crafts, not to mention the area’s top botanists to answer questions and share their wealth of knowledge on area flowers. Between 300 and 400 species of flowers will be on display. Guided walks through the arboretum will be an excellent opportunity to learn about the area’s ecological history. It will also be exciting to check out the microscopes available to take a closer look at plants. It’s been a long time since high school biology, and I’m excited to examine the plants. The Web site stated that “nectar glands at the base of the petals really glisten at 100x magnification.”

The arboretum is asking for a five-dollar donation so it is a perfect opportunity to give back to the community while listening to music and learning about nature. The proceeds will go to two worthy causes, the arboretum’s habitat restoration program and environmental education.  This should be fun event for families or a low-cost date. It’s a great way to explore the culture of Eugene while being immersed in the outdoors.

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