Go Tubing or Rafting With Your Dog
Take your dog river tubing or rafting on a float trip down a calm, shallow river with your family and friends!
The best time to do this is on a hot sunny day. Your dog should love the water or can tolerate being on a moving boat. They should also have basic obedience and good recall so that you can call them to you in a dangerous situation away from any strong water currents or wild animals.
If you are interested in going whitewater rafting or whitewater tubing, please contact the company you will be renting or going with for information.
Related Pawtivities: River Tubing
HOW TO GO TUBING
The best way to go tubing or rafting is with a big group and at least two cars. Park one car at the start of the river drop-off and another at your pick-up point. Shuttle and tube rental services are also available, but check out their policies on dogs before you go. Pick an area known for tubing – check local conditions for shallow water and cleared land or debris along your route. It is generally not a good idea to go tubing in deep water with strong currents or during a thunderstorm.
The best trips come with a little planning and an idea of picnic spots, rest areas, and bathroom spots downstream. Don’t forget to give everyone plenty of time to go ashore to go to the bathroom and to rest.
Depending on conditions, you may find yourself having to get out into the water. It’s common to get stuck in water that is too shallow. You could also get stuck within branches or rocks in the river.
Tubing is easy! Kick back and enjoy nature!
WHAT TO BRING
Before you go, find out if the area you are going to has specific rules on leashes on dogs. It’s a good idea to bring one just in case. A long one is idea so that your dog has more freedom to sunbathe on the raft or swim. You really don’t want him to go ashore without you because it may be difficult to backtrack while you are downstream.
The tubes and rafts that you use for a float trip are much thicker and can hold air longer than a pool tube. Some tubes and rafts have two air chambers making them safer to use in case the outer shell gets punctured. Leave the pool tubes at home. You’ll also want something that is puncture-proof to dog nails, branches, rocks, or other objects that may be in the water.
We do not recommend wearing flip-flops in the water. Water shoes with a thick rubber sole is best to get a secure footing, especially where rocks are covered with a bit of algae.
Pack a cooler with some tasty beverages and food. Please carry your own trash and do not bring glass bottles. Alcohol is not permitted on National Park Service land. Most equipment or service providers will not let you bring alcohol. Remember to tie everything you have to the raft!
Other items you could bring include: Swimming gear, polyester or nylon shirt, hat, towels, dry clothes, water shoes, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, life-jackets, short leash, long leash, poop bags, fresh water, food, first aid kit, puncture resistant tube or raft, backup tube or tube repair kit, emergency poncho, map of river including drop-off and pick-up locations, waterproof bag / dry bag, cooler, rope, plastic trash bags, and other appropriate gear.
Unless you are on a hosted float trip, it’s best to have at least 2 adults with you. You’ll need 2 cars anyway and a buddy to get you out of jam if necessary.
Dogs should have their own tube / raft unless they are small enough to sit on top of you or fit in your raft. If your dog loves swimming, make sure to give him some forced breaks. You don’t want to get into any situation where your dog has over-exerted himself. It’s a good idea to have a safety jacket, harness or life jacket on your dog even if they are a good swimmer. The jacket may end up saving his life and make it easier for you to grab hold of your dog.
Dogs should only drink fresh water. River and lake water are not considered safe drinking water sources as they may contain harmful bacteria and other pollutants. Avoid any animals or standing water that you may encounter. Before you head home, wash your dog off (and inside his ears) with fresh water. Don’t forget to check the paws and look out for ticks or other injuries your dog may have.
As with all things, use good judgement and have fun!
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