Floating the river with Fido has become a Bend, Oregon tradition. Pictured here: The 2010 Race for the River.

You may call it sort of a tradition around here, but when the mercury rises, Bendites and their mutts make a mad dash for the Deschutes River, hopping on the nearest kayak, paddleboard, inner tube, air mattress, or inflatable to “float the river“.  The crisp mountain waters and leisurely current that wraps around our hometown makes for the perfect Fido-friendly summer activity.

If floating is new to you, consider doing a warm up float sans Fido.  This will help you concentrate on the river and anticipate obstacles for the next time when you bring your dog along.  Look for shallow areas, areas that would make good rest stops for Fido, and dog-friendly put-ins and take-outs.

When you are ready to attempt the float with your dog, arm yourself with a few essentials:

  • A dog lifejacket – to help less agile water dogs swim, and help the endurance of seasoned swimmers.
  • A raft repair kit – because dog nails and inflatables equal popped raft.
  • Dog treats – because swimming makes dogs hungry.
  • A leash – for keeping your dog at bay during put-in and take-out.

Some river-goers opt to put Fido in their float. Others just have Fido float beside them in a lifejacket.

Once on the river, you will need to decide the best location for your dog.  Depending on the type of inflatable and the size of your dog, you may opt to have your dog on the inflatable with you.  Natural swimmers may do just fine swimming alongside you in a float coat, especially on shorter runs where there are lots of banks for your dog to rest.

If your dog is going to be swimming alongside you, it is recommended that their collar be removed prior to the float to prevent snagging on water debris.  You can attach dog tags to the d-ring supplied on the underside of the handle on Ruff Wear lifejackets.

Post-float, you will have a wet, smelly–and very happy–dog.  Protect your car from soggy dog syndrome with a dog bed with a water proof bottom, such as the Flophouse Foam Pad. As for caring for your dog’s lifejacket?  It’s simple: Rinse, shake, repeat!

3 thoughts

  1. Thanks for all the great info to keep our dogs safe and happy during water sports and camping adventures. This is my first summer with my newly rescued Australian Cattle Dog companion. We embark on her first packbacking trip in Yoho National Park, next week, and she is training with her new Palisades backpack and loving it. Great hydration bags. Next purchase will have to be a lifejacket for Tilley, as our family do an annual floating trip down the Pentiction Canal in the sunny Okanagan Valley, BC. I hope to tell you all about our adventures, as they happen.
    Faithful blog reader ~ Trish

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