Toronto: Outdoor Adventure … Safe Paddling with Your Dog: Find Out How!

nancy treats
Keeping Nancy happy canoeing in a pool

Doggie paddling is the only way I can swim, and not for very long. (Yes, I took many lessons as a kid and no go. Swimming is simply not in my wheelhouse of skills). But this is not the doggie paddling Preston Ciere was talking about at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show mid-February in 2015.

His presentation – from a canoe floating in an above-ground pool set up at Toronto’s International Conference Centre – is called ‘Doggie Paddling,’ but it’s about canoeing with your dog, something I’ve only done once at Guelph Lake in Ontario.
Bear representing Northern Ontario Travel

Ciere, creator of, is one in a line-up of presenters at this consumer trade show targeted at those willing to add adventure to their travel, whether wilderness or water, and that includes dogs. Bear from Northern Ontario Travel made a booth appearance. And a mixed breed rescue named Nancy, a constant travel companion of Ciere, is floating in a boat, eating pepperette pieces and listening to Ciere offer tips about canoeing with canines.

Preston Ciere’s suggestions for Safe Padding With Your Dog:

  • The dog should be able to comfortably sit low in the canoe (the bigger the breed, the more shift in the boat when they move), so create a bed with packs and sleeping bags.
  • Make the adventure a positive experience, especially the first time – which is why Nancy is eating hand-fed treats during her first public appearance.
  • Bring a first aid kit for the dog that includes gauze, Pepto Bismol, and an antihistamine to counteract bug bites.
  • Put a lifejacket on the dog no matter how silly others think it is. Dogs need lifejackets for the same reason people do: you and your dog might be strong swimmers, but not if you’re dizzy, unconscious or disoriented.
Preston Ciere & Nancy at the Outdoor Adventure Show

Ciere recommends the brand Ruff Wear, which is exactly what I bought for my schnoodle Victor from the clearance bin at Winners for $8. (Hey, Vic doesn’t know it’s bright pink). He also doesn’t know it has handles, which are essential and good for lifting smaller dogs in and out of boats.

To date, I’ve only canoed with Victor once and his favourite part was getting out at shore and running around. (Running around is always his favorite part anytime, anywhere). I did however successfully houseboat with my dog.

However, this is about canoeing. Ciere notes portaging is extremely important because that gives your dog a break from getting bored and makes the journey a pleasant experience, which is ultimately the goal. And swimming – for me anyway – not so much.

For more about Nancy, dog paddling and Ciere’s Outdoor Adventure Show experience

For more about Victor’s recent adventures, click here.

Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and a travel writer for the last two. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America and travels almost weekly with her canine companion, Victoria. Contact Sherri at here. All written content is original, written by a person, and based on experience and research. Please subscribe!


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