5 must-haves for a day at the lake with your dog

By Jackie Dreyer

Editor's note: This is a guest post written by Mat Coulton, owner of Wiley Pup.

If you have a canine glamper on your hands, enjoying the outdoors can be twice as fun—especially if you have boating and swimming on the agenda. Getting ready for your adventuresome vacation, however, does require a little extra planning for your canine companion when you're planning to spend a day at the lake.

Here are 5 must-haves for enjoying the water with your furry friend.

1. The essentials: A dog's eye view

Any outdoor adventure is better when you pack the right gear. When it comes to enjoying the water with your dog, there are some unique needs that are easy to overlook. Be sure you think through the trip from your dog's perspective and cover these basics.

Collapsible water bowl

It's an easy thing to forget, but your dog can't drink from your canteen. Even if the lake is freshwater, it's also not a good idea to let your furry companion drink from it. In fact, some types of algae are downright toxic! Make sure to pack a collapsible water bowl so your dog can enjoy plenty of cool fresh water and ward off potential dehydration.

Waterproof bag

Keep treats and other snacks dry while canoeing or kayaking with your pooch in a waterproof bag. A day full of swimming and boating burns a lot of calories—probably more than your dog is accustomed to. Just like you, they are probably going to be ready for a small mid-afternoon snack to keep going on high octane. Remember to keep feedings small when your dog is active to avoid the potentially life-threatening condition known as bloat.

Extra towels

Easy to forget, but absolutely essential: extra towels. Your pooch won't mind if they get the towel with a big tear in the corner from that time it got partially eaten by the dryer....just so long as they don't have to share! (And really, who wants to layout on a beach towel that smells like wet dog?)

First aid items for dogs

You probably have people first aid covered; however, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has put together this list to make sure you have any possible dog emergencies covered, as well. A few essential first aid items for dogs that probably aren't in your regular kit include:

  • 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Milk of Magnesia
  • Muzzle
  • Extra leash
  • Vet information and prescription list
  • Pet digital thermometer (They go higher than those used for people.)
  • Animal Poison Control phone number (888-426-4435)

2. Canine life jacket: Safety gear for Fido

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are natural swimmers. Admittedly, some dogs can't swim at all! While there are always exceptions to the rule, breeds that are notoriously bad swimmers include bully breeds (bull dogs, pit bulls, terriers, and more), basset hounds, dachshunds, and pugs and other Brachycephalic breeds.

Even if you have a strong swimmer on your hands, it is advisable to fit them with a dog life vest if they will be joining you on the boat. The reason for this is that it can sometimes be difficult to get a dog back in the boat if they jump out. They may make a beeline to the shore, not realizing it is too far for them to be able to swim. Better safe than sorry!

3. Saddlebag harness: Let your pooch carry the load

Many lakes offer hiking trails to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors from dry land. If you plan to take advantage of them, consider investing in a saddlebag-style hiking harness for your dog.

They come in many styles designed to provide your dog with balanced comfort for both short and long hikes. Roomy pockets on either side of these adventure harnesses allow you to pack items, such as ponchos, treats, kibble, portable water bowls, leash, sunscreen, and anything else that may come in handy on the trail.

Be sure that you keep an eye towards matching your dog's fitness level with the amount that you pack him up with. In addition, try to balance the load left to right for comfort and safety. Finally, take the harness off on breaks to make sure your dog has a chance to cool off, especially in warm, humid weather.

4. The right stuff: The best waterproof toys

Sure, a tennis ball might be your dog's go-to in the backyard, but it won't do for shoreside games of fetch. First, they get waterlogged and nasty. More importantly, they will eventually sink if they get punctured.

Floating skipping stones

These floating stones by Kurgo have the built-in advantage of flat sides, just like river rocks, so that you can skip them along the surface of the water with each toss. It makes a fun game even more fun by getting your dog's two-legged companion involved in the challenge.

Floating disc

If you have a Frisbee fanatic by your side (Border Collie parents especially), you may be disappointed to find out that most flying disks will turn over and sink in the water. The Zogoflex by West Paw solves that problem.

Dog float lounger

Finally, if you plan on whiling away a summer day floating on the lake, make sure you don't have to leave your dog waiting back on the shore. This innovative dog flotation device is made with durable fabric that is built to withstand dog claws. Plus, it folds up easily to take up very little room in the trunk.

5. Campfire bliss: visibility after hours

One last thing to consider that many pet lovers leave off their glamping list? Nighttime visibility. You'll have a flashlight to make it from the campfire to the cabin, but your four-legged friend will be using all four of his or her hands for walking.

Luckily, LED technology has made illuminated dog harnesses a relatively inexpensive piece of must-have outdoor gear for your pooch. Lasting 12 hours or more on a single charge (via USB cable), you'll get peace of mind when you're able to keep track of your dog when it's time for s'mores and ghost stories.

Note that this harness is water-resistant, not waterproof. While it isn't safe to go swimming with your dog after dark anyway, just be aware that this harness is not the right choice for an afternoon swim on the lake.


Mat Coulton was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, and grew up with dogs from young on. He decided to combine his business education, entrepreneurial experience, and love for dogs to create Wiley Pup. For more on Mat and Wiley Pup, visit their website and Facebook pages!