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Thread: Dog Floatation

  1. #1
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    Default Dog Floatation

    Thought I'd ask you guys about dog floatation. I wonder how many of you use a PFD-type device for your retrievers and/or at what age did you start using them.

    I've an 8 yr old Yellow Lab. We took him to the cabin lake property this weekend where he did a lot of swimming. My girlfriend was freaking out that the dog was going to drown.

    In one case, he swam out after my son and 3 of his friends (who were in kayaks) about 50 yrds to the floating dock in the middle of lake. Then tried to get on the dock and failed. Then tried to swim circles round the dock and kids. By then we were on shore calling him back. Towards the end of the swim, he looked to be doing a side stroke-head canted 45 degrees, body canted somewhat less.

    In the second case, he kept swimming out after me in my kayak. Tried to get int he kayak, but I pushed him off a few times. He wouldn't go back to shore where my girlfriend was calling him in. He started looking and sounding pretty tired, so I hauled him into the kayak, which promptly flipped. He swam back to shore with me without any problem. Thus ended our swimming for the weekend.

    I happened to have a Mack's Prairie Wings catalog at the cabin, and they sell neoprene vests with sewn in floatation. I've decided to buy one, if no other reason than to give a sense of security.

    I guess my question is do these things work? Do you use them with younger dogs, or am I seeing this need due to my dog's age? From what I've heard at some of the training events this past winter/spring, some folks send their dogs on 100 yrd plus retrieves. Is that just something I shouldn't let my senior aged dog do? Lastly, is there any specific vest some of you have had good use from, or are their features I should look for? (For example: I see a lot of product descriptions that a vest "adds buoyancy" but doesn't list how many lbs of buoyancy like a USCG approved pfd for boaters.

    I plan to order in the next day or two or three and have it fed-exed up. We're going to Tangle Lakes in 2 weeks and the we'll want it by then. (Even though I plan to ptarmigan hunt that week; he'll probably still end up in the water I'm sure.)

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    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    Your lab doesn't need a flotation vest (all his other lab friends would laugh at him), he does need to learn to obey commands to come when called, and you need to not let him swim out to places he will endanger himself by not being able to climp out of the water. You can not teach him to climb a straight up surface like a floating dock that is way above him, to have him swim out there following the kids is putting him in danger of swimming too far and over exerting himself to where he can not swim back home, but if only 50 yds, that should not be the problem, why didn't one of the kids grab him by the nap of the neck and help pull him up? What you really need is a e collar, and the know how to teach him to respond to you on commands rather then swimming into danger. What would have happened if you had been in the icy filled Knik in mid october, duck hunting, and the dog had tipped over your kyak. He would have eventually swam to shore, while you most likely would be killed by a combination of hypothermia and drowning. If you are going to put him in situations you described, the dog has to come when called. The camo hunting vests all the stores sell for dogs, neopreme, will help with flotation and warmth, all you will ever need for your lab. Bud
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    Not only do we use a flotation vest for our dog (100 lb. lab) but we also have ear muffs for her on the airboat. A little added protection surely can't hurt the dog and also makes a great grab handle to latch on to if needed in any situation. They are not miracle swimmers and will try to swim in order to follow their master at times when it isn't appropriate. An obedient dog 100% of the time would be nice but that just isn't the case sometimes. Besides, an accident is an unplanned event and I would hate to drown my dog cause I was too proud to have her wear a vest.
    BK

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    I think we might be talking about the same type of priduct. I was planning to buy a camo pattern neoprene vest with some floatation strips sewn in. I wasn't expecting to buy one of those brightly colored "float coats." (All thought, those look like a great idea, but useless for hunting, so...useless.) Besides, I'm still waiting for Costco to get camo float coats in for me.)

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    It is not likely he will drowned. You might try teaching some obeidence to "Here". Be carful. If he is flipping boats it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Don
    Forgive me for being arrogant. I own 2 Drahthaar's.
    Tundramoor Drahthaar Kennel. Training Versatile Dogs because we hunt it all.
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    I think dogs should wear life vests when out on the water...along with kids & adults to boot. It's usually too late to don a life vest after you hit the water, and in the case of a dog or person falling into swift water, they could get in trouble real fast.
    "Grin and Bear It"

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    maybe we are talking about two different terms for the same thing here. yes, i am all for the neoprene vests that offer flotation and hypothermia protection to dogs (even a few with extra neopreme sewn in). mine will wear one in late season when the water gets cold. i believe i've seen doggie lifejackets that look like they are patterned after child life vest, brightly colored, at least a inch think, straps and belts, on some very small non swimming breeds, but never seen one of those on a hunting dog, at least not yet, and who knows, maybe they are available in camo. Bud
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    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Default camo vest

    Bud,
    We have one in camo and another in blue. Vinyl type material with floatation sandwiched between. A couple grab loops sewn in on the back. It buckles under her chest and under the waist. Probably bought them at one of the big box stores at one time or another.
    She wears the earmuffs and actually enjoys it when on the airboat.
    BK

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    Dog life jackets do indeed come in camo pattern. Nice to have a grab loop on it.

    http://www.backcountryk9.com/Product...FcU5QgodFTkA1w

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    "Grin and Bear It"

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    Quote Originally Posted by akblackdawg View Post
    maybe we are talking about two different terms for the same thing here. yes, i am all for the neoprene vests that offer flotation and hypothermia protection to dogs (even a few with extra neopreme sewn in). mine will wear one in late season when the water gets cold. i believe i've seen doggie lifejackets that look like they are patterned after child life vest, brightly colored, at least a inch think, straps and belts, on some very small non swimming breeds, but never seen one of those on a hunting dog, at least not yet, and who knows, maybe they are available in camo. Bud
    Yeah, we're talking about the same thing. And, this will make you laugh, I already own one. The dog's original owner sent with him two nepoprene camo vests. The one from Cabela's has two floatation (thicker) sections sewn in the sides. We found it in the garage this morning.

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    Member Tearbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akblackdawg View Post
    Your lab doesn't need a flotation vest (all his other lab friends would laugh at him)... Bud
    Gee, I hope no one laughs at me because I wear one. It may not always prevent a drowning, but your chances of surviving are much better if you do wear one...at least chances of finding the drowned victim would increase versus not having a PFD on.
    "Grin and Bear It"

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    Quote Originally Posted by FL2AK-Old Town View Post
    ...this will make you laugh, I already own one. The dog's original owner sent with him two nepoprene camo vests. The one from Cabela's has two floatation (thicker) sections sewn in the sides. We found it in the garage this morning.
    I'm not laughing, if your dog is part of the family, like mine is, you would put the life jacket on him, just like you should for your kid. Also, a panicking dog can drown you just as surely as a panicking person...
    "Grin and Bear It"

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    I strongly recommend neoprene vests with some additional floatation.

    When the water and weather gets real cold during duck season, it will help your dog retain heat.
    If a duck lands way out in cold water, I always feel better knowing the vest is there to help them a bit.

  14. #14

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    Having floatation for your dog is no trivial thing. I have a 90 lb male lab, and he definitely benefits from wearing a neoprene vest with foam inserts. I use an Avery hunting vest (adjusted for his size and build), and I especially notice the benefit in late season when it helps him both stay afloat more easily and stay warm in the cold. Having a PFD-style vest also makes perfect sense in a boat, for the dog's safety, and that of everyone else, as has been mentioned.

    Old Town, to get back to your basic question, if you think your dog can be putting himself at risk by swimming out into the lake, especially with an older dog, why not build a ramp for him to get onto the raft and still enjoy the fun everyone else is having? It sounds like he loves to be in the water, and be near everyone, so why not try and help him out with it?

    As for his 'lab friends' laughing at him, let them laugh. The dog wearing the vest will be hunting a lot longer and in better shape doing it than the dogs without it, and if an accident were to happen, will probably be far better off. Your dog isn't going to care, and it will be far better for him in the long run.

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    I took the dog out to Reflection lake yesterday and put the neoprene vest with the float inserts sewn in on him. To be honest, I didn't see much of a difference in his swimming with or without it. Yesterday afternoon, after visiting Petco, Petsmart, and AK Mill and Feed (only to discover they only stock pfd's for small dogs) I bought one at Sportsman's warehouse.

    It's going to be for general boating/swimming at the cabin lake with the kids only because it's red. I'll use the neoprene for hunting; I wouldn't let him go off on a long swim after a bird anyway. Speaking of which, I ran him in the Field Trial today (first time). That was a LOOOOONG run (land marks). No way I'd be able to shoot a bird that far (waaaay out of shotgun range) nor would I try and, lastly, no way would I send the dog into water across that distance plus the return trip. Heck, a swim like that might be the end of me if I tried it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by miller View Post
    Old Town, to get back to your basic question, if you think your dog can be putting himself at risk by swimming out into the lake, especially with an older dog, why not build a ramp for him to get onto the raft and still enjoy the fun everyone else is having? It sounds like he loves to be in the water, and be near everyone, so why not try and help him out with it?
    That's actually our plan now. We're done with the cabin lake for the year now, but next spring we're building a platform. That, combined with the vest,will let him follow the boys out in their kayaks, get on and off the dock, and swim back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tearbear View Post
    I'm not laughing, if your dog is part of the family, like mine is, you would put the life jacket on him, just like you should for your kid. Also, a panicking dog can drown you just as surely as a panicking person...
    Interesting enough, I paid as much for the dog's life jacket as I did for mine ($75ish) and twice what I paid for my son's.

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    Member JR2's Avatar
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    We have two dogs that come out boating with us all the time, one pug and one 90 lb Malamute/German Sheppard. They both have life vests with grab handles on the backs. We started having the big dog wear one after she decided to swim back to the boat (faster than I could row the raft) and beat us to the boat. She almost drowned trying to get up on the back deck, next trip she had a life vest and has not been back in the water since.

    The dogs are part of the family and we all would be quite sad if we lost one due to us not having a vest for them....
    2007 Kingfisher 2825 - Stor Fisk

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    A note on the neoprene dog vests: Check the fit around the arm pits and inspect your dog for chaffing. I had to trim the opening back a little for my dog.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

  20. #20

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    I have three floatation vests for my german shorthair. He is an excellent swimmer but just doing some tests with him I noticed the floatation added to a neoprene vest is not very signifagant. I just use it for keeping him warm when duck hunting. Now for life vests I have two one NRS i got at sportsmans and one ruffwear from REI. My dog is trained in hand signals while in the water and one day at biglake I noticed when people in the boat jumped in he would want to bring them back. So with some training he is now my rescue swimmer on my ocean boat. The life jackets have handels on them that people can grab to be dragged back and I can load him in the boat easier. For floation the vests are great. They suspend the dog in a natural postion and are not restriction. The also keep me holding on to a strap and him paddling afloat. I swear by them. I prefer the NRS because it fits my dog better but the ruffwear might be better on other dogs. Both are well made

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