Dogs bring us such joy in our daily life. So naturally, we want to take them with us for various activities, such as running, biking, and even boating! Of course, safely taking your dog for boating requires planning. But the effort you need to spend is necessary to ensure that your puppy is safe, healthy, and comfortable.
Is it safe to take my dog on a boat? It’s a reasonable question. There are so many things that could go wrong if your dog isn’t trained for a boat journey or you’re inadequately stocked for the ride. Your dog could fall sick or fall overboard and drown. To avoid such horrid outcomes, you need to start preparing. Before you do anything else:
- Make sure your dog is well acquainted with the boat and being on the water, in general.
- Please bring it to the boat when it’s docked on a calm and sunny day.
- Let your dog know how it feels to be on the boat. You can also teach some commands during this time.
After that, please proceed with the steps I mention below. Plan meticulously, and you will have nothing to worry about when you take your dog boating with you.
Practice an Emergency Plan
This might sound morbid, but it’s best to prepare for the worst-case scenario. For whatever reason, if your dog falls into the water, you need to have a plan in place to get it out of the water and back into the boat safely. For this reason, I would recommend never taking your dog boating unless it is safely wearing a canine life jacket.
If your dog is wearing a life vest, it automatically becomes 50% easier for you to execute the rest of the plan. Remember, never jump in after your dog has fallen into the water. Turn back the boat if you’re already a bit too far away from where your dog fell. Cut the motor before there’s a chance your dog may be hurt by it. Then, call your dog to the boat.
To make sure your dog comes to the boat when you call it, you might have to teach it a new command, which we will talk about later. Once your dog comes to the boat, use the handles in the life jacket to lift it into the boat. Never grab the collar. Please make sure everyone on the boat knows the procedure so they don’t do something wrong while you’re trying to get the dog out of the water.
Know the Local Laws
Check the local laws of the place where you plan to go boating. Regulations can vary from state to state, and it’s better to know about them beforehand. More importantly, if you’re crossing international lines, be extra vigilant.
Stock Up on Proper Accessories
As your dog will be on the boat for a prolonged time, you’re going to have to make it comfortable. Some simple accessories are needed to make your dog settle in the boat and make it safe. Here are the things I regard as necessary-
Just because you’re surrounded by water doesn’t mean your dog should drink from the water body; that’s just asking for trouble. You need to stock up on clean drinking water for the humans and also the dog. Aside from that, it would help if you also had a dog bowl.
You can’t just take your dog’s regular dog bowl with you on a boat. Any typical bowl will tip over and spill the water all across the deck. It’ll be a nuisance and might even cause someone to slip on it. It would help if you had a dog bowl that would not tip and perhaps have a non-slip textured bottom. You could also look into collapsible bowls.
If you have a small dog, it’s better and safer to carry it to and from the boat. However, you can’t do that with a large dog. What you’ll need, in that case, is a ramp that helps your dog get on and off the boat.
The pet ramp should be soft on your dog’s paws, and it should also be anti-slip. For the wet environment, it should also be rust and corrosion-resistant. Finally, make sure that it can carry your dog’s weight and does not accidentally detach from the vessel.
When you take your dog out for a boating trip, the dog may get excited and jump into the water at some point. It’s completely fine to let your dog play in the water with other humans, but how will you get it back on board? That’s where you need a ladder.
A ladder helps your dog to get out of the water and into the boat safely. Of course, you’ll have to teach your dog a verbal command, so it knows when to use the ladder and get back to you. But it’s much better than trying to grab a soaking wet and slippery dog into the boat by yourself.
Even though I’m mentioning this item quite late in the list, it’s an essential item when it comes to boating with a dog. You might think that dogs are naturally adept at swimming, but that’s not so for all of them. Some dogs don’t like being in the water and aren’t all that good at swimming.
In addition, brachycephalic dogs are at more risk because of their short snout and general breathing issues. So investing in a life jacket or vest is a good idea. The most important feature to consider, in my opinion, is for the jacket to have handles. In case your dog goes overboard by accident, you can pull the dog up using the handles.
It should also be able to keep your dog’s head above water. Unless it does that, the jacket isn’t worth your money. Of course, it should also be comfortable so your dog can walk, run, eat, sleep and go to the toilet while wearing it. It also helps if the jacket is brightly colored and has reflective trim.
Portable Pet Potty
If you give your dog proper attention, you’ll see that they are very particular about where they go potty. If you take them on a boat trip, then they will inevitably be stressed about it. Even if you take frequent trips to the shore for a potty break, it’s best to have a portable potty on board.
Pet potties suitable for a boat should have a non-slip bottom and a mechanism in place for odor reduction. It should also have a system that helps you dispose of the excreta quickly. Before you go on the trip, make sure your dog is well acquainted with the potty and comfortable using it.
You’re going on a short trip. Do you need a bed for your dog? The easy answer is- yes, you do.
When you’re on the boat, it’s a potential hazard if your dog is running around. The dog might distract the people working in the boat, and it can even fall off the boat. So sometimes, you might have to command your dog to stay put in a particular space. That’s when the bed comes in handy.
You could tell your dog to stay on the bed. So it should be a comfortable place for the dog. For use on the boat, you can’t use a cot-style bed. It should be a mat or pad with a non-slip bottom, and also one that’s waterproof and easy to clean.
Yes, your dog needs sunscreen too. Your dog’s whole body isn’t covered with fur. There are places like the nose, belly, and ears that can quickly get sunburnt. Sunscreen is even more critical for breeds that have less or little fur.
When you’re thinking about getting sunscreen for boating with a dog, you should get a waterproof one so it doesn’t get washed off when your dog is playing in the water or gets splashed. Also, it should be easy to apply and non-toxic for pets.
Craft a Doggy First Aid Kit
If your dog falls ill or gets injured while you’re out there boating, where are you going to find a vet? It’s best to have a first aid kit handy. Some of the components are similar to what you’ll find in a typical first aid kit, such as-
- Non-stick bandages
- Adhesive tape
- Cotton balls
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Antibiotic spray/ointment
- Milk of magnesia
- Digital thermometer
- Magnifying glass
However, you also need to add some things specific to your dog’s needs, including-
- Soft muzzle
- Leash and collar
- Any medicine that your dog has to take regularly
- A copy of your dog’s medical history
Brush Up on Basic Commands and Teach New Ones
Your dog must remain obedient and docile when on a boat to avoid mishaps. For that reason, you should brush up on typical commands such as sit, lay down, come, stay, fetch, etc. On top of those, you should also teach some commands specific to a boating trip. For example:
- Teach your dog to get in and out of the boat using a ramp
- Teach them to go to a specific place in the boat
- Call your dog to you or the boat while it’s swimming
- Playing fetch in the water
You can teach your dog all these and more for a smooth sailing experience! Remember always to use positive reinforcement, be patient, and use lots of tasty treats as a reward.
Safely taking your dog for boating doesn’t have to be an arduous task if you follow the steps I’ve explained already. However, don’t neglect planning because it could be the line between your dog’s safety and a fatal accident.