Dogs go everywhere with us and, during the warm weather, this includes boating. You see dogs on motorized watercraft ranging from sailboats to jet boats and houseboats.
If you plan to take your dog on the water in a boat, here are six tips for a safe and happy boating excursion for all.
1. Assess if your dog likes boating
Not all dogs enjoy boating. Be candid when assessing if your pet wants to cruise as much as you do. Gradually acclimate your pup to boating life. First, spend time in the boat with your dog without turning on the motor. The next time you take your dog on the boat, turn on the motor but stay at the dock. This helps gradually build their sea legs.
2. Train to prevent from going overboard
To keep dogs safe on a boat, train them on basic obedience commands such as sit, stay and come. Also, teach boat-specific commands such as “on boat” and “off boat” so they know when it’s okay—or necessary— to get on and off board. To help your dog get into the boat from the water, show him how to swim to a floatable dog ramp or stairs.
3. Consider pet life vests
Boat dogs should wear pet life vests that feature hand grips on top so you can easily grab your pet. This makes it easier to grab them from the water whether they accidentally fall into the water or simply need assistance getting into the boat.
4. Provide potty breaks
Remember to stop periodically along the shoreline so that your dog can take a potty break. For boaters who live on their boat for days at a time and aren’t able to get to land, designate a specific potty area on the boat. Use a grass-like turf that contains a canine-beckoning scent and can be easily washed with a hose.
5. Remember, slippery when wet
Provide non-skid flooring onboard to keep your dog’s footing steady. Additionally, don’t let your dog venture around the boat without close supervision and keep them on a leash when needed.
6. Know the location of nearest vet
Make note of the closest veterinary clinic in case your dog gets sick or injured while boating. If you plan a multi-day boat trip, research the nearest veterinary clinic at each harbor.