What to know about boating with dogs

Adventure 2 min read

You’ve figured out how to take your dog everywhere with you, but you’ve yet to take them out on a boat. In addition to boating essentials, you’ll have to bring some extra equipment when taking a dog on a boat to keep them safe and secure. Here are six dog boating safety tips for a happy boating excursion.

Safety tips for boating with dogs

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 with your dog in the boat without turning on the motor. The next time you take your dog on the boat, turn on the motor but stay at the dock. Taking things slowly helps gradually build their sea legs.

2. Train to prevent going overboard

To keep dogs on a boat safe, 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

Dogs on a boat should wear pet life vests with hand grips on top so you can easily grab your pet. Hand grips make it easier to snatch them from the water if they accidentally fall in or need assistance getting into the boat.

4. Provide potty breaks

When taking your dog on a boat, remember to stop periodically along the shoreline so your dog can take a potty break. For boaters who live on their boat for days at a time and can’t get to land, designate a specific potty area on the boat. Use a grass-like turf with a canine-beckoning scent that you can easily wash with a hose.

5. Prevent your dog from slipping

Provide non-skid flooring onboard to keep your dog’s footing steady. Additionally, don’t let your dog on a boat without close supervision — and keep them on a leash when needed.

6. Know the location of the nearest vet

Note the closest veterinary clinic if your dog gets sick or injured while boating. If you plan a multi-day boat trip, research the nearest veterinary clinic at each harbor.

Having dog insurance can protect you and your pet in case of an emergency on the water. Learn more about how much pet insurance costs.

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