Boating with Dogs: 6 Tips for Taking a Dog on a Boat
There’s nothing more fun than bringing your four-legged friends along with you on boating trips. Most dogs love the water almost as much as they love being with their people. Before you head out onto the lake, river or bay, there’s a few things you can do to ensure your pet has a best experience possible while out on the water.
Follow these six tips when boating at dogs to keep your furry-first mate safe and happy onboard.
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1. Invest in a dog life jacket
If your dog isn’t a natural swimmer, and even if he is, a life jacket will provide peace of mind for everybody. Canine life jackets are made of high-floatation neoprene or nylon, and they feature reflective trim, rescue handles and leash rings. If your local pet supply store doesn’t carry pet life jackets, check out West Marine or a website such as Outward Hound, Overton’s, L.L. Bean and SwimOutlet.
2. Allow your dog to get familiar with the boat before leaving the dock
Before you take your dog out for the first time, let him check out the boat while it’s not underway. If he seems cool with it, you may want to start up the motor to get him accustomed to the sound of it.
3. Carry a pet first aid kit in case of emergencies
Keep a first aid kit on board just in case your dog steps on a sharp shell or decides to take on a marine animal. In addition to the basic supplies like gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, scissors and tweezers, consider items such as hydrogen peroxide, extra towels, ear cleaning solution, styptic powder, a flashlight and needle-nose pliers.
4. Bring along fresh water for drinking
Bring along a water dish and extra drinking water so that your dog always has fresh water to drink. Even if you’re boating on a fresh water lake, it’s never a good idea to let your pet drink from the lake.
5. Don’t forget the dog sunscreen
Yes, even pets need sun protection. Dogs with short hair or light skin, such as white boxers, are especially susceptible to sunburn. Sunscreen with SPF-15 is a good choice for most dogs. Be sure to reapply often.
6. Plan for potty time
Whether you’re on land or in the middle of the lake, when a dog’s gotta go, a dog’s gonna go. An ideal situation would be to train your dog to go on puppy training pads in a certain spot on the boat, but we all know that’s not always going to go exactly as planned. Be sure to take lots of pet waste bags along with you on your boating adventures. Paper towels and odor neutralizer are also good items to have on board. Take along some odor neutralizing trash bags, the kind you use in your kitchen trash can, to dispose of everything until you’re near a proper trash receptacle.
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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2021 and updated in August 2022.