boating with a dog

Boating with Dogs: 6 Tips for Taking Your Dog on a Boat

Written by Boatsetter Team
August 9, 2023

Last Updated on September 28, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

There’s nothing more fun than bringing your four-legged friends along with you on a boat trip. 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. Here is six tips for taking your dog on a boat:

  1. Invest in a dog life jacket
  2. Let your dog get familiar with the boat before leaving the dock
  3. Bring a first-aid kit for you & your furry first mate
  4. Bring ample fresh water for drinking
  5. Don’t forget: Doggy sunscreen
  6. Plan for potty time

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1. Invest in a dog life jacket

dog life vest

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. Let your dog to get familiar with the boat before leaving the dock

Just like some people experience anxiety when doing something for the first time, our pets do, too! That’s said, it’s crucially important to take it slow. Before you take your dog out for the first time, let him/her check out the boat while it’s not underway. If he/she seems cool with it, you may want to start up the motor to get him accustomed to the sound of it. Same goes for cats.

3. Bring a first-aid kit for you & your furry first mate

Keep a first aid kit onboard 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.

Pro tip: When browsing through boat rentals on Boatsetter, make sure to scroll all the way down to the Things to know section of the boat profile to find out if the rental allows pets.

4. Bring plenty of water for drinking

bring your dog water for the boat

Whether or not the boat has an indoor area, get ready to get a significant amount of sun. Especially if you plan on staying out a couple hours, it’s important to pack essentials like water! 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: Doggy 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. But also make sure to check the ingredients to get the most ‘lean’ sunblock cream. And, reapply often! Here are a few recommended pet sunblock brands to try out:

  • Epi-pet
  • Emmy’s
  • Petkin

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

Celebrate National Dog Day on the water

On August 26th every year, people who adore dogs worldwide unite to celebrate National Dog Day, which recognizes the exceptional friendship between humans and their beloved canine companions. This special occasion is a chance to acknowledge the devotion, affection, and camaraderie that dogs provide in our lives.

Why not gift your furry friend this National Dog Day with a boat adventure for you both? Combine your love for boating with the pleasure of spending quality time with your four-legged pal to create cherished memories that’ll last a lifetime.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in August 2021 and updated in August 2023.

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