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A Safety Checklist For Bringing Your Dog On A Boat


It is great to go to a lake or the beach on a hot summer day and enjoy boating. One of the best ways to improve your next fishing or sailing adventure could be taking your four-legged partner with you. Your paw friend might bring you luck on your next fishing trip, and you are likely to enjoy sunbathing in the company of your pet and family. Since the sun is at its highest between 10 am and 4 pm we recommend going on the water late afternoon or early in the morning for the most positive experience. Of course, you should always check the weather forecast to avoid any storms or heavy downpours.

Does Your Dog Enjoy Being In The Water?

If your dog already loves swimming he/she is likely to enjoy sailing with you. Alternatively, if your dog is whining, and pacing and his/her tail has been tucked between the legs then you should leave your pet and go out boating alone. If your dog appears cheerful and shows a confident stride then it might be a good idea to go boating with your canine. Please, note that some states and nature reserves may have rules that prohibit dogs from riding on a boat. We would recommend that you check the local rules for carrying a pet on a boat in advance.

Do Dogs Get Seasick?

You might be surprised to learn that dogs get seasick just like humans. A rocky/unsteady ride on the sea and even on a lake/river can make a dog sick. If your dog does not like to ride in the car and gets motion sickness easily then sailing with you is not going to be enjoyable for him/her. You can recognize the symptoms of seasickness in dogs by monitoring for vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling. Please keep a close eye on your dog so that you can take the proper action if your paw friend is not feeling good.

Since you will be out and about then it is a very good idea to have a pet first aid kit with you. We recommend you treat the boating adventure as another long outing. You should have a bottle of sunscreen for yourself and your dog. Do not use the human-grade sunscreen, buy a pet-specific product like this, we recommend going for a spray model as it is the easiest to use, however, a roll-on version or a cream-like version works too.

How To Stay Safe And Comfortable On The Water

We have a few tips we would like to share if you are interested in having a safe and comfortable boating experience with your dog. If your canine has not walked on a dock then we recommend visiting one nearby a few times with your four-legged companion in advance. Take treats with you and invite your pet to follow you if he/she seems unsure. Reward your dog with treats every few paces.

Since you might be bringing baits with you we recommend packing them in a bag that your dog will have a hard time accessing. You may already know that dogs are very curious creatures and new and strange smells are very exciting for them so please keep your baits, hooks, and any potentially dangerous items away from your paw companion.

As mentioned previously, you need sunscreen protection for your dog and yourself. The list of items to bring on your outing continues below:

1. Dog First Aid Kit – we encourage you to carry a first aid kit for your pet in case he/she has a small injury. There are many good kits you can find online and you might want to consult with your veterinarian in advance of your sailing adventure. We recommend the Pawly Pet First Aid Kit as it has almost everything you might need for your dog if he/she is injured. The kit is relatively cheap and 88% of its reviews are 5 stars on Amazon.

2. Bring life jackets for yourself and your dog. We have an article with tips on how to select a good life jacket for your dog, please check it out here. We recommend buying a life jacket that has a reflective strip, a bright color, two handles, and excellent buoyancy. Also, it is best to let the dog wear the life jacket for 5-10 minutes at least 5-6 times on land so he/she can become accustomed to the gear and you can identify any potential problems with the fitting.

3. Make sure you have shade – a blanket, a parasol or a big towel can be used to create shade for your dog if he/she is not handling the sun very well. If your boat does not have any cover for shade then you should be prepared to improvise.

4. Bring plenty of drinkable water – always carry a big bottle of water with you when you are out with your boat. Bring at least 6L of drinkable water with you. If you are going to spend a few hours on the water then you should take into consideration that in the summer months, you may need to drink a lot of water. Of course, you will need to take into account that your dog is going to need water as well.

5. Take pee pads, food, and water bowls for your dog. Your canine might have to relieve at some point so you need to be prepared for that. You want to have bowls for serving food and water to your furry companion. If your dog is unable to use pee pads then take poop bags and be ready to mop up after your pooch.

6. Bring a big towel with you since you might need to dry your dog when he/she comes out of the water.

Optional- bring your dog’s bed on your boat so he/she has a cozy and comfortable spot to lay down and enjoy the scenery with you.

Dog Overboard

Make sure to keep an eye on your dog if you are speeding through the water or if you make sharp turns. Your dog should carry a life jacket in case he/she goes overboard. Even if your dog knows how to swim you should not neglect his/her safety. The life jacket will keep your pooch above the water's surface. If you have followed our advice for the bright color and the reflective strip it should be easier to spot your dog from a distance. The handles on top of the life jacket will make retrieving your dog much easier. If your dog goes overboard, circle around with your boat, turn off the engine and jump in the water to collect your canine. If you can – use the handles on the life jacket.

We recommend checking your dog for any cuts or bruises he/she may have received when falling out of the boat. Move your hands softly across your dog's body and if he/she whines when you touch a particular spot you may want to go visit a veterinarian for a quick checkup. If your dog has any cuts use the dog first aid kit to bandage the body area if possible. Of course, you will need to see a vet if there is an injury.