Boating With Dogs

All Paws on Deck!

Let’s go boating with dogs! There’s nothing as special as those boating days filled with laughter under the summer sun, so it makes sense you’d want to share those days with your four-legged best friend. Creating memories with your pup is important, and you know they love the fresh lake smells and the wind in their face. Some boaters and hesitant to bring their pets aboard, understandably. After all, the most important thing for any owner is keeping their dog safe. We have some tips for you to ensure the safety of man’s best bud while out on the water, and make it an enjoyable experience for all involved.

Get them a life jacket

It looks adorable and silly, plus it prevents them from sinking if they go overboard. Win-win. Your dog still needs one, even if they’re a strong swimmer. There could be strong waves or an undercurrent that pulls your pup under. Acquiring the right size is important, as a lifejacket too small will cause discomfort, and a size too big your dog might slip out of. Sizes are typically measured by weight, but you may also measure chest and neck size as well as length, especially if you are ordering online. Test it in shallow, controlled water like a pool or at the shore before using it on a boating trip. Some life jackets have handles to assist in lifting them up, a very useful feature we’d recommend. Get one in a bright color so they can easily be seen.

Start out slow

New places can be overwhelming for dogs. A new place that’s moving through water at a high speed and making noise is even scarier. Introduce the boat to your dog while it’s still docked. They’ll become acquainted with it in a less high-stress situation. The last thing you want is for your dog to freak out while on the water. Reward them with treats when they react calmly. Many dogs don’t like slippery surfaces, so if you can put down a mat for them, it eases their anxiety, even if it’s just to board the boat. When it’s time to take off, remember your dog may not have as much composure and stability as you, so go slow on the acceleration.

Prevent dehydration, sunburn, and seasickness

Pups need sun protection, too! Don’t use human sunscreen on your dog, though – there are special brands made specifically for canine friends. SPF 15 should suffice – your vet should be able to recommend a good one. Just like people, dogs can get seasick, so watch for signs of nausea and dizziness. If this is a persistent issue, seasickness medications are available. It’s important to make sure your dog gets plenty of shade and water on the boat! Provide a tarp, umbrella, or something similar if your boat model doesn’t naturally provide shading, and set out a portable pet bowl full of fresh water for them. This may go without saying, but do not let your dog drink the lake water. It can be full of various organisms and pollutants.

Make sure to clean up

Even if it’s only a short boat ride, your dog may need to go, and when nature calls, it waits for no one. Bring a doggy bag in case you need to pick up after them, and provide a pee pad if you have any. There’s no guarantee you’ll always be able to pull over to shore for potty breaks, so investing in pad-training your dog is a wise decision.

Create a dog overboard plan

Before leaving on the trip, make sure ID tags are attached to the collar or harness. Hopefully, you will be paying enough attention to catch your dog before they go overboard. If not, spotting them is the next most important step! A pet being lost at sea because the owner didn’t notice they fell off the boat is nothing short of a tragedy! If your dog goes overboard, immediately stop the motor to prevent injury. Coax them back to the boat and lift them back up when they are close enough. Don’t jump into the water! Not only can it cause them confusion or panic, but they may also drag you down while struggling to stay afloat.

Remember to have fun!

There’s tons of fun to be had in the water: playing fetch by the shore, relaxing in a pet pool lounger, and diving from a dock. The time you spend on the boat will be some of your dog’s fondest moments! Just make sure that safety comes first, and play comes second. Talk to us here at Lakeshore Marine Group about the best boat options for you and your boating buddy. We have some personal experience!