7 Tips for Safe Boating with Dogs

7 Tips for Safe Boating with Dogs

Author WDF Staff


In the summertime, when the weather is fine (!), we seem to be drawn to water. Humans love swimming and all sorts of different water activities. It is one of the best ways to quickly cool down during the hot summer days. A very popular activity we love is boating. However, if you want to include your dog in your boating activities, you need to make sure you do that safely.

If you’re a boating dog owner, it is a good thing you are looking into safe ways to include your dog. You don’t want to risk your dog’s well-being because of a lack of preparations. The good news is that if you follow World Dog Finder’s few simple safe dog boating tips, your furry buddy can join in on all the fun you will have on a boat. Here are our 7 tips for safe boating with dogs;

1. Train your dog

The first tip for safe dog boating starts away from a boat. Untrained dogs and those that can’t follow basic commands like “Sit,” “Stay,” or “Down” has no place being on a boat. In fact, boating can be very dangerous for humans that don’t know the boating rules. Your dog has to obey all of your commands for boating to be safe.

dog with a lifejacket

After you make sure your dog can follow basic off-boat commands, you should teach them new ones. You should have a designated “doggy space” where your dog can go while you’re on the move. You should teach the dog when to jump on dry land, how to safely get on and off the boat, and what things they shouldn’t do (like jumping on the edge or climbing to unsafe places).

2. Water

If you’re planning on spending a long time on the boat and you planned out a day trip, you have to make sure you bring enough water for yourself and your dog. Dehydration is extremely dangerous for dogs, especially if you’re somewhere in open waters where you can’t get veterinary help fast. Your dog will get hot in the scorching summer sun, so you have to make sure they always have a fresh water source where they can drink and cool down a bit.

3. Sun protection

Another thing that could potentially hurt your dog is the hot summer sun. Many dog owners think that dogs can’t get sunburnt because they have hair covering their bodies. However, dogs can quickly get sunburnt if you’re not careful. Their paws, noses, ears, and eyes are particularly at risk. You should take sunscreen with you and protect yourself and your dog from the relentless summer sun. This is especially true for hairless dog breeds like the Chinese Crested or American Hairless Terriers.

rowing with a dog

The second thing you should bring with you is something that will give your dog a shady place where they can rest a bit. You can simply use a sunshade or a small tent. Spending a lot of time in direct sun can be very tiring for you and your dog, so make sure your furry buddy has a shaded place where they can sleep.

4. Don’t forget about potty time

If you’re planning on spending a couple of hours on a boat, you should make a designated potty spot for your dog. You can’t have your dog do their business anywhere they want. It is unsanitary, and it can really stink up the place. There are elegant solutions for your dog’s needs. Get doggy pads or fake grass pads where your dog can go number 1 and number 2. These pads will keep the mess contained and make all of your boating time better, safer, and more pleasant.

5. Emergency plan

There is a good reason why they teach boy scouts to “always be prepared.” That is also true for boating with dogs. You need to have a plan for emergency cases. You need to know how you’ll react if your dog jumps overboard or ends up in the water while you’re boating. Those in charge of the dog have to know what they have to do. One person should steer the boat, and the other needs to keep an eye on the dog. Their small heads are the only thing above the waves, so you have to make sure you don’t lose them. Never jump after the dog. It poses a risk of drowning because even a medium-sized dog can pull you under the surface.

spaniel on a boat

6. Doggy lifejackets

One of the most critical pieces of equipment you have to bring with you is a doggy life jacket. Life jackets are important for humans and dogs. If anything happens, you and your dog can safely stay afloat until you get rescued. Also, if your dog falls overboard, you can be sure they won’t drown. Dog life jackets have handles on top of them, so when your dog comes close to the boat. You can just pick them up. However, make sure you get a dog life jacket that will tightly fit your dog. Too big can slip off, and you won’t help your dog that way.

7. First aid kit for dogs

A first aid kit for dogs should be a part of your emergency plan. You want to make sure you have everything you might need if your dog gets injured or hurt. Boating usually takes you far away from civilization and veterinarians, which means you should be prepared to provide first aid to your dog. Here are some of the things you should include in a dog first aid kit;

  • Roll of gauze
  • Bandages that are specially made to stay on animals
  • A pain reliever that has been pre-approved by your veterinarian for your pet's weight and age
  • Hydrogen peroxide — both for cleaning wounds and for inducing vomiting
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Anti-nausea medicine (again, pre-approved by your veterinarian)
  • A current photo of your pet
  • Plastic bags for picking up after your pet
  • Manual can opener
  • Proof of rabies shots (remember, you're prepared for anything)
  • Extra toys
  • Baby wipes — good for cleaning your pet, and yourself
  • Cleaning wipes and paper towels
  • Extra dog collar and dog leash

World Dog Finder team

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