Tips & Information

How to boat safely with your dog

Written by

Pam Hardman

|

Published on: May 28, 2019

How to boat safely with your dog

There’s no greater feeling than enjoying the Canadian summers out on the water; wind in your hair, and sun on your face. Getting out on the water is fun for the whole family, and can be fun for your pet too, as long as you take some extra precautions.

What to pack

  1. A life jacket. Even though dogs can be good swimmers, even the best swimmers can run into trouble if they’re exhausted or if they’re in rough or cold water. A life jacket can not only help keep your dog afloat, but most dog life jackets are equip with handles that make it easier for you to lift your dog on board.

  2. A water bowl. Generally speaking, you should always have water available for your dog. Plus, having plenty on hand can discourage your dog from drinking from a stream, pond or lake where waterborne parasites that make your dog sick can live.

  3. Waste bags and puppy pads. It can be helpful to train your dog to go on a puppy pad while on board. If this isn’t something your dog is comfortable with and you plan on being on board for hours at a time, it’s a good idea to plan a trip ashore so he can relieve himself.

  4. Sunscreen. Believe it or not, light-coloured and thin-haired dogs are susceptible to sunburns. Apply a baby sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to his ears, bridge of nose and anywhere else where skin shows. Just make sure you never use a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide on your dog as it’s toxic for dogs.

On board the boat

Dogs are naturally curious and they usually love to have the wind in their face. They may be used to having their head out of the car window but on a boat, they aren’t enclosed and are much more susceptible to motion. Make sure your dog isn’t standing on the bow as a large wave or change in direction could cause him to fall overboard. The safest place for your pup when the boat is moving is on the floor near your feet. You may also want to keep a leash on him just in case an exciting sound or smell gets his attention, you can help control his movements and keep him safe.

If you’re anchored with the engine off, and you want to take a dip, just remember, the same rules apply for your dog as would for your children. Never just throw your dog into the water and always keep an eye on him, even if he’s wearing a lifejacket.

Plan, plan and plan some more

  • Visit the boat with your pup before the trip. Make sure he feels comfortable and doesn’t have anxiety around the water.

  • Develop a plan in case your pup goes overboard. Once you have a game plan, share it with everyone on board so they know what to do in case of an emergency.

  • Keep a first aid kit on board at all times, for humans and pets alike.

Want to share information about boating with your dog with others? Share these tips on Facebook or Twitter.

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