7 Safety Tips for Boating with Dogs


Before your weekend boating adventures get too ruff, it’s important to think ahead and treat your best furry friends just the same as you would a family member. After all, they have much less that they can do about any incident that could happen to them while on board.


1. Wear Your Canine Life Vest

My first bit of advice would be to purchase an adequate and appropriate doggy life vest. You’re not going to outfit a tea-cup Pomeranian into a vest designed for a 65 lb. Australian Shepard – nor are you going to squeeze that same Aussi into the former – chose weight-appropriate dog life vests. Most all of them have adjustable straps as well as a durable handle on the back for you to lift them by. You should also check the buoyancy rating for the jacket according to your dogs weight. You dog may fit into a vest but sink because they’re too heavy for it, indicating that you might need a more buoyant dog vest or else a size up.



I would also strongly recommend to have them practice swimming in their vest. I can’t tell you how many boat owners I talk to who tell me their dogs have never touched the water yet find themselves on a boat all the time. It’ll be much better for both of your stress levels if they’ve had some type of exposure, actually utilizing that vest they’re wearing.


3. Keep Your Dog Hydrated While Boating

Dog’s, even more so then people, need to stay hydrated, especially while out on the water. Don’t forget to have them drink a little while at the dock so they get used to drinking while rocking. I add a little Pedialyte in my dogs water to replenish his electrolytes if I know we’re going to be out for a full day.


4. Dog Overboard!

What if your dog falls in while underway? Having a dog-overboard plan is a must. Much beyond dropping your favorite hat in the water, if Skipper falls in, the Williamson Turn is always the USCG’s recommended maneuver.  And remember, practice makes perfect – without actually using your dog, you can toss over a fender and circle back around for it.


5. Small, Sharp Objects

Considering that you’ll probably be using your new boat for different water activities, remember to clean the floor and seats of anything sharp that could hook your furry friend. Also keep in mind that because you’re on an object that moves, things may dislodge and fall out of compartments so, always keep a running check on your environment.


6. Fake Grass

I taught my dog to relieve himself on fake grass at home. That way, when we go boating, I bring the same fake patch of grass and when he needs to go, he goes.


7. Make it Cozy

Most importantly have fun and create a warm environment such as you would your home. A nice blanket goes a long way when they’re out of their element. And if your dog is anything like mine, eventually he’ll be hopping on the boat before you!


Written by: Capt. Greg Thornton | Professional Captain Services

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