Summer is quickly coming to an end, so it’s time to get in as many boat days as you can before the cold creeps up on us all. And what could be better than a summer boat day? A summer boat day with your pup! However, a day out on the water with your dog can turn into a disaster if you’re not prepared for emergencies. Here are 11 tips for boating safely with your dog:
1. Visit the Boat
Let your pooch get acquainted with the boat before taking them out on the water. Let them explore while it’s docked or on the trailer so that they can sniff around and get used to their surroundings in a safe and secure environment.
2. Double Check Identification
Make sure your cell phone number is on your pet’s tag in case your dog decides to jump off and swim away (it’s more common than you think). It’s also a good idea to consider getting a microchip embedded beneath the dog’s skin. These chips are part of registries and can be read by vets in case your pup finds himself lost.
3. Bring a First Aid Kit
Make sure you’re prepared with a stocked, pet-specific first aid kit in case of emergencies. It should have things like an antibiotic ointment for minor scrapes and any medications your dog might need. Dramamine is a good item to bring in case your pup gets seasick. It’s also a good idea to come up with an emergency plan in case something does happen.
4. Buy a Life Jacket
It’s super important that your dog wears a life jacket while out on the boat. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Make sure it fits them comfortably and it’s brightly colored. A lot of life jackets come with a handle that makes it super convenient to grab your dog and pull him out of the water. Never pull on your dog’s collar to help them out.
5. Don’t Skip the Sunscreen
Something a lot of people don’t think about for dogs is sun protection. Just like we need protection from the sun’s harmful rays, so do our dogs! Short-haired breeds are especially prone to sunburns. Use a light, unscented SPF 15 spray or find an actual dog sunscreen (they exist!). The most important places to apply it to is the belly and inside the hind legs. Also, protect their feet from any hot surfaces.
6. Consider a Boarding Ramp
If your pet is too large to be carried onto the boat, consider bringing a boarding ramp. The ramp makes it easier for your dog to get on and off the boat, especially if you will be stopping at different docks, sandbars, or beaches during the day.
7. Keep them Hydrated
Going out on the boat all day can get HOT and dogs can overheat pretty quickly! Make sure your pooch has access to as much fresh water as they need and keep a dish out for them all day. Also, don’t let your dog drink from any freshwater lakes. The water is often contaminated and can get your dog sick. Bring fresh drinking water from home.
8. Nature’s Call
If you’re out on the boat all day, your dog will need to relieve themselves somewhere. Take doggie waste bags, paper towels, and odor neutralizer to clean up after your dog. You can even train your dog to use puppy pads while out on the boat to make cleanup even easier.
9. Hide the Hooks
Don’t leave any lures or hooks from fishing rods just swinging around. The dangling temptation of a sharp hook is NOT what you want your pup chasing after. It would mean a trip straight from the boat to the vet, and nobody wants that! Always make sure to hook them onto the pole when you’re not using them. Even the plastic worms without the hooks are dangerous! I know from personal experience. My dog swallowed a whole worm without us noticing one day and he had to have a huge surgery to remove it. So scary and expensive, and it could have been avoided. Also, keep all knives, spearguns, nets, and bait away from your dog.
10. Bring Plenty of Treats
Make sure to bring tons of treats! Reward your dog when he relieves himself on a puppy pad, stays put while you’re setting the anchor, or uses the boarding ramp. Positive reinforcement is the best way to teach your dog how he should act on the boat.
11. Keep it Short
Always keep your dog’s first boat outing short and sweet. Being on the boat is a much different experience than being on dry land and a lot of dogs could freak out from the movement, the smells, and all the chaos that comes with it. And, just like with humans, dogs can get seasick the first few times. Get them comfortable around docks, boats, engines, and hooks before going out for an all-day adventure.
Going out on the boat with your pooch is so much fun and I personally do it all the time with my baby boy! Abide by these simple boating safety tips and you’re in for a summer full of amazing boating adventures with your best friend.