Boating With Your Dog: A How-To Guide

While some will argue that any dog can be taught to love the water, there are some breeds that are more likely to take to the wet stuff than others. Before making any big plans, it’s a good idea to ascertain whether or not your dog is cool with getting his paws a little damp. Test his mettle by taking him somewhere safe so that he can get used to splashing around and be honest with yourself. After all, if your dog isn’t having fun, no one is.

Safety First
Even if your dog has repeatedly demonstrated incredible swimming skills, he needs to wear a life jacket. If something should happen and he’s rendered unable to paddle, the life jacket will keep him afloat until help arrives. This is especially important when you’ll be crossing large bodies of water and anticipate being a fair distance from shore.

Practice on Dry Land
Before taking to the open waters, you’re going to want to do a few practice runs to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Get your dog used to wearing his life jacket by putting it on him for short periods of time, gradually increasing the time spent wearing it and offering lavish praise. Teach him to get in and out of the boat, where to sit (or lay down) when on board, and make sure that he’s not liable to try to jump ship. The last thing you want to deal with is unexpected behaviour when you’re trying to enjoy the day so cover your bases beforehand.

Start Slowly
Your dog’s first time on a boat is not the occasion for an all-day excursion. Start slowly by taking him on a short trip to ensure that he isn’t prone to seasickness and so that he’s able to get used to this new experience. Gradually build up the time spent on the water until both you and he are comfortable enough to set out for longer periods.

Practice Sun Safety
Spending a hot summer’s day out on the water is blissful but it’s important to remember that dogs are prone to heat stroke, dehydration, and sunburns just like we are. In order to prevent any hot weather mishaps, be sure to take steps to keep your dog happy and safe. Pack plenty of water and ensure that he drinks frequently, be mindful of hot spots on the boat so that he doesn’t burn his paws, and consider using sunscreen on exposed areas like his nose.

Pay Attention
As relaxing as it is to be out on the water, it’s important to always stay on top of what your dog is doing. After all, it only takes a second for an overly curious pooch to accidentally fall overboard. Always exercise common sense when it comes to taking your dog on a boat. Ensure that he’s under control at all times and be prepared to cut a trip short if need be.