It’s a great time to be thinking about going boating with your best four-legged friend! Your dog can enjoy being out on the water as much as you do. Safety is as important for your pup as it is for your human companions, so here are a few tips to ensure that everyone has fun on the water.
Your friends all need lifejackets, and so does Spot. There are several styles available, so you should pick the one most comfortable for your dog. You should look for a jacket with a bright color for high visibility, and one with a handle to give you something to grab onto to haul your dog out of the water. Make sure all the straps and buckles fit in the right places and don’t rub his skin the wrong way; you don’t want him to spend the whole trip trying to chew it off. It’s a good idea to take your dog swimming before your trip to let him get used to the jacket.
Let your dog get familiar with the boat while it’s still on dry land, or while it’s docked, if possible. It gives him a chance to get accustomed to the environment. If he regards the craft as familiar territory, he’ll be less likely to balk during the boarding process. It’s helpful to keep the first outing short. Let Duchess get used to the motion of the waves, and keep an eye out for seasickness. If this appears to be a problem for her, the vet can prescribe medication.
Avoid dehydration by bringing along plenty of fresh water. If you’re hot and thirsty, so is your pup. If you’re going to be out very long, provide some shade too. Some dogs with short hair or minimal hair can get sunburned. If this describes your companion, ask your vet for sunscreen recommendations.
If you’re going on a trip with limited availability to get to shore, you’re going to have to provide a designated area for your dog to take care of business. A doggie potty pad is a good choice, particularly if you’ve already had the opportunity to train him to it ahead of time. (Depending on your boat, the swim platform may be a good place to put this, if you’re at anchor.) Don’t forget the waste collection bags, and paper towels for cleanup.
If your dog has a tendency to try to jump on the dock before you’re safely moored, the simplest solution is to put him on leash before you even get close. If you give consistent correction on this behavior, you can train him to stay onboard until you give the ok for him to exit the craft. The same principle applies for dogs that have a tendency to get too close to the edge of the boat while it’s in motion.
With a little preparation, it’s easy to share the boating life with one of your family’s best friends.