They say a dog is man’s best friend, so of course we want to take them everywhere we go—and for many of us, that means getting them out on the water! With a few simple tips, it is easy to make sure that your four-legged friends have a safe and enjoyable boating experience.
Some breeds of dogs are natural swimmers and love going for a dip. For others, it may not be instinctive to them and they will need help getting adjusted. Before taking them out on the boat (even if you don’t plan for your pet to get in the water), consider getting them comfortable first. You can do this with a baby pool, regular pool, or at the water shoreline. Encourage them to play and have fun with floating toys and gradually guide them into deeper and deeper waters.
To prevent them from overheating, make sure they have plenty of clean drinking water available and that it is easy for them to access. Be sure to keep an eye on them for any signs of dehydration. This might include heavy panting/breathing, dry mouth, or sunken eyes. Also, never encourage them to drink water straight from the lake or sea.
Just like humans, some dogs (especially with short hair) can get sunburns too! If you check your local pet store, their are sunscreens available that have been specifically designed for your pet. Boat surfaces can get very hot in the sun, so also consider keeping their feet, protected because they absorb heat through the pads of their feet.
Make sure you walk your dog prior to boarding! Also, remember to bring plenty of doggy bags and paper towels in case of a mishap. Try teaching them to go in a specific spot such as a puppy pad. Planning stops where dogs can get off to relieve themselves is another good option.
Give them their own special space that is out of the way to help them feel more comfortable and get acclimated to the boat. Make sure it is in the shade to keep them cool. Also, give them a chance to become familiar with the boat while it is at the dock before departing.
Even if you consider your dog an excellent swimmer, there are a number of situations where your dog could risk the chance of drowning. Fatigue, high seas, and panic can all put the best swimming dog in the worst of situations. To help prevent this from happening, invest in a PFD for your dog. You can find them available at most pet shops and boating stores. You want to make sure it is the right size so there is no discomfort for your furry friend. Go with the option of lifting handles so you can easily pull your dog out of the water. Also, choose a brightly-colored vest so it is easy to spot if your dog jumps overboard. Pets cannot wave their arms, so it is much harder to spot their tiny head in the water.
By taking a few cautionary measures and planning ahead, you are sure to have a fun and adventurous day out on the water with your pet!