Tips For Boating with Your Pets

I don’t know about you, but my favorite fishing buddy is my dog.  He keeps my secret fishing spots “secret” and he never cast over me... ever!  Let’s face it, our pets are family and no wants to leave them home alone.  That being said, not all pets enjoy boats and the water.  Most dogs love that feeling of wind blowing in their faces and the stimulation of being outdoors.  Who would’ve thought?  These days my old boy isn’t too crazy about the water, but we’ve had some great days on the water together. 

Just like when you take our kids out on the water, there are some basic tips you should know when boating with your pets to keep them safe.   Here are some tips that I’ve gathered from my own experience and research I have done over the years.  Hopefully this will get you pointed in the right direction. 

shamus petGetting comfortable with your boat.  Like, I said not all dogs like the water, so you can take them shoreline fishing or even just down by the water for a walk.  See how they respond to the water. If your dog is okay with the water, then test out the boat.   Let your dog get acclimated to your boat at the dock.  Walking on a floating dock for the first time can be awkward for them.  Think about how your dog will be able to get in and out of your boat at the doc.  They may need some help. 

Dogs can wear life jackets too!  I can’t stress this enough, ALL dogs can benefit from a life jacket.  Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, it only takes a strong current or some choppy water to pull them under.  Life jackets have handles so you can grab onto your dog and pull them out if need be.  It’s a good idea to let your dog take a swim with their life jacket on in shallow water, so they can get used to it.

Dog Overboard!  Make sure you have a well thought out plan if your dog does fall overboard.  Fill everyone in that will be with you so that no time is wasted. Also, make sure that you have identification and a phone number attached to your dog’s collar and life jacket, if possible.

This is not a puppy marathon.  It’s best to start off slow, so your do can get used to the boat’s movements.  Keep an eye out for motion sickness, yes dogs can get it toot.  If it persists speak to your Veterinarian. 

boats pet lifevest

Safety First.  All boats should be equipped with a first aid kit.  Make sure you have some key first-aid items for your pet(s).  Here’s a great list from the Humane Society for pets.

How about a drink?  Don’t forget to bring along some water and a bowl if your pet is going to be out in the sun for a while.  You can even purchase a collapsible water bowl to keep tucked away on the boat. In addition, make sure to provide shade for them.

Sun protection.  Yes, even dogs can get a sunburn.  I myself never realized it, but one day, I noticed my dog’s belly had gotten a little sunburnt while we were outside by the pool for the day.  Look for ones without Zinc Oxide, it can be harmful to pets when licking it.  Natural Dog Health Remedies has a list of different options with ratings.  Boat surfaces can also get very hot, so watch out for those areas so your pet doesn’t burn their feet.

Eye protection.  Relax, I’m not talking about polarized Costa Del Mars.  Bass boats travel at high speeds and it only takes one small particle to cause an eye irritation.  In addition there’s twice the amount of sun rays reflecting off the water.  Some doggie eyewear can cut down on the rays and protect them from your crazy hookset gone wild.  Doogles offer some good options.

boat pet lake

When Nature calls and I’m not talking about Ace Ventura.  Once your pet has become a more experienced boater and can stay out with you for long periods of time, they will need to relieve themselves.  Pets can be trained to go on the boat in designated areas.  Bring wee-wee pads, carpet scraps (not my favorite) or artificial grass, which you can buy at a Home Depot.

When out there with your beloved pet, know their location at all times and keep an eye out for any strange behavior.  Most of all just use common sense.  It’s just like taking your kids out on the boat.  When in doubt about something, talk to your Veterinarian or other experienced boaters, they can usually help. I can assure you that you will have a great time out there with your furry friend.