How to be safe on the boat with your dog.

I love to be on the boat in the summer… and so do my dogs. It’s a full sensory experience for them. They love the smells, the wildlife to bark at and all the other boats and boat dogs we pass. A trip up the Crooked River for them is like going to Disney World!

But, planning ahead and getting a few items in advance can make the difference between a safe trip and one that ends in a trip to the vet.

What do you need to do for safe dog boating?

First, get a dog life jacket for every dog on board. Some dogs can swim. Others not so well. My French Bulldog struggles to swim even a few feet with her head out of the water. And most tire very quickly, so always make sure they are fitted with a life jacket appropriate for the breed that fits well.

Secondly, teach your dog where their “spot” and make them sit in their spot. A dog running across the boat can be dangerous for everyone.

Other tips that will make your dog’s boating day safe and fun include:

Make a Plan.  What are you going to do if your dog goes overboard?  Know your plan and make sure everyone onboard knows the plan too. The first thing should be to cut your engine so the dog cannot get caught in a moving prop. Secondly, if you are close, call them back to the boat to a spot where you can lift them up. If they are a small dog, you might need to put on your own life jacket and dive in after them. But think it through…. In advance.

Fresh water and dog bowl.  Dogs should not drink out of the lake. They are full of parasites, so make sure you have a bowl full of fresh water ready for them. Also, if you’re going out for the day, bring some food for them too.

Don’t forget their sunscreen too.  Dog’s bellies, noses and the tips of ears can burn. Sunscreen made especially for dogs is safe and effective.

Non-slip mat.  Fiberglass can be very slippery. So to make your dogs feel safe, a non-slip mat can be very helpful. Even a wet beach towel, spread out on the floor offers some traction. And a wet towel is also a way to stay cool. Just re-wet frequently.

What about going to the bathroom?  Stopping and getting them off the boat to go is ideal. If not, think about a pee pad or a patch of artificial grass. And, you might want to bring a little disinfectant along just in case of an accident.

Water loungers.  If you’re planning on going to the sandbar for the day, think about getting your dog their own lounger on floating pad. Just make sure they are tethered to the boat and always keep your eye on them.

Dogs are part of the family, so if they love the boat, they should get to go on outings too. But if your dog is afraid or does not enjoy the boat, don’t force them. Everyone will be happier if they stay home, snoozing on their own bed.

Enjoy your day on the water and make sure  your dog waves at my dogs!