by Emily Smith
“Dog people” are their own special breed of human. To us, dogs aren’t pets – they’re family – so it’s only natural that we want to take our furry children with us wherever we go, and that includes going on boat rides. Taking your dog out on your boat can add even more joy to an already fun experience. However, bringing him or her aboard with the rest of your pack requires some unique preparations and precautions.
1. Buy him a life jacket
Not only people need life jackets! Even dogs who are strong swimmers can end up drowning due to rough water or fatigue. Be sure that your dog’s life jacket fits properly (snug, but not too tight) and that you get him used to wearing it before your first boat ride.
2. Boat/dock introduction
Before you take your dog on her first outing, introduce her to your dock and boat while docked. Teach her how and where to get on and off the boat and basic commands to keep her safe while on board. Boarding ramps and ladders are especially helpful to larger dogs and their owners, so be sure to teach her how to use it before setting sail. For smaller dogs, keep a fishing net on board to sweep your pet out of the water if necessary! Help her get used to the sound of your boat’s engine while sitting still to better ensure it won’t startle her while you’re out on the water. It’s also a good idea to keep several special toys and treats specifically on the boat to better reassure your dog that your boat is a fun, safe place.
Make sure your dog is wearing a harness, as opposed to a collar, and that the ID tag is clipped directly to it. This helps ensure that the tag will not get caught on anything or scratch your boat. A harness is better to use than a collar while boating because it provides a safe way to grab and lift your dog out of the water. Never lift your dog directly by its collar. If you are boating while out of town, make a temporary ID tag that’s printed with your cell number and local information. It’s helpful to have your dog microchipped as well.