Nothing beats a warm summer day out on the boat; but a day out on the lake just isn’t the same if you leave your first mate at home. If you are planning on taking your four-legged friend on the boat with you this summer, there are a few simple steps you can take to make their (and your) time safer and more enjoyable:
1. Let Them get Acclimated to the Boat
Before you load up your companion for a day long trip out on the water, it is a good idea to let them get used to the boat (especially if it is their first time). Allow your furry friend to board the boat while it’s docked and let them explore to get acquainted with being on board. Make sure to take things slow initially so your animal can get their sea legs and you might even want to set up a “safe zone” on your boat where the animal feels comfortable. You can do this by bringing along some of your pet's belongings and letting your companion have a designated spot to go to if feeling anxious or scared.Photo courtesy of: Ayleen Brown
2. Bring Plenty of Sunscreen
Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned too. This is especially the case for short-haired dogs whose skin is not protected by the extra fur. If you are going to be in the direct sunlight for a long period of time, bring along some sun screen for your companion as well - make sure to consult a veterinarian on which sunblocks are safe for your pet.
3. PFD (Pet Flotation Device)
Although you might think your pet is the next Michael Phelps, safety needs to be priority number one. That is why it is a good idea to have a designated flotation device for your animal. You should be able to pick one of these up at your local pet supplies store, or you can buy one online from Amazon or other e-commerce websites. (The Modern Bark has an excellent article reviewing canine life jackets, you can read it by clicking here). As always, watch pets while swimming for signs of struggle (especially senior dogs, small-breeds, puppies, short-legged dogs, dogs with low body fat, and dogs with double coats).Photo courtesy of: Stefan Verkerk
4. Monitor Deck Temperatures
Your boat floor and boat docks can get very hot in the summer and potentially burn your pup’s paw pads. Do your best to avoid this by monitoring floor temperatures and providing your animal shade (especially if it has been awhile since your last dip in the water). If you live somewhere where the temperatures get absurdly hot or a place where there might be sharp rocks, coral, or objects present, you might want to look into getting your dog a pair of canine shoes to better protect their paws.
5. Bring Plenty of Fresh Drinking Water & Food
Even though you will be surrounded by water, you need to make sure to bring along some fresh drinking water for your pup. Lakes and other natural bodies of water can contain contaminates and the last thing you want is a sea-sick puppy. If you are going to be out for more than a couple hours, make sure to bring along some food and snacks for your pup as well.Photo courtesy of: Brent Eddy
6. Keep Fishing Gear Put Away
Before you get caught up on enjoying the spray of the water and the open waters, make sure you “puppy-proof” your boat by ensuring all fishing supplies and other hazardous objects are safely stowed away. The last thing you want is to have to cut a boat outing short with a trip to the vet due to your puppy getting ahold of bait or a fishing hook.
7. Leash & Harness
It is a good idea to make sure you have both a leash and harness handy for when your boat is docked. Even though you are near the shore, your pet still needs to be restrained against their natural urges to chase after things.Photo courtesy of: Tom Bauman
8. Bring Doggy Waste Supplies
If you intend to be out on the water for an extended period of time, it is a smart idea to bring along some waste management supplies. Doggy waste bags, puppy pads, newspapers, or pieces of astroturf or old carpet are great options to bring on board. Whichever method you choose, make sure you are ready for when your fur child has to take care of business or the “poop deck” might take on a very real, very literal meaning.
9. Bring Toys that Float
Even though the boat is exciting for us, our furry friends will more than likely get bored. If you want to avoid destructive chewing or bad behaviors due to pet boredom, make sure to bring along some toys for the ride. You can check your local pet supply store or Amazon to see some awesome dog toys designed to float in the water.Photo courtesy of: Steven Beck
10. Watch Out for Slippery Decks
When wet, boat decks can become incredibly slippery (especially when moving). Do your best to avoid injuries for anyone by drying deck floors, lining the floor with non-slip coverings, or by limiting your pet’s movement while the boat is in motion.
As always, be sure to exercise caution when bringing animals on the boat with you. Be sure to put safety first and use your best judgement when the animal is present. If your pet is not already microchipped or tagged with an ID tag, it would be a smart idea to do so. Follow these steps, and you can help make your time out on the water a safe and fun experience for everyone.