Dogs and cats aren’t just pets. They’re family. It’s only natural that we want to take them with us wherever we go. If you’re considering taking your dog on a boat ride, there are some precautions and preparations you’ll want to consider. Here are six tips to make the process easier.

  1. Buy your dog a lifejacket.
    Animals need lifejackets, too! Even dogs who are strong swimmers can end up drowning in rough currents. Your dog’s lifejacket should be snug and comfortable. Fortunately, they come in many sizes.
  2. Introduce them to the dock and your boat.
    Before you embark on your boat ride, introduce your dog to the dock and your boat. Teach her how and where to get on and off. If you have a smaller dog, keep a fishing net on board so you can quickly sweep them out of the water, in an emergency. Start the boat’s engine while she’s on board to get her accustomed to the sound. Lastly, keep a collection of toys and treats on hand to reassure your pup that the boat is a safe, comfortable place.
  3. Provide identification.
    Your dog should wear a harness at all times, and their ID tag should be clipped directly to it. Why a harness and not just a collar? A harness provides a safe way to lift your dog out of the water in a hurry. If your dog isn’t microchipped, we recommend having that done, too.
  4. Give them fresh drinking water.
    Bring a collapsible bowl on board that’s easy to store and transport, and provide fresh water for your dog at all times. Salt water can make your dog very sick, so try to prevent her from drinking it.
  5. Be prepared for potty time.
    Keep waste bags and paper towels on hand, in case your pup has to use the bathroom while you’re on the boat. You can also teach them to use puppy pads on board. You can usually prevent accidents from happening if you occasionally dock and walk them around a grassy or sandy pet-friendly area.
  6. Put down a small throw rug.
    It’s important to have a throw rug on board to protect your pup’s paws when it gets too hot. This carpeted area will also give them a place to lay or stand without slipping and sliding around. The constant movement of your boat might make your dog nervous, so it’s important to have a comfortable area for them.