9 Safety Tips for Boating with the Dog

The weather is warm and warm weather brings outdoor water fun in the sun. It’s great to include your pooch in the summer activities and many people enjoy swimming and boating with the dog. It is important to remember some basic safety tips so everyone has a good time.

The summer months can be days packed with pleasant weather, perfect for a day on the boat. There are many potential dangers for your pooch in a day on the water, however. Knowing before you go and having a plan is always the best course of action. Be prepared and your boating outing will be fun for all.

When boating with the dog, even in a kayak, the dog should wear a life preserver as seen on this Husky.

Safety Tips for Boating with the Dog

  • Comfort in the Water – First things first, let’s learn to swim before we boat. Your dog should be comfortable in the water before he rides the waves. Should he ever get thrown from the boat, he will be dealing with enough just being in open water. Don’t make the terror two-fold if he is afraid of the water as well.
  • Comfort on the Boat – Give your dog a chance to get his “sea legs” when boating with the dog. Start them out slow. Give them time on the boat when it’s docked first. Then, with the leash on to prevent bolting, start the motor and get started slowly. Take it easy for a bit to test out the dog’s reaction.

When the dog is ready for more action, they will let you know. With no windows on a boat, it’s all wind in the face all the time. A dog’s favorite in the car. An at ease dog will settle down and find a good spot to enjoy the ride.

  • Dog Life Vests are key – Each dog on board should have a doggie life jacket that fits well and preferably has handles on the back for easy removal from the water. Life vests are a must when boating with the dog. Even good swimmers can tire or need a bit of assistance from time to time.

There are vests in all sizes and colors. We recommend a brightly colored vest with reflective trim that is correct for your dog’s weight and stature.

Viszla standing on rocks wearing pink life vest.
  • “Dog Overboard” – Have a plan should the dog go overboard. As with anyone, circle the boat around and cut the motor once the boat is close to the dog. DO NOT jump in after your dog. Just like a human, your dog can panic and pull you down. Call the dog to the boat and then lift them out of the water and into the boat.
  • Water & Shade – Fresh water and access to shade throughout the day are critical. Keep water available in a no-spill bowl. It is important to avoid heat stroke and dehydration. Learn the symptoms of each and protect your dog against them.
  • Sunscreen – Your dog needs sun protection too. There are sunscreens with SPF made especially for dogs that protects their nose and any other exposed skin that may burn. Be sure to apply generously and often. Watch they aren’t licking it from their noses.
  • Insect Repellent – The dog is susceptible to biting pests also. Keep some pet friendly insect repellent available for buggy days and nights.
  • First Aid Kit – You don’t need a special first aid kit for the dog. Keep some items specific for the dog in your regular first aid kit. In this way everyone is covered from the same kit and it saves on space.
  • Leash – Just like on a road trip, boating with the dog will require potty breaks too. A leash on hand makes these short excursions off the boat safe and secure. You don’t want the dog wandering away or running off on the far side of a lake or shore.

When your dog shows an affinity for the water, use these tips to keep your dog safe and your trip fun. Boating with the dog should be an enjoyable and relaxing time for everyone involved. Although rare, water tragedies and sun mishaps do occur and prevention is worth the time and effort in all instances.