Aug 26, 2022



Having the opportunity to get out on the water is fun for the whole family–even your four-legged family members! Dogs and boats can be a fun combo, but bringing dogs on a boat requires special precautions. After all, while you can talk about boat safety in terms the other passengers can understand, you can't simply use words to explain to your dog how to stay safe on your boat.

Most dogs love the water almost as much as they love being with their people. Before you head out onto the water there’s a few things you can do to ensure you and your pet have best experience possible while out on the water.

Here are 8 tips for keeping your dog safe while out for a day on the boat. 

1. Pack the right supplies

A water bowl
You should always have clean water available for your dog. Clean water, of course, is meant to prevent dehydration, but having plenty on hand discourages dogs from drinking water from the ocean or lake. Waterborne parasites can make your dog sick. Try a collapsible water bowl, which makes for easy storage and transport.

Light-colored dogs and thin-haired dogs are susceptible to sunburns. Some vets recommend using baby sunscreen with SPF 30 (or higher) for your pet. Apply sunscreen on his ears, the bridge of his nose, and any other area where skin shows.

Extra towels or a mat
Find a place that's out of the way and in the shade that your dog can rest when he needs a break from the sun. A mat can also help a dog that's slipping on the deck of a boat feel more secure and comfortable. The movements of dogs and boats don't always align.

Waste bags and Puppy Pads
Some people train their dogs to go on puppy pads when on board so that messes are easy to clean, and spare waste bags can help you contain and tuck away any mess until you're able to find the proper receptacle ashore. If this is not something your dog is accustomed to do and you plan on being out of the water for hours at a time, you need to make sure you set aside some time to make a trip ashore to let him relieve himself. 

2. Consider investing in a life jacket for your dog
If your dog isn’t a natural swimmer, and even if he is, a life jacket will provide peace of mind for everybody. Even if your dog is a good swimmer, even the best swimmers can sometimes run into trouble if they're exhausted or if they're in water that's too rough or too cold. A life jacket that gives a dog extra buoyancy should have "lifting handles" that enable you to haul the dog back aboard. You can pick up a dog life jacket at your local pet supply store, West Marine or SwimOutlet. 

3. Allow your dog to get familiar with the boat before leaving the dock
Before you take your dog out for the first time, let him check out the boat while it’s not underway. If he seems cool with it, you may want to start up the motor to get him accustomed to the sound of it.

4. Practice getting your dog on and off a Boat
A dog that tries to jump on and off a boat can hurt himself if he slips. He can also accidentally end up in the water, caught between the boat and the dock–a scary scenario for sure! That's why it's important to teach your dog to let you carry him on board, or better yet, have a ramp or stairs that he can use to climb on himself.

5. Take it slow, try a day at the sandbar or a short cruise
This might seem like obvious, but doing a few test runs on your boat with your dog can mean a world of difference when it comes time to take your trip. Sandbars are excellent places for dogs to run around and enjoy the water. If you're in a yacht, anchoring in deeper water and loading your dog on to the tender can be great practice for accessing the beach or sandbar. Even taking your dog for a short cruise to lunch can get them used to the movement of the boat and all of the things they may encounter.

6. Give your dog their own place on the boat
Dogs are creatures of habit and will feel confident on board your boat if they have their own place that they always go when on the boat. If you're planning on a multi-night trip, think about bringing your dog's favorite bed along with either his/her crate or a movable baby gate. Should you choose to dock at a restaurant and want to leave your pup on board, this will ensure they don't start chewing on something they aren't supposed to.

7. Ensure someone is always responsible for the dog while the boat is in motion
Dogs are naturally curious creatures. They love to have the wind in their face and be in a place to spot all that is going on around them. But because boats are not enclosed like cars, they have a much greater risk of getting thrown out of the boat. So, when the boat is in motion, make sure he is not standing on the bow of the boat without someone watching or holding onto him. Large waves, or sudden changes in direction or speed could cause him to lose balance and fall in putting him at great risk.

8. Carry a pet first aid kit in case of emergencies
Keep a first aid kit on board just in case your dog steps on a sharp shell or decides to take on a marine animal. In addition to the basic supplies like gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, scissors and tweezers, consider items such as hydrogen peroxide, extra towels, ear cleaning solution, styptic powder, a flashlight and needle-nose pliers.

For more information about how Tampa Yacht Sales can help you find the boat of your dreams contact Shane Faunce at (727) 513-7615 for more information or view our current listings.


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