Summer is the perfect time to get your dog involved in some outdoor activities. There’s hiking, swimming, trips to the dog beach, and even boat rides. If you plan to take your dog on board, be prepared for the voyage with these safety tips.
1. Check Laws and Regulations Before You Go
Before heading out on the open water, check your state’s laws and regulations to ensure that your dog is allowed on the boat and that you’re following all the rules. In addition, if your boat is in a marina, call the marina ahead of time to ensure that dogs are allowed on the property.
2. Acclimate Your Dog to the Boat
Being on a moving boat for the first time can be scary for a dog. It’s fast, it’s loud, and there’s lots of strange movement. Before taking the boat out to sea, acclimate your dog by visiting the boat when it’s on dry land or parked at the dock. Let your dog explore and sniff, and offer treats and praise. The goal is to help your dog form a positive association with the vessel.
3. Bring Safety Supplies
A first-aid kit, pee pads, a life jacket, sunscreen, and fresh water are all important things to bring along for the ride. Even if your dog is an excellent swimmer, they should still wear a life jacket (or have one nearby) in case conditions change and the water gets choppy, which could affect their ability to swim. Fresh water is important because sea water can be dangerous for dogs to drink, and dog-friendly sunscreen will keep your pal from getting burnt when the sun’s beating down. Also be sure to set up a cool and shady area for your dog to rest; perhaps in the cabin or under a large umbrella.
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4. Develop a Safety Plan
What will you do if your dog goes overboard? Have a plan before you go so that everyone is on the same page. Maybe you’ll plan to turn off the engine, and one person will be assigned to jump into the water after the dog.
5. Build Up to Longer Outings
Even if you acclimate your dog to the boat, chances are they’ll still be a little freaked out the first time on board. Keep their first trip short and positive with plenty of treats and praise, and look out for signs of seasickness. If your dog suffers from seasickness, try these steps for dealing with car sickness. If the seasickness persists, ask your veterinarian if anti-nausea medication would be appropriate for future outings.
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6. Keep Your Eyes on Your Dog
Just like you would with a small child, it’s important to keep your eyes on your dog when they’re on a boat. A wave or wake could cause your dog to lose their footing and fall off, and too much time in the sun could cause your dog to become dehydrated (and even develop heatstroke). Know where your dog is at all times and make sure they are secure and taking breaks in the shade.
Do you take your dog out on a boat? How do they like it? Leave a comment and let us know, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.