golden retriever on a boat

Anchors Aweigh: A Guide to Taking Care of Dogs While Boating

Boating is a popular pastime for many, and including your canine companion can make the experience even more enjoyable. However, taking care of a dog while boating requires careful consideration to ensure the safety and well-being of your furry friend. This article will discuss tips and best practices for keeping your dog safe and happy while on board.

1. Preparing Your Dog for Boating

Before embarking on a boating adventure with your dog, preparing them for the experience is essential. This includes:

  • Acclimating your dog to the boat: Spend time with your dog on the boat while it’s docked, allowing them to explore and become familiar with the environment.

  • Testing their swimming ability: Ensure your dog can swim confidently and comfortably in the water.

  • Introducing a life jacket: Purchase a well-fitted life jacket designed specifically for dogs and allow your dog to wear it during supervised swim sessions to become accustomed to the fit and feel.

2. Safety Precautions

Safety should be your top priority when taking your dog boating. Keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Secure your dog with a leash or tether when necessary: To prevent your dog from accidentally falling overboard or wandering into unsafe areas, secure them with a leash or tether, particularly when the boat is in motion or docking.

  • Use a dog life jacket: Even strong swimmers can become fatigued in the water. Ensure your dog always wears a life jacket while on the boat to provide extra buoyancy and safety.

  • Provide shade and hydration: Keep your dog cool, calm, and hydrated by providing access to fresh water and a shaded area on the boat.

  • Prevent heat exhaustion: Be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion in dogs, such as excessive panting, drooling, or lethargy, and take action immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

3. Boating Etiquette and Courtesy

Maintaining good boating etiquette and courtesy is crucial when taking your dog on the water. This includes:

  • Cleaning up after your dog: Bring waste bags and ensure you clean up after your dog both on the boat and onshore.

  • Respect wildlife: Keep your dog on a leash when exploring shorelines and islands to prevent them from disturbing local wildlife or ecosystems.

  • Considering other boaters: Be mindful of other boaters and ensure your dog’s behavior does not negatively impact their experience.

4. Onboard Amenities and Comfort

To keep your dog comfortable and content while boating, consider the following:

  • Designate a comfortable space: Create a designated area on the boat where your dog can rest and relax, complete with a comfortable bed or mat and their favorite toys.

  • Bring food and treats: Pack your dog’s regular food, treats, and chews to keep them entertained during the trip.

  • Plan for bathroom breaks: Research pet-friendly shore locations or marinas where you can stop for bathroom breaks or invest in a portable pet potty for onboard use.

5. First Aid and Emergency Preparedness

Accidents can happen, so it’s essential to be prepared for emergencies. Create a pet first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers, and familiarize yourself with basic pet first aid procedures. Additionally, have your veterinarian’s contact information readily available and research the nearest emergency veterinary clinics along your boating route.


Taking your dog boating can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you, but it requires careful planning and attention to safety. By preparing your dog for the boating experience, taking necessary safety precautions, practicing good boating etiquette, and ensuring you have everything you need beforehand can lead to an enjoyable experience the whole family can enjoy.

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