Boating With Your Dog – All You Need To Know

Taking your furry friend on a boating trip can be a fun experience. Being outdoors, surrounded by nature, and bonding on the water is an excellent way to spend quality time together.

However, before setting sail, there are a few safety precautions and preparations you should consider to keep your dog safe and comfortable on the boat. 

So to help you go boating with your dog, here are some helpful tips that you can use to have a safe and unforgettable trip on the water with your best buddy.

1# Safety First

Get Your Dog A Well-Fitted Life Jacket

Investing in a life vest is the first and most crucial step to ensure your dog’s safety while on the water.

Before you get on the boat, put the life jacket on your dog and see that it fits properly.

It should fit snugly without restricting movement or causing any discomfort. Also, make sure it provides adequate support and doesn’t slip out when moving around.

Go for a swim with your dog and see if everything works correctly. Opt for a bright life jacket for maximum safety.

Life jacket for boating with your dog

2# Bring Onboard The Essentials

Fresh Water and Snacks

Always keep a supply of fresh water for your dog while boating. Your dog might be tempted to drink water from the sea or lake, which you must avoid, as it can make him or her sick.

So it’s super important to train your dog to drink only fresh water from its bowl.

Also, don’t forget to bring some snacks or treats to keep your dog’s energy levels up throughout the day.

Dog Boat Ladder

Invest in a dog boat ladder to make it easier for your furry friend to get in and out of the boat.

This will save your back and ensure your dog’s safety, especially in deep or rough water.

A dog boat ladder is relatively easy to mount to the side or stern of the boat and will help your dog avoid potential injuries from jumping on and off the deck.

First Aid Kit

Preparing a first aid kit specifically for your dog is essential when boating. The kit should include items like:

  • Bandages and gauze
  • Antiseptic wipes and ointment
  • Hydrogen peroxide (to induce vomiting in case your dog ingests something toxic)
  • A muzzle (in case your dog is in pain and might bite)
  • A digital thermometer (to check for fever)
  • Tweezers (to remove ticks or splinters)

It’s important to bring these essential items with you on your boat trip with your furry friend so that you can quickly and efficiently deal with any minor injuries or emergencies that may occur.

3# Keep Your Dog In The Shade

Being out on a boat all day can expose your dog to the harsh sun. So it’s crucial to provide shaded areas for your furry friend. Here are some ways to ensure your dog stays cool and comfortable on the boat:

  • Bimini top: Many boats come equipped with a bimini top. If you have one installed, fantastic. Just make sure it’s in good condition and provides ample shade for your dog, especially during peak sunlight hours.
  • Tent: If your boat has no bimini top, consider installing one or setting up a small pop-up tent that’s easy to dismantle and transport. This will act as a sun shelter for your pup.
  • Umbrella: Another option is to bring along a large umbrella that you can clamp onto your boat’s railings or insert into a holder. It can be easily adjusted to block the sun as it moves throughout the day.

It’s crucial to keep your dog in the shade to prevent overheating and sunburn in sensitive areas such as the ears, nose, and belly. Always keep an eye on your dog! Oh, one more thing. Avoid swimming or sailing with your dog in the hottest hours of the day (Between 14:00 and 16:00, depending on your country)

Use Bimini or tent for boating with your dog

4# Install A Trail Net On Your Boat

Installing a trailing net on your boat can help keep your dog safe while aboard.

A trail net, also known as lifeline netting, is a strong nylon netting material that you can attach to the lifelines along the perimeter of your boat.

This additional layer of protection prevents your dog from accidentally falling overboard, which is especially important in rough waters or when your dog is walking on the deck.

First, to install the trail net, measure the length and height of your boat’s lifelines. You’ll need enough netting to cover the entire perimeter.

Next, secure the netting to the top lifeline using a spiral wrap of nylon cord or simply thread the lifeline through the weave of the netting.

Finally, ensure the netting is tight and covers any gaps between the lifelines to prevent your dog from slipping through.

Keep in mind that while a trailing net is a valuable safety measure, it’s essential to combine it with other precautions, such as:

  • Acclimating your dog to the boating environment
  • Monitoring your dog’s location at all times while aboard
  • Providing a comfortable space, such as a pet bed or designated area for your dog to rest
Install a trail net for boating with your dog

5# Use Dog Pads

Teaching your dog to pee and poop on the boat is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable boating experience.

To start, you can choose an appropriate spot on the boat for your dog to relieve themselves.

This area should ideally be easy to clean and away from where you and your guests usually gather.

You may also consider getting your dog some pee pads. These can help make clean-up much easier and more convenient.

Encourage your dog to sniff and familiarize themselves with the pads.

Reward your dog with treats when they successfully use the pads. It would be a good idea to gradually train your dog first on land before using the pads on board.

It will help your buddy become more comfortable with the idea and adapt more quickly once on the boat.

Encourage your dog to associate the boat with positive experiences, offering treats and praise when they approach and eventually get on the boat.

Be patient. Some dogs might take longer to adjust to their new bathroom routine on a boat, but with consistency, your four-legged family will get the hang of it. 

6# Bring Sunscreen For Your Dog

When getting on the water with your dog, it’s important to protect their skin from harmful UV rays.

Just like you, your dog can suffer from sunburns and skin irritation due to prolonged sun exposure.

To prevent this from happening, always bring sunscreen specifically designed for dogs.

There are various types of dog sunscreen available, such as wipes and sprays, allowing you to choose the application method that suits your furry friend.

Before going boating, ensure you properly apply sunscreen to your dog to sun-sensitive areas like the nose, ears, and belly.

Keep in mind that not all sunscreen is dog-safe, so be sure to choose a product specifically designed for dogs. Human sunscreens may contain ingredients that are harmful or irritating to your pet.

Remember to reapply the sunscreen throughout the day, especially after your dog goes for a swim or gets wet. The frequency of reapplication will depend on the product instructions and your dog’s activity level.

Do’s And Don’ts

1 Don’t leave your dog alone on the boat. He could fall overboard or get into other dangerous situations.

2 If your dog is nervous or scared, don’t force him onto the boat. Take it slow and try to make the experience a positive one.

3 Seawater can make your dog sick, so make sure they only drink fresh water that you bring with you.

4 Be sure to bring plenty of poop bags and clean up after your dog on the boat and at any stops you make.

5 Pay attention to your dog’s behavior and watch for signs of distress or discomfort. If your dog seems unhappy or anxious, check what you can do to make your buddy more comfortable.

Final Words

Here we are; with those tips, you and your buddy should be ready for a fun and exciting boating trip. Remember, when sailing with a dog, planning is key! Make sure you have everything you need for your dog to be comfortable onboard. If it’s a puppy, have four eyes on him or her instead of two.

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4 thoughts on “Boating With Your Dog – All You Need To Know”

  1. My opinion about this article is that it contains a wealth of useful information for pet owners who are looking to take their furry friends out on the water. The page structure is well-organized, providing helpful summaries and links that make navigating the content easy and intuitive. I also appreciate that there are plenty of photos and videos to help illustrate some points more clearly.

    It’s even funny at times – one of the tips is to “Remember, dogs get seasick too. Better have a second bowl ready!” If you’re interested in a comprehensive guide to boating with your furry friend, this page is definitely worth reading. Just make sure to bring some treats along for them.

    • Hi Terry,

      Thank you for the kind comment. I am glad you liked the article. If you have any questions, please let me know. I am always happy to help.

      Thanks again, and I wish you a lovely day.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on safety and essential items to bring for your dog onboard. You’ve made some great suggestions. 

    Do you have any thoughts on ways to coax an older, large dog on to a boat? My dog is 7 now and I’d like to bring him onboard my new boat so we can spend more time together, but he seems nervous. I don’t want to stress him. How can I get him onboard without forcing him or physically lifting him on? Do you have any tips?

    • Hi Lee,

      Thank you for passing by and commenting. If your dog is anxious to get on board, the best would be to take him as often as possible near the boat using positive reinforcement and giving lots of delicious treats:) I am sure he will get on the boat relatively fast. Never force him. That wouldn’t be a good idea. Patience is key.

      I hope it helped, and if you have more questions, please feel free to ask. I am always happy to assist.


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