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For most of us, our dogs are more than pets. They’re members of the family. So naturally when we go boating, we want to bring them along. The good news is that most dogs adapt well to new experiences, even becoming eager participants. But don’t mistake that enthusiasm for inbred know-how.

Some dogs are better adjusted to boats than others. A senior pet may not do well, while younger dogs who are brought on board early will think that life afloat is normal. It’s a good bet that if the breed includes the word “water”, as in Portuguese Water Spaniel, it will take to boating in no time. Here are some tips for keeping your four-footed friends happy and safe on the water:

1. As with all new experiences, your pet may need some time to get comfortable aboard a boat. First, let him climb on and sniff around the boat when it’s powered down. Let him get accustomed to the way the boat feels on the water.

2. Once your pet is relaxed, take him for a short run to get him used to the motion. Make sure someone is holding your dog when you start the motor, as this might cause a mad scramble to get away.

3. Dog-proof your boat. Take a dog’s eye view of the boat and gear. Make sure there are no hazardous materials within his reach. Nosy pets in the fishing tackle can spell disaster!

4. Designate a potty area. You can use taped-down newspaper, or you can purchase a special setup from your local pet store. Make sure your dog goes to the bathroom before you set out, and bring plastic bags to clean up after him.

5. Bring lots of food and water. It’s better to have too much than too little. This is especially true of water. Have a bowl on hand and enough water to fill it as often as the dog wants to drink.

6. Find or create a shaded area where your pet can take shelter. Hopefully, there will be air movement here to aid in cooling. Wetting his coat with fresh water can also help him feel better.

7. Protect the pads on his paws. Dogs absorb cold and heat through their pads and can be burned by a boat’s hot fiberglass and vinyl surfaces. Brings sheets, blankets or towels for him to walk and lie on.

8. Remember to check regulations in advance if you plan to venture to foreign ports with your pet. Many places have quarantine/health laws that apply to “foreign” animals.

9. Make sure you have an appropriately sized life jacket for your dog, especially if he plans on entering the water. It’s also a good idea to get a doggy boarding ladder to help him enter and exit the water on his own.

United Marine Underwriters is more than just boat insurance. Browse our Boats For Sale at BoatBrowser or our Lake Resource Guide at LakeBrowser or share your fishing stories and photos at True Fish Tales – the ones that did not get away.

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2 Responses to Dogs Ahoy

  1. Bob Brink says:

    We built a dock ramp for our Goldens that lowers into the water. They love it. We also put a kiddie pool on the dock with rocks, dirt & sod so they can do their business w/o walking on hot concrete to land.

  2. Don Juda says:

    Thanks nice reading…..

    “DEXTER” absolutely loves the boat and the water. He gets very disappointed if he gets left behind when we go out. He even uses the ladder to get back in the boat which everyone enjoys watching.

    He has a problem with bathroom issues however as he wont pee in the water when we have him in the shallows and on rafts. He goes when he gets back on the boat. We now get him to shore every 2 hours or so. I will try one of those pet store doggie mats I guess to see if that works…

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