Boating with Your Dog – How to Set Sail Safely

Getting ready to hit the water again as spring starts to roll in? Like many dog lovers, you may want to bring your pup along for some boating fun. To help make sure the experience is a positive one, we’ve put together a guide with our top 5 tips for keeping your favourite four-legged friend safe when on a boat. 

Safety Tips 

Train Your Pooch to Respond to Commands  

When bringing a dog on boating trips, it’s important that you are able to control their behaviour whilst on board. This means that they listen, and follow your commands. It’s best to only take well-trained dogs on a boat as a matter of safety. However, if you are short of time to completely train your pooch, ensure they are kept on a leash for their own safety.

Boating Familiarization 

Before heading out on the water, you need to get your dog acclimatised to any sort of boating experience to find out if they really are built for water activities – some dogs just aren’t. Allowing them to get their bearings while docked will reduce any distress caused from not being firmly planted on solid ground. Consider keep your dog’s first boat outing short so they can adjust to the movement. 
Once you know your dog is built for the water it’s almost time to set sail! Before leaving the dock it’s a great idea to let your dog explore the boat and get used to the sound and smell of the engine – then you should be ready to go. 

Invest in A Dog Life Vest

Not all dogs are strong swimmers, so it’s important to have a dog life vest as a safety precaution – especially when there are rough weather conditions or currents. Many life vests have a handle, making it easy for you to lift your dog if needed.  Even if you know your pooch is an avid swimmer we suggest keeping a life vest handy just in case. 


Just because your dog is having a good time, is calm, and a skilful swimmer, that doesn't mean you don't have to keep an eye on them. Boating can present a variety of unforeseen hazards for your dog – from propellers to dangerous chemicals – therefore it’s your job to keep an eye out for them. A leash is a great way to keep your dog supervise and stop them from wondering off. Keep in mind even a strong dog can slide off a boat due to unexpected boat movement.

Don’t Forget About Basic Needs 

If you plan to be out on the water for an extended period of time, make sure you pack all the basic needs for your dog that you would for yourself. Just like us, our dogs get dehydrated, hungry and the need for a bathroom. Ensure you have packed a day bag for your pooch containing things you know they need daily. Also allow for bathroom breaks and make sure your dog is fully hydrated. Furthermore, make sure you pet has access to shade on the boat as due to high temperatures during the summer, dogs are more prone to heatstroke and will need to stay hydrated and cool. 

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