Boating with Dogs – Tips and Safety

Going boating with dogs can be a great experience for both you and your animals, but you need to do it with care. Safe boating requires some special supplies, and taking a dog will introduce some challenges that are not present for human boaters. There are also plenty of practical issues that you need to consider before you decide if you can take your dog to a specific place. Fortunately, it’s possible to avoid all of those problems and have a great trip out on the water with just a little bit of planning. It does take some effort, but your dog will be sure to appreciate it when he has a great time in a boat.

What to Pack

You need to pack more than just your dog if you want to have a good trip, and safety gear is the most important part of the packing list. A life jacket is the most important tool, since it can save your dog’s life if it goes overboard. Be sure to get one that fits your dog well, since that is the only way to prevent some animals from slipping out of it. Get the jacket even if your dog is a strong swimmer, just in case you run into bad weather or other dangerous conditions. You should also bring a basic canine first aid kit in case your dog gets hurt.

Dog with life jacket

Be sure to bring a collar and leash with you for when you are taking your dog to and from the boat. A towel is also important in case the dog gets wet. It will help keep your vehicle dry on the way home and make sure your dog doesn’t get too cold from the water. Some dogs struggle to get in and out of the water after a swim. If you plan on letting your dog swim in the water, why not try a dog ladder to help them get back in.

Boating with Dogs Etiquette

It’s important to be a considerate boater. The most important part of that is staying away from people whom your dog would disturb, such as anglers. You should also try not to get too close to wildlife that might be scared of your dog if there are other people around who want to look at the animals.

Noise can also be a problem with some dogs, since it can disturb the tranquility of nature If your dog is prone to barking, try to avoid anything that might encourage him to start. It’s also important to follow standard canine etiquette on the docks before you get started, such as by keeping your dog on a leash and cleaning up any messes that he makes.

Large Dogs Vs. Small Dogs

Any dog can go boating as long as it behaves, but small dogs are much easier to handle. Some dogs are reluctant to climb onto boats, especially if the boat is rocking a little in the water. If you have a big dog, you need to coax it into getting on board, but you can just pick up a small dog and carry it onto the boat. Since small dogs take up less space than big ones, they’re less likely to get in your way as you maneuver on a small boat.

Issues to Think About

Bringing a dog does introduce a few complications to your trip. Local rules can be the biggest problem, since dogs aren’t allowed in every site. That means that you need to research everywhere that you intend to stop before you can start your trip. It also limits your options, since you can’t safely leave a dog alone for a long period of time. You also need to take the dog’s needs into account when you pack your boat, and bringing enough food and water for a dog can take up a lot of space.


There are a few practical ways to avoid most of those problems. Planning ahead and making a check list of things that you need to prepare will solve most of them. If possible, you should also give your dog a chance to familiarize himself with the boat before heading out on the water. That will give you a chance to see if he panics or gets uncomfortable and to deal with it in a safe setting. It’s also a good idea to research the area around the dock to find local veterinary offices, pet supply stores, and any other resources that can solve problems as they happen.

Dog on boat

Safety Tips When Boating With Dogs

Safety should be your top priority when you head out on the water. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to keep a dog safe on a boating trip.

The best way to keep your dog safe is to plan out what you will do if he goes overboard. Depending on your vessel, that can include turning off the engine, calling for the dog to swim back to the boat, and making sure everyone watches the water for him. If possible, try to practice the procedure a few times to make sure you can get it right while under stress. Be sure to keep to keep your dog in a life jacket at all times to make sure you have enough time to put your plan into action and save him. The life jacket will also give you an extra spot to grab onto your dog if he goes overboard.

Your dog might get injured during the trip, so you need to keep a first aid kit on hand just in case. Be sure that you know how and when to use everything inside it. You should also make a point of bringing fresh water and some shade onto the boat to stop your dog from overheating. Be sure to watch for excess panting or other signs of trouble so you can get him into the shade on time.

Some dogs will panic when they get on the boat, and that can put them at risk. Prevent that problem by giving your dog a chance to get used to the boat before you head out. You should also prepare for your trip by learning the local laws about dogs, such as leash laws, to make sure you don’t get into any legal trouble.


That may seem like a lot to consider, but staying safe is easier than it first appears. Everything will be fine as long as you do your research, prepare yourself with some basic safety supplies, and keep an eye on your dog during the trip. If you’re worried that there might be problems, you can always start with a short trip and work towards longer ones as you get more confident. Most dogs will have a great time if you take them boating, and the trip will be a great opportunity to bond with your pet, so it’s worth the effort to prepare for a trip.

For Fun

This dog sees some dolphins in the water and thinks they look like fun!

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