Boating With Your Dog.


Getting out onto the water is one activity which has seen significant growth in recent years – both in terms of boat sales and boating holidays. While people love to get out on the water on a boat, it is an activity your dog dog might enjoy too. Whether you’re new to boating, or a seasoned sailor, Holidays4Dogs provides a few hints and tips on getting out onto the water with your dog.

There is something fascinating about messing about in boats. Whether you are paddling down river in a canoe, or meandering along the canal on a barge – boating draws many people to the waters edge. It’s not just people who enjoy the thrills and relaxation of boating – boating with your dog can add to the enjoyment of this relaxing pastime.

Safety first.

Perhaps the most important thing to invest in if you intend to take your dog boating is a good life jacket. Not only are they essential for every person on board; your dog will definitely need one too. Life jackets do just that – save lives.

Not all dogs are very good at swimming and some don’t like water at all. It is therefore important to make sure your dog’s lifejacket fits well. He shouldn’t be able to wriggle out of it and it should have extra buoyancy built in.

It should also have a sturdy handle. If your dog does fall into the water, he can be lifted safely out. It also needs to be comfortable and flexible, otherwise this may put your dog off wearing it.

Get your dog used to wearing a life jacket while on dry land. If your dog is not too heavy, accustom him to having his feet lifted slightly off the ground by using the handle on the top of the jacket.

Sea dog sea legs.

Begin by just putting upwards pressure and rewarding your dog, then very gradually lift him until he is on his tiptoes, put him back down gently, reward and so and so forth. It is better to practice this manoeuvre on dry land, as he will be less startled, if for any reason you need to grab him while on board.

For extra safety, have your dog on a lead and attached to something secure. However, don’t have the lead too long, as this may cause a trip hazard to other boat users. Never attach the lead to a neck collar, but always to a jacket or harness.

Calm waters.

You can also practice getting your dog to go to his ‘station’.  Practice this at home before taking your dog onto a boat. You can learn more about how to train this in our other Holidays4Dogs articles.  Take a mat, which you can place in an out of the way spot for your dog to lie down on while the boat is moving.

It is sensible not to allow your dog to move about on the boat while you are sailing.  If your dog is particularly excitable, it would be  safer to put your dog inside the boat while you are moving. In the case of narrow boating, keep your dog safe while navigating through lock gates.

Sparkling water.

There is something very magical about the reflections created by the summer haze on oceans, lakes and rivers. However, as beautiful as it is to feel the cool of ocean dog sitting, pet sittingspray under a summer sky, it can burn your skin much more readily.

Sun cream is another thing to consider if you intend to spend hot summer days on the water.  The reflection of the sun on water can cause skin to burn more quickly.  Apply sun block to tips of ears and noses.  Always to remember to carry plenty of fresh drinking water too and don’t let your dog drink from the sea, lake or canal.

Swimming might be on the agenda depending where you are boating but, remember, while it may be refreshing and cooling on a hot summer day to take a dip – watch out for contaminated water, or strong currents. Winter swimming is also an activity dogs enjoy – but do be aware of health implications.

Final thoughts on boating with your dog.

Some dogs may be very nervous and anxious about being on a boat. If being onboard a boat scares your dog, it might be kinder to leave him with a friend, or a Holidays4Dogs carer.

For many dogs, boating can be fun. Especially if it involves stopping at beauty spots, beaches and dog friendly pubs along the way.