Tips for Boating with Your Dog

10:23 AM

Your pets are part of your family, so naturally, you want to include them in all your family activities.  One summer activity you may be hesitant to involve your dog in is going out on the boat.  While many dogs are typically natural swimmers, the question still stands as to whether they'd do well on the water or not.  Firstmate Controls knows you want to include your furry buddy in all of your outdoor fun activities this summer, so we've come up with some helpful tips to follow when taking your dog on a boat.  Check out the tips below!


Check Local Laws

At this time, there are no national legal restrictions or requirements pertaining to having your furry friends aboard your boat, we recommend that you double-check local laws, since regulations can vary by state.

Develop a Safety Plan

Before leaving on your first doggy-boating adventure, we recommend that you develop a safety plan in case your dog was to go overboard.  Talk to all of the people who will be on the boat ride and decide what each person would do if your dog goes overboard.  Thinking these things through ahead of time can save you time and stress JUST IN CASE your pet goes overboard.

Prepare the Boat 

If you're not sure of how well your dog can swim, consider getting him a life jacket.  Even if you think your dog is a strong swimmer, it is important to have a life jacket for them, because depending on the conditions, including weather and currents, your pup could still face problems.
How do you choose a life jacket for your Dog? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Fit: Make sure the life jacket fits securely. It’s best to check the fit in the store before you buy.
  • Lifting handles: To make retrieving your pet safer and easier.
  • Comfort: Check to see where straps and buckles fall to make sure they won’t cause your pet any discomfort.
  • Color: Choose a bright color to make it easier to spot your dog in the water.
  • Life Jacket TIP: Give your pet a chance to get used to wearing its life jacket before actually getting on a boat.  Allow your pup to practice swimming while wearing his life jacket, too.

Also, take into consideration how long you plan to be on the water.  If you're just going out for a 10-minute ride around the cove, you probably don't need to plan so extensively.  However, if you plan to take your dog out all day on the water with you, it's best to plan ahead and be prepared.  Make sure you pack food and plenty of clean drinking water for your dog.  With all of their fur, dogs can quickly become overheated and can get sunburned.  Even if you plan to let your dog swim to cool down, you still need to make sure they have a well-covered area on the boat that they can have shade to keep cool and avoid sunburn.

Suggested List of Items to Pack on Your “Doggie Boat Day”:

  • Life Jackets for ALL Boat Passengers 
  • Water Bowl & Clean Water
  • First-Aid Kit (for you AND your pup!)
  • Sunscreen (again, for both you AND your pup!)
  • Extra Towels or a Mat
  • Waste Bags & Puppy Pads (or a plan of how your dog will relieve himself)
  • Identification Tags (TIP: include a mobile phone number so you can be reached even on the water)

Acquaint Your Dog with the Boat

Before departing, we suggest you get your dog acclimated and comfortable with the boat.  The last thing you want to do is to bring your dog out on the water and have to turn right back around because they become anxious or scared.  Start out on the dock, letting them find their sea legs and become comfortable with the movement on the dock.  Once they seem comfortable on the dock, you can load them up on the boat while it's still docked.  Let your dog check out the boat at their own time and pace.  Dogs are more likely to be at ease while traveling if they're familiar with the vessel.


Take Your Dog Out for a Quick Test-Drive

Once your dog is comfortable with the dock and boat while in the lift, you can take your pooch out for a little test-drive.  Make sure to keep your dog’s first outing short.  Stay near the dock or near a ramp in case you need to make a quick exit.  Keep your pup on a leash so they do not try to jump overboard if they get nervous.  Be sure to bring treats to praise them with as they have good reactions to the experience.  Positive reinforcements while on the boat will give your dog a better feeling about boating.  And bring a couple of their favorite toys so they feel more comfortable.

Have the Right Equipment on Your Dock

Finally, we would recommend making sure your dock is equipped for ease and convenience.  With a Firstmate Boat Lift Remote Control System, you can get on and off your boat more quickly and easily.  The Firstmate systems are capable of being set to up, down, and board positions that make loading and unloading more convenient, meaning your dog can safely get on and off the boat.  For more information about our boat lift remote control systems, visit our website or call us at 866-570-9707!

Boat Lift Controls You Can Count On!

Firstmate Controls 
130 Century Commerce Loop
Labadie, MO 63055

Phone: (866) 570-9707

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