If you’re like me, you hate leaving your dog at home, especially if you’re headed out for an outdoor activity. I’m the type of person who would rather stay home with my dogs than go somewhere without them. If I am able to bring my dogs with me, then they are coming! I am the proud dog mama of a seven-year-old Golden Retriever, named Ripken (Ripper), and a five-year-old Chocolate Lab, named Jackson (Mr.J). One of my husband’s and my favorite activities is going boating (you guessed it) -- with our dogs!
Our pups absolutely love coming aboard and are obsessed with the water. As retrievers, they could spend all day swimming. As their owner, it is my responsibility to make sure they stay safe while onboard. Here are a few tips I have learned to have a great day on the water with your dog(s):
1. Dogs Need Life Jackets Too- I highly recommend that your dog wears a life jacket onboard, just as you should! You want to be sure that in an emergency your dog is protected too. My dogs wear their life jackets when swimming in the water as well as on deck. Ripken would swim all day if we would let him. Putting him in his life jacket keeps him afloat and most dog life jackets have a handle on the top which makes it a lot easier to pull him back on board. Life jackets also make it easier for other boaters to see your dog in the water.
2. Pack Extra Water For Your Dog- We boat on the Chesapeake Bay which is brackish water and is not safe for dogs to drink. Just like humans, dogs can get dehydrated, especially when out in the summer heat. When packing water for your family, be sure to pack extra for your dog. Don’t forget to also pack a bowl or cup for them as well. I keep a collapsible silicone bowl on my boat. It dries quickly, is easy to drink from, and folds up for easy storage.
3. Keep An Eye On The Heat- There is nothing better than boating on a hot summer day but that heat can be dangerous for your dog. Before you decide to bring your dog out on the water, check to see the projected high temperature for the day. If the temperature is too high, you might want to leave your pup at home in the air conditioning. If it’s not too hot and you decide to bring them, ensure there is a shady place on board where they can rest and cool off. Our dogs love taking a nap under the T-Top where it is nice and cool. In addition, to keep your dog cool, you can purchase a cooling bandana. We keep two cooling bandanas in our cooler and put them on our dogs when they need a break from the heat.
4. Always Keep A Watchful Eye- Just like children, you need to keep a close eye on your dog while on board. I recommend you designate a watcher, especially when your boat is underway, to make certain your dog stays safe. When we are underway we like our dogs to lie between the center console and the leaning post. This way we know where they are and can keep them secure. For bigger boats, you can consider purchasing a Man Overboard (MOB) Safety Device. A few companies make wireless devices that attach to your dog’s collar and alert you if your pet falls overboard.