Splash Happy: Water and Boat Safety for Pets

If you’re headed to the water with your pet, there are important safety and etiquette considerations to keep in mind.


If you’re going to be on the water with your pet this season, there are important safety and etiquette tips you need to know in order to keep your pet safe, and to make sure they are a well-behaved boat passenger! Here’s how you can prep your pet for a day out on the lake.

Boating Gear

Visit your local pet store to have your pet fitted for a life jacket. Proper fit is important - it should fit snugly, but not so tight that it constricts your pet’s movements. If you’re buying the life jacket online, pay close attention to the measurements listed. Look for a jacket with a handle, which will make it much easier to lift your dog out of the water should they fall overboard.

Supplies to bring with you

In addition to a life jacket, there are some other boat safety essentials, such as: a pet first aid kit (you can purchase one or DIY), portable water bottle, leash and collar with updated tags. It also doesn’t hurt to have a plan for dealing with bathroom accidents or an upset stomach. Have some cleaning supplies on hand in case your pet makes a mess on the boat.

Preparing for the water

Prepare your pet for a day on the water by familiarizing them with the boat before you head out. This will help to put them at ease and feel more comfortable in their new surroundings. If your pet has never been in the water before, supervise them in some shallower water (or keep them on-leash), to introduce them to the water. They’ll be doggy paddling in no time!

Getting on the boat

Smaller pets can be carried onto the boat. For larger animals, use a ramp to help them get on and off the boat safely while you lead them on a leash.

On the Boat

The safest place for your pet on the boat is right next to you. Have your pet lie down on the ground while the boat is in motion. It’s also a good idea to keep your pet on a leash so that you can protect them from jumping off the boat if they’re startled by a noise, get over-excited, or can’t resist the water!

Find a shady spot

If you’re feeling the heat, so will your pet. Find or create a cool, shady place for your pet to relax both on and off the boat.

Water sports

Swimming is great exercise for your dog. Some breeds – like retrievers - are born to swim. Even if your dog is an expert swimmer, though, you can’t lower your safety standards. Never leave a dog unattended in the water. Some activities, like paddle boarding and kayaking, require a fair amount of training. Be patient while your dog learns what is expected. If you are taking your pup out with you while fishing, keep lures and hooks in your tackle box and be very careful when casting. A relaxing day on the water can be dangerous without proper safety precautions in place.

With the right plan, you and your pet can enjoy a fun, relaxing day on the water.
Keep these tips in mind and enjoy!

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