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Boat Dogs


two frenchie dogs on a boat in life jackets/vests

Covering the boat show earlier this year really got us interested in how dogs fit into the boating community. So we’ve pooled some resources for tips, recommendations, and precautions for people thinking about taking their pup out on the water for the first time.

frenchie dog in life jacket on boat

First thing’s first, you want to make sure your pup isn’t afraid of the water. Make sure you take them on some trips to a lake shore and see how they feel swimming. Can they swim? And even if they are a good swimmer, all sources say it is wise to have them wear a lifejacket. So make sure they get some practice swimming with one on before they get onto a boat. Even the best of swimmers get fatigued or too cold or any number of incidents can impair their seemingly excellent ability to stay afloat. Discoverboating.com recommends a lifejacket with handles in case you need to lift your pu back into the boat. Some places to buy vests for your pup in our area include Target, PetSmart, and West Marine.


Frenchie in a life jacket

Next, it would be a good idea to let your dog familiarize themselves with the boat before it is bobbing around in water. That way they are more comfortable with the space, making it one less thing to make them nervous. Getting your pup on the boat on dry land can also help you decide if you need any special steps or a ramp to help get them in there in the first place.


You also want to make sure that your boat (or your friend’s boat) is equipped with a dog’s essentials. Usually when boating it is hot out, so your pup will need plenty of water and a shaded place to retreat to should they get too hot. Make sure any dangerous items are out of your pup’s reach (like fishing hooks and fish cleaning knives). Finally, your pet will have bathroom needs. You can either prepare a place on the boat with fake grass or a potty pad (so long as your pet understands that is where they should do their business) or plan frequent stops to take you pup on shore for a potty break. Pets can get anxious when they don’t know where to go potty and may try to jump out of the boat to find an appropriate place, so never let it get that far.


Plan a short test run to see how your dog feels on a boat before planning an all-day get-a-way. A lot of pets get nauseous on water and need prescriptions from a veterinarian.


Frenchie in a life jacket on a boat

Have a plan in case your dog goes overboard. We asked the owner of @etownfrenchies for some tips since they often take all of their pups out to Alder Lake, and they said that making sure your pup is comfortable in the water and knows what to do is key. So keeping the boat parked for a little, taking your pet in the water, and showing them where to swim to for you to get them back intp the boat can be helpful. It is also a good idea to always have at least two people. If you are driving the boat, it can be hard to pay attention to your pet’s needs.


We hope you found this information helpful and inspiring to take your pup on new adventures! For more information on the matter, check out the links to our sources below.


Article by Wendi Black

Photos Provided by @etownfrenchies







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