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The Dog Days of Summer- How to Get Boating with Your Pooch

by: Tami Perera

No one wants to be left on the dock! Regal, our beloved cockapoo, had his first boat ride at approximately 12 weeks old. Yes, he was named after the boat brand and its very suiting to his personality. Being avid boaters throughout summer, this was something we wanted Regal to get used to, and fast. We were lucky enough to borrow a dog life jacket from a friend to see how the experience went before we invested in one.

Regal loved it! Tongue out, wind in his face, I mean what else could a dog love more? I made sure to keep him on my lap when underway as I didn’t want the 8 lbs pup to fly out. When we’re boating with Regal, we make sure that he has plenty of fresh water in a collapsible dish that we keep on board for times he is with us. At first, we didn’t go out too long, as puppies need to do business more often, so we took him on short trips for the first summer we had him.

Now at five years old, Regal is an avid boater! Now that we can go out longer he loves to swim, and chase a water ball, as well as sit on my lap and cruise around. We got Regal a life jacket that has a handy handle (no pun intended), and it allows me to grab him from the water and bring him onto the swim platform. There are some boat stairs/ramps for purchase online, but they can be a bit pricey. Be sure you can get your dog back in the boat without them hurting their paws on the engine drive or platform. If your dog is a heavy one, a swim at the boat launch or somewhere off shore is a great choice after a boat ride. I recommend “after” as we learned the the hard way when Regal got pretty cold during a ride home because he was wet from an earlier swim. Be sure to bring a few old towels specifically for your dog, and have them dried off somewhat before heading out. When leaving or returning to the the dock, I make sure I shorten his leash and clip it somewhere inside the boat while I help out with the lines.This way he does not jump off and end up in-between the dock and boat, or on the dock and run away.

Over five years of boating with Regal, I've compiled this list of helpful tips so you can bring your pooch onboard too:

Tips for Boating With Your Dog

  • Always have fresh water available

  • A collapsible water dish is very handy to keep on board and avoid dehydration

  • Invest in a good canine PFD. It should be snug, but not digging into them. Check the weight recommendations

  • Teach them to sit on the seat next to you as they can slide around on the floor area when underway or if the bow lifts up

  • Make sure your dog will not be that dog that jumps overboard while underway. Keeping a hold of their lifejacket or leash is a good idea

  • Lots of good treats. This makes the experience seem like a positive one for them

  • Bring a toy for them to chew on if you spend some time anchored

  • Have a soft bed they can rest or sit on for comfort

  • Snacks and food if you are out during those hungry times

  • If they jump from the boat for a swim when anchored, be sure the engine is off and they don’t slip on any stairs, as they can hurt their legs/hips

  • Give them shade, whether under the bimini top or an umbrella. This is very important as dogs can get heat stroke and even sunburn

  • Be sure they do their business before you board!

Being able to take Regal on boat rides is so much fun. Regal is a part of our family and it’s a great way to interact and have a really wonderful day boating together.

If you've got pictures of your pooch on the boat, we'd love to see them!

We've also got lots of other great tips for boating with your canine companion.

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