10 Tips On Safe Boating With Your Pet

Taking your pet on the water is a great way to bond and share an adventure together! Many times boaters can go underprepared when they bring their pets along for fun which can create unwanted stress on both the captain and the pet. You may be surprised to learn that many pets, dogs especially, love boating just as much as their owners do! Here are a few tips that are going to make the time on the water with your pet that much more enjoyable. 

  1. Make sure to bring plenty of fresh water and a means to allow your pet to comfortably drink it. There are many different types of dateroand food g bowls that are made to store easy. There are even dog bowls that will prevent spills while underway and still allow your pet to drink from them. Many people utilize a collapsable dog bowl that can be stowed and transported easily. We prefer a non marking water bowl that is insulated to keep water cool.
  2. A good fitting pet life jacket is one of the most important safety items for boating with your pet. A quality, well-fitted life jacket will ensure that your pet enjoys wearing it. Comfort is very important here because you want your pet wearing the life jacket while on the boat. Just like you have a jacket for all passengers on your boat, your pet deserves one as well. One important feature on a dog life jacket is a grab handle on the back. This will make loading your pet back into the boat much easier on both you and the animal. Even the strongest swimmers need a life jacket. Currents, rough waters, stress will all affect your pet's ability to swim so take no chances and keep the life jacket on them. A bright colored jacket is also important for visibility. 
  3. Always be sure to bring toys and treats along for the ride. Make sure these toys are water friendly and engaging. Just like you, your pet is there to have fun so bring their favorites or maybe even pick some up just for the boat. 
  4. Make sure there is plenty of shade for your pet to get out of the heat. The sun can be draining and exhausting. Having shade for your pet will help them to regulate their body heat and stay safe and cool. This is equally important to you and your passengers. Other solutions to keep cool include a cooling vest for your pet
  5. Give your pet plenty of opportunity to go potty before your adventure. While out in the sun, your pet will be drinking lots of water so make sure to give them a potty break. Pets demeanor and enjoyment will be affected if they are forced to hold their bladder so give them plenty of opportunity. Some boaters spend all day or even multiple days on the water. You will want to train your pet to go potty on a washable potty pad kept in a specific location on your boat. Also keep a floating leash and harness handy for potty breaks on shore. 
  6. Create a Pet Overboard Plan! In the rare chance that your pet might fall overboard, you need a plan to get them back to safety as soon as possible. Pets may have the instinct to swim away from the boat looking for land so make sure everyone who comes on board knows to keep an eye on the pet at all times and knows what to do if they fall overboard. This is where a life jacket with a handle will help. 
  7. Sunscreen, insect repellant and a pet specific first aid kit. Just like us, our pets are vulnerable to skin cancer and sunburns. Animal safe sunscreen on the nose and areas where fur is thin is very important for an enjoyable time on the water. Pets can also be bitten by mosquitoes, and other insects that carry diseases. A bug spray specifically for animals will help prevent this. Do Not use bug spray for humans on your pet. 
  8. Get your pet used to the boat. Before you embark on an adventure with your pet, let them get comfortable with your boat on land or on smooth water. Start the motor and ease them into it before heading too far. Pet anxiety can be a big issue and you want them to have as much fun as you so pay attention to their demeanor. 
  9. Try to have another passenger aboard to help you keep an eye on your pet. Boating alone with your pet can be distracting resulting in unsafe operation. You should always know where your pet is and what they are doing. There are many instances where pets are lost overboard because their humans weren't paying attention and drove off without them. 
  10. Have fun!

Please share your boating pet pictures in the comments below and add any tips that have helped you and your pet!


  • Rocky out here sunning his buns! Good list West Marine! We use the Yeti dog bowls on our boat and they work great and keep his water cool. I really like the idea of the cooling vest too. I will have to order one of those.

  • This boy thinks he's the captain! Great tips. Something else to think of is the surface temp of your boat. It is a rule on my boat that I have to be able to hold my hand flat on any surface for at least 5 full seconds without any pain from the heat before my dog steps on it. We don't always know surface temps if we are wearing flip flops or shoes. Another tip is to give them a space out of the wind that they feel safe in. After a long ride, I can tell my dog just wants to get out of the wind and the noise. He's got a bed at the foot of the passenger seat with a wind break that he knows to go to to relax.

  • Has anyone tried using the floating dog ramps or floating dog stairs that attach to the back of their boat for their dog? Do these boat ramps for dogs actually work?

  • My dog Ben would literally run or swim until he died if you aren't paying attention. He is so excited to swim and fetch that it's hard to notice when he's getting too tired to hold his head out of water. Getting him his own life jacket was the best investment ever. It keeps him safe and gives us peace of mind. I can't express enough how important it is to make your pet wear a quality life jacket that actually helps to keep their head above water.

    I love seeing all of these happy water dogs! Thanks for sharing your puppers everyone!

    Amanda -

  • We spot trained our two to stay put when the boat is underway. We did this by rewarding them with a treat when they would go to their dog mat. We then put the mat in the safest spot on the boat where they are always in view and won't slide around in rough water. The cue is "go to your spot" and they go and sit and stay. It helps us focus on navigating the boat while also keeping an eye on the pups at all times while underway. - Britton and Lewis

    Also bring potty pads! They always need to go when you least expect it.

  • @Aquaholic1 Yea we have the Solstice pup plank and we love it! We have the large one and it works great for any size of dog. It's very rigid and durable, much like our paddle boards. Our dog learned how to use it right away and she can easily get in and out of the boat. The inflatable dog boat ramp also makes for an awesome little float raft when she is tired of swimming but wants to be in the water with her family. It stores in a nice storage bag and has a pump that comes with it. It attaches to any boat deck or dock. Well worth the price and out dog absolutely loves it.

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