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10 Tips for Boating with Dogs

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Many Minnesotans agree that boating is one of the best parts of summer! From fishing to water sports to a leisurely ride, life seems to be better on the lake. Boating is such an enjoyable activity that some pet owners choose to bring their dogs aboard to join in on the fun. While some dogs enjoy boat rides as much as car rides, we do want to remind pet owners of a few rules while out on the water:

1. Identification

It’s important to have visible ID tags on your dog’s collar in addition to a microchip. This is in case your dog runs off the dock or abandons ship and swims to shore. We recommend putting your mobile number on the ID tag.

2. Heat

If it’s too hot and humid out, don’t bring your dog with you on the boat. It’s that simple.

3. Water and Shade

Whenever your dog is outside, there should be access to shade and fresh, clean water. Pack a water dish along with a water jug that’s just for your dog. If possible, let your dog sit in the shade under a boat canopy or a table. No shade access on your boat? Then limit your time on the water.

4. Leash

Keep your dog on a leash while getting on the boat, while the boat is in motion, and while exiting the boat. This will decrease the risk of your dog running off the dock or falling overboard on the boat. If you’re on a crowded boat or if your dog is new to boating, keep your dog on-leash even when the boat isn’t in motion. This is very important if anyone is fishing in order to avoid a hook catching your dog.

5. Pet-Friendly Sunscreen

There is such a thing as dog-friendly sunscreen and we recommend using it if your dog needs it! Ask your family veterinarian for recommendations. DO NOT use human sunscreen on your dog as it can be toxic.

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6. Dog Life Jackets

Like kids, your dog should be wearing a life jacket too! Invest in one that is properly fitted for your dog’s size. Keep in mind that not every dog is a fan of the water or “just knows” how to swim. If you want to teach your dog how to swim, here are a few great tips! Also, if you spot blue-green algae, DO NOT let your dog or the humans jump in the water!

7. Potty Breaks

If you plan to be on the boat for a while, bring a few pee pads or similar products so your dog can pee. Don’t want your dog to relieve himself on the boat? Then plan a few breaks to bring your dog back to shore.

8. Pet First Aid Kit

Your pet may get injured or your boat could stall and leave you stranded. In these instances, you’ll be thankful you packed a pet first aid kit. Keep these ten essentials, as well as a few toys, in the kit!

9. Pay Attention

Not every dog is going to love being on a boat. For the first trip, only go out on the water for a short while. Keep your dog on the leash and closely watch his behavior. You are the best one to determine if your dog is having fun or not.

10. Have an Emergency Plan 

Before you take your dog out on the boat, develop an emergency plan in case your dog goes overboard. Do not assign any tasks to the driver. Choose one person who will be in charge of watching your dog at all times. If your dog can swim, someone should be able to help him safely get back on the boat. If your dog cannot swim, someone should be prepared to jump into the water.

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Whether your dog is a less experienced boating dog or not, always look up the closest animal hospital or pet ER. Write down the phone number, address, and directions. This way, if your pet does experience an emergency, you’ll know exactly where to go!

We hope these tips help prepare you and your dog for your boating adventures! Have a safe time at the lake!

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