Boating with dogs – 11 tips on how to keep your dog safe!


Boating provides a fantastic lifestyle and holiday choice for many people. But how can a family holiday be the same without your trusty companion and best friend, your dog!

If you would like to take your dog out on the boat, here are 11 important safety tips that will make the trip safer, easier and more comfortable for you and your dog.

  1. Identification

Have a secure ID tag for your dog that includes:

  • Your dog’s name
  • Your boat’s name
  • Boats usual location / marina
  • A phone number.
  • An alternate number for someone on land
  1. Familiarisation

You will need to familiarise your dog with the boat and the water. Many dogs will take to boating naturally but others will need some time getting used the idea. Introduce your dog to the boat slowly, have some fun, play fetch and use positive rewards.

Boating with dogs Photo The Dog Effect

  1. Doggy life jacket (PFD)

Even if you dog is a good swimmer, it is very important that your dog wears a doggy life jacket while on board. An article by explains why. Always buy a life jacket with a rescue handle.

  1. Remove hazards

Keep the deck clear of hazards.  Remember your dog doesn’t have hands to quickly reach out and grab something to hold onto if he stumbles and falls.

  1. Traction

To help with your doggy grip problems, add extra traction on the deck. Try non-slip mats or carpet or stick on deck grips.

  1. Keep look out

Always be alert.  Dogs can easily get into trouble and may need your help quickly. If you need to tether your dog use a short lead and attach the lead to your dog life jacket, not their collar.  At night or at busy times, keep him inside the cabin.

Boating with dogs Photo The Dog Effect

  1. Rescue and retrieve

Train your dog to swim to the rear of the boat so that you can lift him up gently by the rescue handle on the life jacket. There are ramps available that connect to your boat and allows your dog to scramble on board.

  1. Weather

Check the weather before you leave and consider if the conditions are appropriate for boating with your dog.  On board, protect your dog from the rain and wind with cover and warmth and in summer provide shade and sunscreen.

  1. Food and water

Always have fresh water available for your dog. Use food and water bowls that are not going to slide away or tip over on the deck.

  1. Toilet on board

Your well trained dog won’t want to pee on your boat and will try to hold it in. If you are near land, plan toilet stops for your dog. If not, choose a place on the boat that you are happy for your dog to go to the toilet and start training him to use this spot.  Using a square of fake grass might help.

  1. Vet Checkup

If you are boating for an extended time or distance, ensure your dog is in tip top shape before you go set sail. Stock up on some doggy medication and first aid supplies just in case.

Lastly, watch your dog’s behaviour. If your dog becomes sick or scared on the boat it is best not to subject him to the experience. He may be a landlubber and will wait at home eagerly for you to return.

Read more about our favourite four legged friends at The Dog Effect