6 tips for bringing man's best friend for a day on the water

November 3, 2015

Dogs are adventurous and tend to love the water — so why not let them enjoy the open lake or sea along with you? Whether you're going fishing, sailing or just relaxing, consider these tips before leaving the dock with your four-legged friend:

6 tips for bringing man's best friend for a day on the water

1. Make your boat is dog-friendly.

  • Before bringing a dog aboard, do a thorough safety check to make sure your dog will be comfortable there.
  • If you fish, make sure lures, lines and hooks are put away when not in the water. Take care of any protruding nails or sharp edges that could hurt him.
  • If your cockpit or deck is slick, put down pieces of textured tape or outdoor carpeting so he can keep his footing. Bring a board to use as a ramp on the dock if your dog is too big to carry on board.

2. Consider a dog vest.

  • Even if your dog can swim, being out in deep, choppy surf is entirely different from fetching a stick a few feet out from shore.
  • You just never know when your pooch will decide to take a dip, especially if this is your first time out with him.
  • Unless you know you can trust your dog implicitly not to dive in (or you plan to keep him leashed at all times), get him a life vest.

3. Bring dog dishes, treats and food.

  • At minimum, don't forget to bring a bowl for your dog and plenty of extra water so that everyone on board can stay hydrated.
  • Having dog treats along can come in handy if you need to coax your dog at any point during the trip. If you'll be out for more than a few hours, bring some of his kibbles along as well.

4. Pit stop.

Give your dog the chance to relieve himself before you shove off.

5. Fishing smarts.

If this is a fishing trip, don't leave bait or your catch unattended. You just never know when your curious four-legged friend might try to sample the goods.

6. Doggy sunscreen.

  • Yes, there is such a thing, and if you're going to be out in sunny conditions, you'll want to slather your pet with it — especially if he is a short hair.
  • There are specially-formulated dog sunscreens, but sensitive skin or baby sunscreen for humans can work as well. Use SPF 15 or higher and apply it generously to hairless areas like the nose.

Lastly, use common sense. Ease your dog into the nautical life gradually. Start with a short trip and see how he does; as he adapts, you can gradually work up to longer excursions. If he takes to it, you'll have the most loyal first mate in the harbour.

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