Top Tips for Boating With Your Dog This Season
Calling all water fiends and boating enthusiasts! With warmer weather sweeping over the Lakes Region, we know many of you are ready to start summer adventures with your dog! For some of your that means heading out on the lakes for the start of boating season! Whether you and your dog are heading out in a motorboat on Lake Winnipesaukee, kayaking around Lake Opechee, or taking your party barge to the sand bar in Lake Winnisquam, you’ll want to read our tips below on how to safely boat with your dog!
Top 3 Tips for an Enjoyable Boating Experience with Your Dog
Make a Plan to Keep your Dog Safe and Happy on the Boat
Having a plan is one of the most important steps you can take when going on any adventure with your pup. Talk with those you will be boating with about keeping an eye on the dog. Is it a group effort, or primarily the job of one person?
Make sure to also bring fresh water for them as well as food or treats depending on the duration of your outing. They may also need access to shade depending on how hot it is, their age, their health, etc.
In addition, it is a good idea to have a plan for what you will do if your dog accidentally goes overboard. Have the operator cut the engine and have someone calling the dog back and then help the dog get on board again. These safety measures and precautions can go a long way when boating with your four legged friends.
Proper Expose Your Dog to the Boating for Longterm Success
If it is your dog’s first time on a boat or they are nervous, make sure that they are properly exposed to the situation so that it is fun and enjoyable for everyone. For first timers, bring your dog’s favorite treat, toy, or whatever their biggest motivator happens to be. When they approach the boat or step on to it, reward them with their motivator which will teach them that they receive something good every time they come in contact with the boat.
After practicing this for however long it takes them to feel comfortable, reward them for being on the boat when it is running. The sound and feeling of a running engine is no problem for some dogs, but can be terrifying for others. Make sure to respond to what your dog is telling you. If they need a break, try again in a little while, or maybe a few days later. If they are super excited about the boat, venture out onto the lake and enjoy!
The first couple of boat rides that your dog accompanies you for may need to be short so that they can get used to the boat without feeling stuck for too long or overwhelmed. It may seem like a lot of steps to introduce your dog to your boat, but if they are nervous, going slow is the best solution for getting them to enjoy going out on the boat with you!
Use a Doggie Life Jacket
It may sound silly, but not all dogs can swim or enjoy the water at all for that matter. If you are questioning your dog’s ability to swim safely in the event that something does happen, investing in a life jacket for them is a great solution. Your dog may go into the water by accident, but a life jacket will keep them afloat until you can help them, if they are struggling to help themselves.
Even if you already taught your dog how to swim and your dog does enjoy the water, life jackets can be a good tool for them regardless due to unpredictable waters and currents. In the event that your dog needs to be pulled out of the water, you can grab the handle of the life jacket, which most are made with. Grabbing this is a great alternative to grabbing their collar which you should never do if you are pulling them out of the lake. Many life jackets are also vibrant or have reflective strips which make it easier for you to locate your dog.
Each of these three tips are designed to help you and your dog have the best boating experience possible now that all of the ice is melting from the lakes. The team here at Homeward Bound wishes you the best for your boating season!