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Boating with Your Pet

Boating with Your Pet

If your summer plans include boating and you intend on bringing your dog, a few safety considerations will ensure that you both enjoy the summer fun.

Know Before You Go: Basic Boating Safety Tips for Pets 

 Any time your dog leaves home, he or she should have a properly fitted collar or harness, as well as an identification tag with current contact information. If you have a boat that requires leaving a marina, call the marina ahead of time to make sure it allows pets. 

Never take your dog out under rough conditions. Whitewater rafting is not a good idea with a dog. Also watch for rough terrain on the shores before picking a safe spot to disembark.


Your dog should get acclimated to any boat before the trip while still on dry land in order to reduce any distress caused by not having its feet planted firmly on solid ground. It’s a smart idea to get your dog used to riding in a canoe, kayak or raft, for example.

  • First off, your dog should know commands like sit, down and stay.
  • Put a nonslip pad in the bottom of your boat and let your dog check out the inside of the craft.
  • Let it see you get in and out of the boat, then have your dog the same, encouraging him or her to sit or lie down in a secure sport.
  • Make sure your dog is well trained. It’s easy to tip a canoe if you shift your weight too fast and your dog’s weight shifting can also tip it as well.

Acommodating Your Pet's Basic Needs on a Boat

Dogs should be watched carefully and kept close to ensure they stay safe and comfortable when the boat leaves the dock and enters the water. If you plan on being out on the water for an extended period, we recommend making the following acommodations for your pet:

  • Create a place where your pet can urinate, such as a small litter box, or bring puppy pads.
  • When possible, try to bring along something your pet is trained to use.
  • For dogs that stay out of the water and on the boat, don’t forget that hot temperatures require increased water intake.
  • Bring extra water - a dish or bowl will do – that your dog can drink out of.
  • Having your dog’s health records on hand is also a good idea in the event of an emergency, especially if your trip exceeds a day.

Keeping your dog safe in the water

If your dog will be taking a dip in the water to stay cool this summer, there are a few precautions to take so that he or she stays safe and healthy. While many dogs love to swim, not all dogs are great swimmers.

Senior dogs, small-breed dogs, puppies, dogs with short legs and double coated dogs are all considered to be less than ideal swimmers. Also, certain breeds of dogs don’t swim as well as others – Pugs and Basset Hounds are two examples. With these types of breeds, it is recommended that you use a lifejacket or flotation device, especially if you plan to take your dog on a boat where the water tends to be deeper than at the shore.

A Note About Cats

Cats should be kept out of the water and always on a leash attached to a properly fitted harness while inside a boat. Most cats, however, would probably prefer to stay home.

Learn More

For more articles on taking your pet on outdoor adventures, please visit our pet safety tips section. If you have any other questions or concerns about planning outdoor activities with your pet, you can always contact your veterinarian for more safety advice.