Boating with your dog

Helming the boatBoating season will soon begin in northern regions, and many boat owners will be bringing their dogs with them when they go aboard.

Divinity was fascinated with boats, and at one place we lived, she enjoyed watching the restoration of a wooden powerboat. On her walks, she’d work her way to the boat, to check out the latest updates.

Divinity also skippered her own boat in a virtual round-the-world race where she became the Fastest Ocean-Racing Cairn Terrier on the Planet. Unfortunately, I was not able to find someone to take her for an actual boat ride before she died of cancer. Going for a boat ride had been an item on Divinity’s “Bucket List.” Sadly, Divinity was not able to go boating before she died.

Keeping your dog safe while aboard

The information provided below is a general “overview” to safely bring your dog on your boat. For additional information, please click the following links.

* Dogs on Boats 101

* How to Keep Pets Safely Afloat

* The Canine Crew

* Boating With Your Pets: 9-Safety Tips

* Passagemaker Magazine: Readers stories about boating with their pets

Life Jackets

Dog life jackets are a necessity. Life jackets provide buoyancy, and their high visibility helps keep your pet safe.

A dog life jacket is a must-have safety item for the dog owner who takes their pet with them on aquatic excursions. Many pets enjoy boating. However, not all dogs are strong swimmers, and some may not be able to swim at all!

Dog life jackets make it easy to get an overboard dog back to safety by placing a sturdy handle on the harness. They also act as flotation devices to keep less capable swimmers above water.

Get a brightly colored life jacket with a handle on top, this will them much easier to see and retrieve. Get your dog used to wearing their PFD before setting out on a boat.

How much do you need to spend on a lifejacket for your dog? The answer to that question is easy, how much is your dog’s life worth to you?



Long hours in the sun without adequate eye protection increase the chances of developing eye disease. Absorbent sunglasses and sun-goggles can help protect your eyes and the eyes of your pet from sun damage.

Doggles, or other pet sunglasses, are actually goggles for dogs, and provide protection from foreign objects, wind, and UV light.


Safe on the Leash?

If you must keep a leash on your dog while on your boat, either handhold the leash, or put the leash under your foot. If your dog strains at the leash constantly, the answer is more training, not a bigger leash.

Question: Should I tie my dog’s leash to the boat?
Answer: In an emergency (fire/sinking), you might need to abandon the boat in a hurry. In such a situation, or if your boat should capsize, you will want your dog to be able to swim free of the boat. The leash is to help you maintain control of your dog while for getting in, and getting out of the boat.

Safe on the Leash

Sun and Heat Protection

Excessive sun exposure can cause heat problems for animals. Just as with humans, they include sun stroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion. Providing a shaded are for your pet is a good idea. Again, give them plenty of water. Let them take a dip in the water to cool them down if necessary.

Boat surfaces, such as fiberglass, can get extremely hot in the sun. Dogs absorb heat through the pads on their feet, so be sure to provide protection for their paws from the heat.

Sun protection can be as simple as a towel draped above your dog like a canopy, a hat, or even a portable doggy tent.

Dog CanopyHat

Dining Area

You need to provide a place for your dog to eat & drink, and if possible, give them a non-slip rug, or mat to stand on!

Note: Always have lots of water for your dog. Whether sailing, at anchor, or in a marina, always make sure to have water available for your dog to drink.

Dining Area
Nautical Potty-Pad

“Almost every boat with a dog has a piece of carpet or Astroturf somewhere on deck as the designated “spot.”

“A piece of AstroTurf, or a box of sod can work as a substitute when landfall is not possible. Some people just train their dogs to go on the boat deck, though this is difficult and often dangerous while underway (not to mention, yuck). The problem isn’t where to go, it is getting your dog to understand it is OK to go. This can be really tricky to do with an older dog. Start training on the boat as soon as possible.”

The Boat Galley posted a good article on how to potty train a dog on a boat. To read this article, click HERE.

Dog Potty Area

 Be safe, and enjoy the water with your dog!

Enjoying the water

The Ultimate Dog Crew


One response

  1. Pingback: Divinity’s Blog – 7th Anniversary! « Divinity

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