What better way to reward a human’s best friend than a boat trip? They don’t just look adorable in a life jacket – many dogs love it out on the water. And they’re not the only pets who do either! Make things extra-comfortable for you and your dog or cat, with our guide to bringing pets on board.
Life jackets for your pupper
No matter how good their doggy paddle, any pooch can struggle in difficult waters. Luckily, there is a huge range of life jackets for dogs of all shapes and sizes. Find a comfortable one that’s highly visible, with handles for easy lifting out of the water. Just don’t forget to post a photo of that cute sailor pooch, and watch the likes come flooding in!
Get your dog prepared
Not all dogs take immediately to life on board. Try to habituate your dog slowly, allowing for some initial nervousness and giving lots of attention and reassurance. Treats help! Once the boat feels like home, things will go more smoothly. Plus, more crew helps make sure someone’s always keeping an eye on the furry friend. Then, be prepared for a likely dog overboard situation. Though most won’t leap off a moving boat, make sure everyone knows what happens in that scenario: likely circling back and cutting the motor, before scooping that pooch out. Take note: diving in heroically to save Fido isn’t the safest option.
Keep your canine cool
Pooches can really feel the heat, especially in summer. Unable to sweat like we do, they need a lot of clean, fresh water to keep cool and avoid heatstroke or dehydration. Bring your own, even on freshwater boating, as lakes and rivers can be contaminated. Build a doggy shelter too: find a shady, snug spot, perhaps under an awning, console or seat – and lay a carpet down there so your dog has an easy place to grip the deck. Finally, consider investing in insect repellent and sunscreen made for dogs. Yes, your doggo can get sunburn – especially shorthaired breeds! Plus, it’s another incentive for a good doggy massage.
Doggy doo doos and don’ts
Always plan around toilet breaks! While it’s a good idea to set up a potty spot on board, some dogs will only be comfortable doing their business on land. Make that a possibility with frequent shoreline stops, and get a head start with walkies before setting off. If it happens on board, don’t forget to clean up afterwards, ideally with non-toxic, eco-friendly products!
Feline a little seasick?
Dogs aren’t the only four-legged friends you can bring boating. Ships’ cats date back centuries, and #adventurecats are bouncing back today, with countless moggies adjusting photogenically to life on the water. Most of the above advice holds for cats too, though take a few extra precautions for these stubbornly independent creatures. Fastened, closed litterboxes will prevent a lot of mess. Cats can be trained too: get your pet used to coming towards your voice in emergencies, and try to teach them gently to swim. If all else fails, take a long, large net for fishing your soggy moggy out of the water.
Any boat can suit day trips with a dog, but you might want to consider size and safety features when choosing the right boat, for you and your pet. Check out the latest powerboats, sailboats and smaller vessels for sale to see what your pup might like.