You love spending time with your dog, and your dog loves spending time with you. So why leave your pooch home when you go boating? Many boaters love to bring their dogs boating.


  • Get your dog a lifejacket. Your dog might be a good swimmer when you take him for a walk around a local lake. But in challenging conditions that you might encounter off your boat, like currents or rough surf, it can be a different story. Be safe and purchase a good lifejacket for your dog.
  • Have a plan to get your dog onboard. Whether he is chasing something he sees or simply falls off the boat, there’s a good chance your canine will fall overboard at some point. Don’t wait until that happens to figure out how to get him back onboard. Come up with a plan ahead of time for how to get your dog back on your boat.
  • Introduce your dog to your boat slowly. Being in a new environment like a boat can be an intimidating experience for your dog. Slowly introduce your dog to boating life, first by visiting your boat but not leaving the dock, and then by taking short trips. Dogs can get seasick just like humans, and short trips will help them get used to being on the water.
  • Bring lots of water. Dogs drink a lot of water. That’s especially true if they’re on a boat under the hot sun. If you’re offshore, they’re obviously not going to drink saltwater. Even if you’re a freshwater boater, lakes are often contaminated and have bacteria that is harmful when ingested. Be safe and carry plenty of clean water for your dog.
  • Have your dog wear a harness. If you need to grab your dog to lift him onto the boat, you don’t want to grab him by the collar because that would put all the pressure on his neck. Instead, have your dog wear a harness.
  • Be prepared for “potty issues.” Figure out a plan for how to have your dog go to the bathroom while boating. Will you make lots of stops, or will you just clean up after your dog on your boat? Your dog won’t necessarily understand the difference between being outdoors on a boat and being outdoors at a park. Be prepared to clean up messes. Also, bring bags to clean up your dog’s waste and dispose of it properly.
  • Have sun protection. Short-haired dogs can get sunburns just like humans. You may need to apply sunscreen to your dog. If you do, use unscented sunscreen so it doesn’t bother your pooch.
  • Rinse your dog after he’s been swimming. Your dog is going to want to swim when he goes boating. When he comes back onboard, rinse him down. That’s especially important if he’s been swimming in saltwater. If you don’t give him a rinse, not only could that saltwater get all over your boat, it can irritate his skin.