There’s nothing better than taking your four-legged friend out with you on all your nautical adventures. Dogs are perfectly capable of managing on water, but it’s important that you think carefully about their welfare, especially if it’s their first time aboard. Here are a few key safety tips to consider when introducing your faithful companion to your vessel.
1. Introductions are important
Dogs (like people) need time to adjust to new experiences. If you want your pet to be comfortable onboard, then it’s important to give them access to the boat before you set off on your first trip together. Set aside a day before your planned voyage and let your dog explore the boat whilse it’s still moored. Think about the unique experiences a boat presents and how sensitive your dog is to sound and movement. Make sure you turn on the engine so that he/she knows what it sounds feels like to be on a working vessel – if your dog is sensitive to loud noises this is especially crucial. You also need to know what you’ve got to look out for!
2. Water, water everywhere
Having enough drinking for your pet is always crucial and never more so when you’re aboard your boat. Dogs lose a lot of water when they pant so it’s important that you have ample provision to keep them hydrated. It can be very difficult to keep a bowl of water onboard, especially if your vessel is small, so it’s worth experimenting with different methods. Some dog owners use a tub with high sides but as this is not really practical if your dog is on the smaller end of the scale, it is worth teaching them how to drink out of a water bottle so that they can have refreshment whenever they need it. There are plenty of how-to videos on youtube to help you with this particular task!
3. Donning the Life Jacket
When you’re boating with man’s best friend, this is the most important pet accessory of all. However, as anyone who has tried to put a hilarious Halloween costume on their dog will attest, not every dog is receptive to being clothed. So, just as it’s important to get your dog used to the sights and sounds of the boat, you must slowly introduce the concept of the life jacket ahead of time so that you’re not faced with an endless battle on the day of your voyage and you don’t want to be constantly worrying that your dog will shuck off its life preserver at the worst moment. Be patient and kind as you are whenever you teach your dog something new – give them time and reward and eventually they’ll adjust.
4. Remember sunscreen
This is easily forgotten but it’s especially crucial for dogs with a light coat. Provide as much shade as you can on your vessel, but also take the precaution of talking with your vet and find out which sunscreen is most effective for use on your dog. Their skin burns just as easily as ours!
5. Think about the bathroom situation
This can be tricky as I can rapidly turn into a safety issue for not only our dog but also for everyone else on board – slipping is a real danger and should not be ignored. If your vessel is large enough, you can train your dog to use a specific portion of the boat to urinate and defecate. However, it’s definitely advisable to take your dog to empty its bladder before you board and to pack as many doggie bags as you can carry.
So there you have it. If you’ve never sailed before and you spot a used boat for sale then this could be your (and your pets’) greatest journey yet. Remember, with just a little preparation, you and your dog can have all the nautical fun without any of the worry. Happy high-seas adventuring!
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