Message From Our Founder: January

Whether you have a pet or service dog, keeping them safe when swimming, boating, or playing around bodies of water is your top priority. Without taking proper safety precautions, your pet or service dog can become injured or drown while out on the water, so it is important to have training and safety measures in place to keep them safe.

Start by Gradually Introducing Your Dog to Water and the Life Jacket

One of the first things to keep in mind is that just like people, not all dogs like water. To help dogs develop a healthy relationship with water, they should first be introduced to water gradually. This allows the dog to become used to the water and to wear a life vest.

You can start this introduction to water by allowing your dog to get used to having their feet wet. Once they seem happy in the shallow waters, you can encourage them to move into deeper waters using praise and positive reinforcement. Rewarding them for being in the water can help motivate them to want to enter the water again.

As for helping them get used to a life jacket, they may quickly accept it if they are already used to wearing a harness. When your dog is calm, you can try to bring the life jacket over its head and encourage them with treats through the neck hole. Do not force the life jacket on the dog. It is recommended to only attempt to place the life jacket on the dog when they are happy and calm. When the dog allows you to place the jacket on them, be sure to praise and reward them.

Consider Your Dog’s Obedience Skills

Depending on the size of the boat, you need to make sure your dog has proper obedience training to prevent them from jumping or falling overboard.

You want to make sure your dog understands commands like “sit, down, stay”, etc., to ensure you can control them on the boat and keep them from causing a commotion or other issues.

Check for Sun Protection on the Boat and Consider the Boat’s Size

In the sun, your dog will get much hotter, must faster than you will. On smaller boats, you often won’t find adequate shade, so it won’t be appropriate to bring your dog with you on that type of boat. If it’s a service dog, you should never be separated. Therefore, you may have to skip this trip.

You also want to make sure the boat has enough space for your dog to move around and lay down comfortably in the shade.

Ensure Your Dog is Hydrated

In addition to sun protection, you want to make sure you bring ample water and your dog’s bowl. This will ensure they remain hydrated throughout the boating trip, keeping them cool and healthy.

Be Aware of Predators in Surrounding Waters

When boating in places like Florida or other alligator-infested states, you need to know if you have alligators where you live. Alligators will hunt for food at dusk and dawn, and they are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat what is easy to access. They could easily reach over on small boats and grab dogs, small children, etc.

This is a very dangerous, hideous occurrence. If you’re in infested waters, even if you don’t think there are a lot of alligators in the area, don’t take it for granted, as it could put your dog at risk.

Use these tips to stay safe on the water.

PreviousJuly’s Featured Recipient: Brian Kellum

Medical Service dog

NextService Dogs and Other Pets