Making sure our "Pals with Paws" get the most out of boating..
We know that dogs like sticking their head out of car windows, but do we really know what our dogs enjoy about boats.?
Everyone loves a "tail" with a happy ending...
We love our boats but we also love Rover, Mutley and Shep too...! They like their boating adventures as it beats being left at home, so we've put down a few ideas to enhance their time afloat.
Wag more and bark less...
Basics & Regulations. Basics such as obedience, swimming confidence and boat familiarisation should all be completed before your dogs first voyage. You may not know that there are legal regulations for dogs on boats which include; being microchipped and wearing a waterproof identification tag with contact details. If you're sailing into foreign waters you'll need a pet passport along with documentation of necessary vaccinations, and it's always best to plan ahead to find dog friendly Marinas.
Life Jackets. There are a range of life jackets for dogs which provide excellent buoyancy and protection. Even if your dog is a great swimmer, they should still wear a life jacket as water can be unpredictable. Dogs should never be lifted by their collars so, if they go overboard, you might want to consider a life jacket with a grab handle on the back for easier lifting.
Familiarisation Visits. It's best to take them on-board at a young age starting with visits of around 2 hours. Teaching key commands such as "Steady" to slow them down, and making sure they understand their boundaries will help prevent "fearless terriers" high-diving into the water. Having their favourite blanket or toy on-board shows them it's home from home as you gradually build up to longer visits. We'd also recommend taking them out in different weather conditions to test all four sea-legs.
Turf for the Toilet. Unless you've trained your dog to use the toilet (unlikley), we feel Artifical Grass is the way to go. "Turfed Pet Potties" which may sound messy are our top pick. Many are available with a closed chamber, grated system which allows waste to seep through and be disposed of easily. Some pet toilets are compact, foldable and even have antimicrobial protection meaning less odours for you!
Harness & Tether. A Harness and Tether protect your dog from going overboard or causing accidents by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We'd suggest using an "extra comfort" harness that goes around the torso and legs as they shouldn't be tethered around the neck on-board. Off cuts of non slip carpet dotted around can help with stability, as paws aren't that great at gripping decks.
Ramps & Ladders. Swimming is great for dogs, but like humans dogs tire, open their mouths at the wrong time and get carried away on currents. We'd always recommend dogs should swim in shallower waters, and there are a range of products to help them get back on-board such as ramps, ladders and mini-pontoons, many of which are portable and lightweight. Dogs should be trained to use these, but once they've got the hang of it, they can enjoy going in and out for a dip whenever they please!
Hydration Happiness. Hydration is crucial and fresh water should always be available to help keep their temperature down. The best way to provide this is with a non-spill, suctioned water bowl; available in most good pet shops. It's also worth setting an alarm at regular intervals as a reminder to check the level of the water in the bowl.
Sunscreen. Many dogs need sun protection on hot days. Areas commonly affected by sunburn are the nose, ears and abdomen. Human sunscreen often contains Zinc Oxide which is a toxin for dogs so always use a specialist pet friendly suncreen. If in doubt it's best to talk to your vet.
Gog's for Dogs. While sunglasses are standard accessories for us Humans, you can now get "Sunnies" for dogs (well they look more like goggles). Now these might be for the "pampered pooch" but they do stop UV Rays from damaging eyes. We know dogs aren't overjoyed when it comes to costume fittings so perhaps these are for those "special dogs" but we couldn't resist including them..!
And whatever you do on-board with your furry friends......
Don't let them take the helm.....