Taking your dog with you on a boat sounds like so much fun. A recent survey indicated that 62% of Americans take their dogs on boats. But a dog that is not properly trained to ride in a boat on the water can become scared or excited. The last thing you need out on the water is a big, young, dog jumping around knocking things, and people, overboard! Also, boats can be tippy--you can run the risk of capsizing if your dog doesn't sit calmly and quietly on the boat with you. If you're out camping or hunting and would like your dog to join you on the water, there are a few things you should do to prepare, and train him, to comfortably ride in a boat so that your boat trip does not end up as a swimming trip, or a rescue mission!
Before teaching your dog to ride in a boat you should address safety concerns. Dogs can drown and are not necessarily adept at swimming. If possible, teach your dog to swim before putting him in a boat so he is used to the water and less likely to panic. You should always use a dog life vest, even if your dog can swim. A dog that is injured in a capsize, confused, or far from shore, needs a flotation device to aid them in case of an accident. Dog life vests are available commercially, make sure you have an appropriately sized vest for your dog, and that it is fitted and adjusted correctly. Prior to training your dog to ride in a boat, get him used to the life vest by allowing him to wear it for short periods of time and taking your dog on walks with the life vest on. A harness is a better idea to restrain a dog on a boat then a collar. A harness can be used to more safely lift an overboard dog out of the water, as it does not put pressure on the neck.