Boating with the family means just that – the whole family. Why not bring Fido along on your Harris boat so he can have the time of his life too? Pontoon boats are great doggie platforms because they’re steady and their layout enables pets to move around more freely and securely.
Here are a dozen tips to optimize boating with a dog.
1. Purchase a canine life vest with a handle
A canine PFD is essential if you plan to bring your pup on board. Make sure it fits without chafing and get your dog used to wearing it on land first.
2. Take puppy steps toward the water
Most dogs take to boating well but others may be nervous about the motion, the wind and the noise of a busy lake. Introduce them to the boat when it’s on land or steady at a dock.
3. Stick to the classic dog training methods when boating
Never force a dog to come or stay aboard your boat. Use treats and praise to reward them, just as you would for training other behaviors. Small dogs can be carried but large dogs will need a path from the dock or beach to manage on their own time.
4. Train your dog to reboard from the water
If they fall into the water or go for a swim, this may require a special pet ramp. Practice the boarding procedure repeatedly until they get the hang of it and aren’t afraid. You’ll need a plan for yourself too, especially if your dog is big and you’re boating alone.
5. Designate a launch and landing pad
Your Harris boat is an ideal platform for a dog because it’s steady, but also bring along an anti-slip mat where they can stand securely or lie down comfortably.
6. Have doggie sunscreen and insect repellent on hand
But test it first to make sure there are no allergies to these products.
7. Create a safe space
Dogs need a safe space where they can go on their own or on command if they become tired or overwhelmed. They’ll also be safer, and you won’t have them underfoot, in case of an emergency.
8. Provide shade and plenty of water
Keep fresh water and don’t allow your dog to drink from the water body you’re boating on. Keep an eye on them to check how they’re feeling or where they are. Watch out for excessive panting that could be a sign your buddy is feeling the heat.
9. Bring treats and their favorite dog food, but—
Remember, animals can get motion sickness so don’t overfeed, especially if you’ll be out all day or on choppy waters.
10. Bring potty pads or be ready to go ashore often
Training pads may be the solution for sickness messes too. If your dog doesn’t like potty pads, bring a leash and plan out frequent potty breaks on land.
11. Don’t wait to make introductions
If you have guests aboard, make sure they’ll mix well with your pet. This also goes for guests who bring their own dogs on your boat.
12. Check the weather ahead of time
There may be some days with rain or heavy wind and seas that aren’t appropriate for having a dog on a boat.
Dogs and water are a great mix, especially on stable platforms like a pontoon boat, so take your furry friend boating and you’re bound to have an even better time yourself.