Boating with Dogs: Planning for a Dog-Friendly Boat Cruise
Boating with dogs is one of our favorite activities. If you’ve got a canine member of the family, we’re sure you’ve been tempted to bring him along on your weekend boat cruise! We welcome dogs at GBC. Dogs love to be included in the family outings, and most are not afraid of the water and are natural swimmers.
But boating with dogs takes a little planning and forethought. The weather in South Florida can be hot and unpredictable, and much as you would take precautions for children aboard, Gulfstream Boat Club can recommend certain steps you can take to make your dog’s time aboard safe, comfortable, and successful.
Here are six tips for preparing to successfully spend the day with your dog on a boat:
- Buy a dog life preserver. Though most South Florida dogs are strong swimmers, and used to the water, once out at sea you could encounter currents, rough weather, or waves. Your dog could fatigue quickly if he falls overboard. It’s also easier with a life preserver to get hold of him and pull him aboard should he fall off the boat; grabbing his collar is never a good idea. Most pet stores, pet retail websites, and Amazon offer dog life preservers of every size and price point. Choose a bright color so it’s easier to spot in the water. Take the life preserver for a trial run; make sure it’s comfortable and fits well, and that he’s used to it before the big day. If you need suggestions on which to buy, give us a call at GBC.
- Make sure your dog has ID! Many dogs have an ID microchip implanted, which is helpful if you are separated for any reason. His collar ID tag probably has your phone number, but you might even want to add a second land-based phone number as well, just in case.
- Have a plan if your dog goes overboard. A life preserver is part one of this action plan; but you’ll also want to think about what steps to take: cut the engine, call him to the ladder; have a DDW (Designated Doggie Watcher) who is always keeping an eye on his whereabouts once at sea. Notice which areas of the boat get slippery. Again, you can practice boating with dogs before your next boat cruise in a pool. Have him swim to you or to the ladder.
- Visit the boat with your pet prior to your trip. Stop by Marina Delray before your next GBC boat cruise with your dog and we’d be happy to let him walk around the boat while it’s docked. We can even turn it on, so he gets used to the engine vibration and noise. Letting your dog get acquainted with the boat and the marina before going out on the water is a great idea, and will make him more comfortable when the big day comes. Make sure there’s enough room in the shade for him to sit comfortably.
- Hydrate your dog. If you’re going to be out boating in the sun all day, make sure your dog has had plenty to drink before coming aboard—and pack plenty more for the trip. Dogs get overheated easily. You may even want to purchase a no-spill dog bowl to bring on board. A sports bottle can also be handy for squirting water into his mouth.
- Consider packing a few extra supplies for his comfort. Does your dog get motion sickness? If so, consult your veterinarian about medication. Purchase a few dog first-aid supplies as well; here is a handy checklist for your kit.
Congratulations; now you’re ready to combine your two favorite passions: boating, and spending time with your dog! Gulfstream Boat Club has several more tips for once you’re on board. Stay tuned for Part Two of our “Guide to Boating with Dogs.”
Boating is our passion; make it yours. With four locations in Palm Beach County, and a fleet of 20-plus boats, Gulfstream Boat Club is the premier boat club in South Florida. Ready to get out on the water? Give us a call at 561.856.7797!