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The boating dog's days of summer: Tips on boating with dogs

From BoatUS

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[August 03, 2013]  ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Some dogs were born for the water, others less so. The key to boating with dogs, says Boat Owners Association of The United States, known as BoatUS, is taking it slow and making safety the top priority. Here are eight tips to get you started:
How can you resist? However, before you bring the dog on the boat, BoatUS has some smart tips. (Credit: Jan Burgess)

Before you go:
  • Get a good-fitting life jacket and have the dog wear it a few times around the home before getting on a boat. Any pet life jacket should have a handle to easily lift the animal out of the water. Here's a buying guide with selections for dogs of all sizes:

  • Have a special ID tag with the name of the boat, marina, slip number and cellphone number on it, just in case. If dogs get lost, it's a lot easier for the person who finds them to get them back to you quickly.

  • If there is any chance you'll be going to Canada or Mexico, make sure you have current rabies vaccine and other shot documentation with you, as dog tags are not acceptable proof of immunizations. It is also a good idea to check with customs because the rules and requirements often change.

Getting started:

  • Familiarize dogs with the boat slowly -- don't just get on the boat and leave the dock right away. Ideally, bring dogs to the boat for the first time without leaving the dock, and give them a chance to sniff around and get their sea legs. It may help to start the engine so they are used the sound.

  • Plan for falls overboard, either from the boat or dock. If the dog falls overboard underway -- or jumps in -- you may be able to circle back and retrieve Fido just like a fallen water skier, pulling up slowly, cutting the engine and luring the dog to the swim platform with a treat. If you don't have a swim platform, smaller dogs may be lifted over the side by their life jacket handle, but bigger dogs may require a different solution. If a dog falls off a dock, know that seawall bulkheads may prevent the animal from a self-rescue.

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  • Bring plenty of water and make sure there's a place a dog can get out of the sun and stay as cool as possible. Know the symptoms of dog heatstroke. While seasick dogs may vomit, that's also one sign of heatstroke. Rapid, loud or difficult breathing, extreme thirst, thick saliva, disorientation, and a bright red tongue and pale gums are a few of the others.

  • If you're going to be out on the boat for more than a few hours, plan on how your dog will relieve themselves, and pick up after your dog, no matter where they go. If you see that someone else didn't pick up after their dog, pick it up for them. You don't want to give any opportunity to show why dogs shouldn't be allowed in your marina, and your boating friends will love you for it.

  • Does your boat's insurance policy cover pets? All BoatUS policies do. For more information, go to


Boat Owners Association of The United States is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters, providing its over half-million members with government representation, services such as 24-hour on-the-water boat towing as well as roadside assistance for boat trailers and tow vehicles, feature-packed boat insurance programs, money-saving benefits that include marina and West Marine shopping discounts, and vital information that improves the boating, fishing and sailing lifestyle. Its member-funded BoatUS Foundation is a national leader in promoting safe, clean and responsible boating.

[Text from file received from BoatUS]

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