Don’t feel like you have to leave your furry friend at home when you go boating. With proper planning and precautions, your dog can enjoy a day on the water, too. At Norfolk Marine, we know that your dog is a beloved member of the family, so we created a guide to help you become more comfortable with including your dog on the next big adventure. You can find us in Norfolk, Virginia near Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Suffolk for all your boating needs.

Your Dog’s Water Comfort

One of the first things you’ll want to consider is how comfortable your dog is with water. Some dogs would sprint into the ocean and go for a swim if given the chance. Other dogs would rather be safely snuggled up in your lap. If your dog fell overboard, could they safely swim back to the boat or remain afloat until they were rescued? This is an important question you need to ask yourself. Some older dogs may not have the stamina to handle this type of danger. Some smaller dogs may develop hypothermia faster. You should only bring a dog onto the boat if you are confident they’ll be able to handle themselves in and out of the water.

Create an Emergency Plan

Accidents can happen and having an emergency plan in place can make all the difference in the outcome. If your dog ever falls overboard, you want to be prepared to act in a moment’s notice. There’s always one member of the family the dog is drawn to the most. This person should immediately call the dog’s name and in a perfect scenario, the dog will swim to the boat so they can be brought back to safety. If the dog doesn’t come when called, there should be one person designated to jump in and rescue the little guy.

Pack Your Supplies

Pack necessary supplies for your dog before you go boating. You’ll want to have access to plenty of fresh water because you can’t rely on the quality of the water you’ll be surrounded by on the boat. The last thing you want is for your dog to get sick from drinking contaminated water. Your dog should always be wearing a collar and tags for when you dock and get back on land. Dogs are like family, so they will need to wear a lifejacket, too! Water conditions can change in an instant, so a lifejacket is a reassurance that your dog will be safe if things get choppy.

Treats and toys may not be considered essential when it comes to supplies, but they can certainly improve your dog’s boating experience. If there’s any first-timer anxiety, treats and toys can help with that. It may also be a good idea to have treats and toys handy in case they are needed to reinforce positive behavior.

Use Caution When Fishing

Fishing tends to be a favorite pastime for many boaters. Be extra cautious if you choose to fish when your dog is aboard the boat. Dogs are excitable by nature, but even more so when boating. The sharp hooks can pose a danger if your dog isn’t able to sit quietly and behave while you fish.

Your Dog’s Needs

New environments can cause dogs unwanted stress. Take the time to help your buddy get used to the boat before you take on the open water. Once all family member and friends are aboard, have them talk in reassuring, calm voices to the dog. Make use of your dog’s favorite treats and toys when they’re getting familiar with the boat. You can repeat these steps a few times until you feel your dog is comfortable. Always be aware of his or her needs. Make sure there’s enough food and water, but don’t overfeed them. Watch for any signs of discomfort like whining or pacing so you can head back to shore if needed.

We’re here to help you get prepared, so come on by if you need any supplies or maintenance. Our dealership in Norfolk, Virginia proudly serves Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Suffolk.