Not long ago, we wrote about keeping your dog safe when splashing on the shore or enjoying a swim. We also noted that much as most dogs love the water, many don't; if Katie is telling you loud and clear that she hates getting her feet wet, or Rufus just looks at you strangely when you call him to join you in the water, you might both be happier to find some other activity you can do together.
But say you have a true Aquadog, and with summer here, you'd like to take water fun to the next stage: rafting, kayaking, boating, or otherwise sharing a watercraft with him. Here are some tips. As in all situations where you don’t want Ginger bouncing off the walls, some good healthy exercise before you embark will promote smooth sailing.
Perfect That Recall
It's a bad, and dangerous, idea to leash your dog to the boat, and there may be situations where you can't hold onto a leash. That's why it's essential to make sure your watergoing canine has perfect recall and will come to you no matter what--whether he's suddenly disoriented in the water, or all too interested in the buffet on the next boat.
Life Jackets. For Dogs
You wouldn't take your human friends boating unless they were wearing life jackets, right? Even if your canine friend is a great swimmer, it's a good idea for him to wear one (AKA a Pet Flotation Device) too; aside from keeping Fido afloat if he falls overboard, these jackets have a handle that allows for easy retrieval.
Sea Legs. All Four of Them.
Even dogs who love to swim might not be so happy with the rocking motion of boats if they've never left terra firma. Before you take off on your grand adventure, spend the time (and treats) required to make him comfortable getting in and out of the boat (a game! Woohoo!) and ready to settle down. Working up to your outing by easy stages close to the shore can save you both from unwanted plunges.
Pick the Right Spot. And the Right Watercraft
Wild party scenes, turbulent water, big crowds, loud motorboats—give these scenes a miss. Head for a peaceful lake, a slow-moving river, a relaxing environment free of stressful, often dangerous distractions.
At many destinations, you and Skipper will have your choice of different watercraft. Pick one with a low center of gravity, for greater stability. Also look for one with enough flat surface that your canine passenger can stretch out in comfort without disruptive fidgeting. (Speaking of comfort, dogs don't like standing in bilge water; have a plan for keeping the bottom of the boat dry.) As with all fun family outings, a bit of planning and practice will help keep everyone happy—and safe.