If you are new to boating or have recently gotten a dog, you might wonder: Is it safe to bring a dog on a boat? By taking care of a few simple details, boating with a pet on board is fun and rewarding for everyone. Taking dogs on a wake boat for the first time can be overwhelming for them with so many new things to see, smell and experience. When learning how to boat with dogs, first start with a little training on land to get them acclimated.
Even if a dog is a good swimmer, they can sometimes overdo it and get dangerously tired so having them wear a life jacket is a good precaution. Make sure it fits properly and doesn’t chafe. Get them used to wearing it at home first and if it’s in the offseason and as an added bonus, it will help keep them warm during walks. The big plus is dog life jackets have handles on top, which makes it easy to haul them onto the swim platform or onboard after a swim. For the first few outings, you can clip a retractable leash to the life jacket so they don’t swim too far out, but note here that you should never let your dog jump in unsupervised whether on or off a leash.
Sometimes dogs can get overexcited on boats or they are just underfoot when you are getting ready for a water sports set. So, it’s a good idea for dogs to have a place on the boat where they can go to get a break from the action.
Get a floor mat with rubber backing so it doesn’t slide around and first get them used to it at home. Use the reward system by placing some treats on it and when all four paws are on the mat give them more and praise them. Introduce a command like “MAT!” when you want them to go there, followed by treats. Then, when you need your dog to chill on the boat, they’ll know right where to go, and the beauty of a mat is it can be moved to different places on the boat as needed.
Even if the water where you ski is clean, lake water can make a dog sick so make sure fresh water is always available. Use a spill-resistant bowl that has a lip around the outside to avoid splashing and place it on a silicone mat to keep it from sliding around. Use another non-spill bowl for food.
Dogs on wake boats will eventually need to take care of business, so make sure to take a shore-bound break every so often.
If that’s impractical, consider getting a fake grass mat to designate as their go-to spot. Train them to use it at home first before trying it out on board.
Taking a dog out on your Heyday is not only doable, it also helps create great memories for the whole family.