Things to Know – Taking Your Dog on a Boat for the First Time

Bringing your four-legged friend on a boat can be a pleasant experience or a nuisance to everyone. Here are steps you can take to make sure that your dog feels comfortable when on board.

The dog needs to know basic commands

This might be a general rule, but one that matters the most for a dog that is the first time on a boat. The moment you call it, it needs to obey the command without hesitation. The thing is that a dog continually running on board can be a danger not only to itself but to others as well as it can unintentionally push you or others off the board.

Get the dog on a docked boat

If possible bring the dog on the boat when docked. That way he can get acquainted with it. Next time when you bring it, start the engine so it can get accustomed to the sound. Then, have a short ride. That way the dog feels more and more comfortable being on the boat. It is also an excellent opportunity to teach it how to go on and off the boat.

Check if your dog can swim

Most dogs are natural swimmers. But, it is for the best to check if your dog doesn’t fall in the minority category. In case it can’t swim, make sure that you got a life jacket for dogs on it every time it is on the boat.

Train your dog to get back on the boat

That is in case it falls into the water. You can do that while at dock. Teach it to come to a platform or a ladder from where you can easily grab it. If you own a smaller dog, you can use a fishing net to take it out of the water.

Remove the leash when your dog is on board

Instead, use a harness. The thing is that leashes can be dangerous to the dog, especially if it is in the water where waves can toss the dog around, pressuring your dog’s neck. On the other hand, a harness is placed around the legs and torso. That way the pressure is not entirely on the neck, but evenly distributed on the other parts.

Buy seasickness medications for your dog

Your veterinarian can give you a prescription for seasickness medications. Dogs get seasick as humans do. Because of that reason, along with your dog’s first aid kit, you need to keep those sickness medications on the boat. In case you forgot to buy one, you might try giving it some of your own. To be more precise, human seasickness meds like Dramamine and Benadryl should do the job just fine.

Make sure your dog drinks plenty of water

Dogs don’t sweat. Instead, they rely on drinking water to keep themselves cool. The best way to prevent your dog from overheating is to make sure it drinks plenty of cool water. At the same time make sure that it doesn’t try to drink from the sea. That is if you are sailing at sea. If the dog is thirsty might be tempted to go overboard for a swim and a drink. A hydrated dog is not likely to do so.

Bring a rug or a carpet

Know that dogs absorb heat through their pads. And as we all know, boat surfaces can get very hot when exposed in the sun. A carpet or a rug can help not only protect your dog’s feet but prevent it from slipping into the water. An alternative to that is to buy dog’s shoes. That way its feet will be protected no matter where it goes on the deck.

Sunscreen for your dog

Dogs, much like humans are affected by harmful sun rays. Short haired breeds are especially vulnerable. Veterinarians recommend using an unscented spray so that the dog doesn’t get agitated. SPF 15 is considered to be very effective and dog-friendly sunscreen.  

The dog will need to relieve itself somewhere

Ideally, the dog will be trained to relieve itself on puppy pads or to any designated place. In case it’s not, make sure you bring plenty of paper towels and waste bags.  


Make sure that you follow the recommendations found here, and your dog will love the boat trips as much as you do. Once your dog settles in, you will have nothing to worry about. Just make sure that the first few times go well and without any troubles.