10 Top Tips for Boating with Your Favorite Fur Baby!

Friday, March 24, 2023
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Thanks to our awesome RNO customers for sharing their favorite pup pix!

by Wanda Kenton Smith

Every weekend, Central Florida waterways are teeming with boaters of all ages and interests. No matter if it’s a pontoon or a surf boat, one of our favorite boating sights are all those fabulous fur babies soaking up the sun and enjoying time on the water with their families! 

If you haven’t taken your favorite pupster out boating before … or if you need a refresher on ways to keep your buddy safe and secure, here are RNO’s Top 10 Tips!

#1: Pre-Boat Prep.

Before launching your outing with Fido, carefully check his nails and make sure they are trimmed to avoid costly upholstery damage.

Another smart idea is to carry aboard a special towel, dog bed or lightweight blanket. Some fun comfort floaties and toys can also help ease anxiety.

Have a special carry-on bag for Fido where everything is packed and easy to access.

#2: Buckle Up, Buttercup!

Before your outing, consider investing in a custom life jacket for your baby. Many boat owners invest in personal flotation devices (PFDs) for their beloved pets, for good reason. While some breeds may swim like a champ, others may struggle to stay afloat.

A PFD designed and fitted especially for your pet will provide flotation safety, while protecting against fatigue which can occur after a long day or in rougher water conditions.

If possible, take your pet to the pet store and ask an employee for help in fitting him correctly. Some PFDs offer human-friendly features like handles to make it easier to support and/or help lift your pop out of the water.

Image Courtesy Al Alvarez

#3: Drink Up!

Just like you, your pup needs plenty of fresh, clean drinking water when he goes boating.

Before heading out, pack a small bowl and bring along several designated bottles of water just for him. Caution: never let your pup lap up the water your boat is floating on – no telling what he may accidentally ingest.

Observe him regularly to make sure he’s not becoming dehydrated … telltale signs include heavier than usual panting, dry mouth and general malaise.

Another smart idea is to bring favorite dog treats in a waterproof, ziplock-style bag so he has snacks of his own when it’s time for the family picnic.

#4: Hot Spots!

Did you know that dogs can experience sunburn like humans?

Stop by your favorite pet store and ask about exclusive sunscreens for pups, especially if your dog is a shorter-haired breed. Lather up according to instructions.

#5: It’s “Potty” Time!

Before departure, walk your dog to ensure he does his business before coming aboard.

Always plan for the unexpected, however, and be sure to bring a roll of plastic poop bags and some gentle upholstery cleaner and scrubber, just in case of an unforeseen accident. Keep a designated ‘depository bag’ set aside … and don’t forget to visit the dumpster to leave it behind when your outing is over. 

#6: Short Starts.

For your first time out on the boat with your dog, plan a short ride to see how adaptable he or she is on the water. A full day of boating may prove too stressful.

While some breeds are intrinsically born for water activities and may be ready to jump overboard, others may cower and be terribly frightened or intimidated by the whole experience.

Start slowly to see how well your pup will respond prior to planning a lengthy excursion.

#7: Use the Leash.

The first few times you take your fur baby out boating, use a leash and keep it securely connected.

If you have a lapdog, secure him in your lap before leaving the dock and getting underway. The sound of the engine and the resulting movement is all new and can cause anxiety. Make sure your dog is leashed and securely seated in your lap or next to you as you both “test the waters.”

In addition, the leash should always be secured anytime you disembark from your boat. Never let your pup take off at the dock or when you land at your favorite watering hole or island. Just as you wouldn’t let your toddler or your child run wild, use the same smart precautions when it comes to protecting your pup.

#8: Swim with Caution.

Introduce your pup to the water slowly and cautiously. Never throw him in the water without proper preparation, especially if his only previous water experience is limited to a bath at home or at the groomers.

Some boaters who have access to a pool have found introducing them to the water initially his way makes the segue to boating easier.

When you’re ready to take a dip away from the boat, consider a safe method of transfer. If possible, have two people help to acculturate your pet. One should get in the water first, and the other one can help pass the pup. Swimming back and forth between the two caregivers is a great way to get started and help your pup gain confidence. That first experience is best when both people are standing in the water versus treading.

 #9: Watch Out for Wildlife!

SPECIAL CAUTION: Here in Central Florida, we must be extra careful and vigilant when introducing our pups to swimming and exploring the waterways.

Be aware and extremely mindful of wildlife who may be sharing the waterways and swimming in the area. Always avoid taking your prized pet to waterways that are known to have wildlife predators. Never let your pup swim or play in the water or alongside shorelines alone.

#10: Rinse and Repeat!

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed a great time on the water with your favorite fur baby and he’s ready to return for more fun!

To finish the day and to avoid a mangy mess, rinse your pup thoroughly with cool fresh water to remove sand and other residue that can irritate the skin. Gently clean around the ears and paws. Towel him off and run a brush through his coat. 


Your friends at RNO would love to post pix of you and your fur baby on our social media pages! We also welcome your boating tips! Send jpegs and tips to: Wanda@OrlandoNautiques.com

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