By Kelly Marshall
Water sports are very popular with families. Whether it is on a water skiing expedition or a leisurely trip in your boat, you need to pay attention to the family dog.
It is extremely important to keep your dog safe while in the water, and don’t wait until the trip to start familiarizing your dog with being in a boat, raft or canoe.
Whatever your mode of travel is, your dog should have a flotation device. These dog specific life jackets could save your dog’s life.
Some dogs cannot swim. If your dog takes a dive into the water in search of a fish or as an escape, the life jacket could save their life. Hypothermia is another possibility that you need to consider. They serve three purposes; they prevent your dog from drowning, becoming exhausted or hypothermic due to the temperature of the water.
You can find life jackets at most boat shops, major pet stores and online. Be sure you are getting a size that fits snugly and properly to ensure their safety. Your dog may not like the jacket at first, so it is best to acclimate him to the process before you venture out onto the boat.
Put the jacket on for a few minutes and repeat for several days. Leave it on a little longer each day and make it a rewarding experience. If you give your dog a verbal, tactile or food reward for behaving until you take it off, he will look forward to the experience in a short time.
It would be wise not to assume that your dog will love being on a boat. Dogs walk on floors and ground, not on a surface that is constantly in motion. Here again it is important to acquaint your dog to the boat. While your boat is on the trailer or at dockside, let them get a turn to get on board with their life jacket on. Once your dog seems adjusted to the boat, you should start the engine. New noises can startle a dog and set them on a running spree.
Your first trip should be a short one. It will give your dog the opportunity to get used to the travel. There is a possibility that the dog will get seasick, just as humans do.
Dogs are sensitive to heat and sun. It is important to provide them with some shade to get some relief from direct sun exposure. The deck of your boat will get very hot in direct sun. Dogs absorb heat through their feet, so provide them with a padded area to give them some relief.
Have a good supply of drinking water on hand. Dogs can become dehydrated in heat. A sport bottle filled with water is probably the best method to get water in your dog’s mouth. You should make every attempt to force water into your dog to prevent dehydration.
Allow your dog a dip in the water to cool. Be sure the life jacket is on before the dog hits the surf or lake. It will be a great relief from the sun and heat and probably a good photo moment.
Dogs need to eliminate their bladder, so if your boat surface isn’t appropriate, make plans to hit the shore from time to time.
Kelly Marshall is a featured author on Oh My Dog Supplies. For more articles by Kelly visit Oh My Dog Supplies.