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10 Dog Safety Tips When Playing in the Water or Boating With Your Dog

If you own a Labrador Retriever, Irish Water Spaniel, Newfoundland, or a Portuguese Water Dog, doing some type of water activities is one of the best ways for you and your dog to spend time together. Whether he is playing along the rolling waves of the ocean or fetching a stick in a shallow creek, spending time in the water with your canine buddy is a great way to enjoy the great outdoors.

When you and your dog are both paddling in the water, it is very important to make safety your number 1 rule. While many dogs can easily plunge into the water like a duck, some canines are a little apprehensive at first and need time to get used to the experience.

5 Tips to Ensure Fun and Safety For Your Dog in the Water

  • Before your dog hits the water, make sure that he is healthy and in good condition. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any doubt abouts his health or fitness level.
  • When taking your dog to the water for the first time, do it slowly and go by his pace. This is especially true if he is still a puppy. Never assume that, just because he’s a Labrador Retriever, that he will naturally know how to swim and will automatically tread the water safely.
  • Pick a warm, shallow body of water, one that will be easy for your first-timer to maneuver through. Take him to the edge of the water and let him explore at his own comfort levels. Do not splash him or drag him to the water before you are absolutely sure that he’s ready. Give him a few minutes to get used to this new experience. Forcing your dog to go into the water before he is ready will just scare him off and lessen the chance of him trying again.
  • As he gets more curious, try taking him to the water by going in first and call him at the same time. Lure him with a treat or throw a toy into the water (making sure it is at a short distance and within his depth). Eventually, he will feel more confident about going further out, especially when he knows that you are having fun.
  • Before taking your dog to a large body of water, such as the ocean or a deep river, it would be wise to gear him up with a canine life jacket. This is particularly important if he is still new to swimming and/or if he gets too excited while playing in the water. Make sure that the life jacket fits him properly and let him get used to having it on while swimming before going deeper into the water.

5 Safety Tips When Boating With Your Dog

Once your dogs gets more and more confident about going in the water by himself, you may try sharing other marine activities that both of you can enjoy. But before heading to the water, whether to go swimming, boating, or playing fetch, it is important to know some basic knowledge and safety measures.

Here are some tips to help you and your dog get the most out of your water experience, while keeping safety paramount:

  • Not all beaches allow dogs. Check the ordinance to make sure that your dog can come along. If you have access to the Internet, you may go online at to find a list of beaches that allow pets in the United States and Canada.
  • If boating is one of your favorite pastimes and you want to bring your dog with you, take your time when introducing him to this activity. You have to remember that he is used to hard surfaces that are stable and do not move.
    Regardless of the size of your boat, whether it is a small canoe, or a large yacht, allow him to get acquainted to your boat while he is on the leash. Also, your dog’s first couple of boat trips should be very short, no longer than an hour or so. This will allow you to get a good sense of his comfortability levels with spending time on a moving surface.
  • When heading out on your boat on a bright, sunny day, ensure that your dog has a shaded area to spend time in when things get too warm. The surface of your boat can become uncomfortably hot underneath the boiling sun, especially during the dead of summer. And your dog’s ears and nose may become sunburned without shade.
  • There is nothing more fun than being out in the middle of the ocean or lake and jumping off the side of your boat for a good swim. If your dog joins you, be sure to pay attention to strong tides, jellyfish, and sea lice.
    Sea lice can cause extreme itching and irritation to your dog’s skin. Jellyfish can obviously stink your pet. And when coming back onto the boat, be sure to rinse both you and your dog off with clean water.
  • Last but not least, always bring your own drinking water. Though it may seem more convenient to have your dog drink from the river or lake, it is not a good idea to do so. Slow moving water such as lakes and ponds are sometimes contaminated with bacteria and parasites.

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  1. Dogs Loving Water - Fun Video | Los Angeles Dogs - September 3, 2013

    […] While we strongly encourage you to go out and have fun with your dogs in or on the water, be sure to review our 10 Dog Safety Tips When Playing in the Water or Boating With Your Dog. […]

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