Filed Under (Boating Safety) by Debbie on 02-05-2008

Do you ever take your family dog out on the boat with you?  Then this story submitted by Valerie is one you should read!

Most dogs are excellent swimmers. Yet, while most boaters employ safety precautions for the human passengers on board, most do not recognize the potential danger that Pacific Northwest recreational boating can present for their canine passengers.

Fido may be a strong swimmer under most circumstances, but in the Pacific Northwest, water temperatures and currents are deadly to man and beast most of the year round. If your dog should happen to slip and fall overboard, with out a PFD he will succumb to hypothermic conditions in minutes—exhaustion will result quickly in the cold water and strong currents. Remember, he cannot call for help if he goes into the water unnoticed, and many dogs are lost this way.

Docks and boats alike create many hazards for dogs. Wet surfaces are hazardous to our canine friends, claws are of no use to them on gel coat and they have poor traction. We have fished many surprised dogs out of the water on the Columbia River for example, who simply misjudged or slipped during the leap from the dock to the boat.

 Dog Vests

 One dog in particular was near drowning because he slipped off the swim platform of his boat unnoticed; he was gallantly swimming against the strong current behind the boat, slowly losing the battle and sinking. We fished him out just in time. Without human help, that dog had no way of saving himself and climbing out…. even the strongest Labrador retriever will be lost to the current. Just as we take extra precautions for youngsters around water, we need to consider the dangers for the family pet. Consider purchasing a PFD for your dog. If your dog does happen to fall into the water, not only will they stay afloat beyond hypothermia or exhaustion, but the rescue is much easier. There is a convenient handle on the back, enabling the human to lift the dog onto boat or dock more easily without choking them, or being clawed inadvertently.

Similar hazards exist for dogs that are tethered on or around boats. Recently my friend and I were chatting on a dock when we noticed a dog’s head, hanging from a leash, just visible between a small powerboat and the dock. A large wake went through and the small powerboat was bobbing up and down. It was horrifying to see…the dog was struggling like mad with feet going in all directions; trying to gain foothold against the boat or the dock…he had become a “doggy fender.” He was moments away from death by hanging, crushing, or drowning, or a combination of all three. The owners had left him tethered directly to their boat. Not a pretty sight to come back to had my friend and I not happened by at the right moment. At no time should dogs be left unattended on a tether or leash around docks and boats. A tether too long will get hung up around a multitude of things on boats; too short, and the dog can be hanged. Never tie a dog to a boat, or near a boat and leave it unattended. It takes moments for disaster to strike.

Dogs should not be left unsupervised, nor allowed to run freely on docks. Leash laws protect your dog, and also provide consideration for other boaters. Dogs can create a particular nuisance in boating situations; dogs don’t know their boundaries on a dock. Territory is undefined; skirmishes are more common. Proximity is sometimes close; boater’s belongings, food and drink are often at lower level, all vulnerable to a loose dog. Many dogs lift their legs on docks, deck chairs, and other humans when fire hydrants or shrubs are not readily available.

Our dogs love the experience of being on, in and near the water with our family. But we learned long ago that dogs need to have special accommodation in Pacific Northwest waters, and we need to do diligence as owners and take special precautions for their safety and the consideration of other boaters.

Interested in more information about boating with your dog?

3 Comments posted on "Boating with your family DOG"
Boating with your family DOG | Animal Breeding Resource Page on May 2nd, 2008 at 5:11 pm #

The writer wrote an interesting post today.

exemple blog on May 2nd, 2008 at 5:26 pm #

Yes, an interesting post today.

Debbie on May 2nd, 2008 at 10:17 pm #

Thanks to both of you. I’ll sure let Valerie know. Thanks for visiting, I appreciate it.