Dog staring out at the water in Muskoka near Toronto Ontario

Taking Your Dog Boating

May 05, 2020

For many boat owners, going boating is all about enjoying the company of family and friends. Since many people consider their dog a part of the family, it’s natural that they’d want to bring their dog along. It’s worth noting that dogs often love the water, which makes it an even more natural fit.

If you’re planning on taking your dog on your next boat trip, it’s worth considering a few things about their behavior and needs so you can have a fun and low-stress trip. This short guide will teach you about things like water safety, emergency preparedness, and anticipating your dog’s needs. Read on to learn more and stop by Gordon Bay Marine for all your boating needs. We’re located in Muskoka, Ontario, and we proudly serve the Toronto, Ontario region.

Water Safety

If you’re going to bring your dog on the boat, it’s important that the dog can be safe if it ends up in the water. Whether it happens intentionally or unintentionally, there’s a better-than-even chance your dog will end up in the water. This can be a problem for older dogs and dogs with medical conditions. It’s also important to consider things like water temperature and weather if your dog is going to get in the water. Leaner dogs can have a risk of hypothermia if they get in cold water. Smaller dogs might not be able to stay afloat in water with large waves. Take these things into account before bringing your pup aboard.

Emergency Preparedness

Preparing for emergencies is crucial when boating with a dog. Create a plan for what to do if your dog gets in the water and can’t get into the boat on their own. Make sure someone is strong enough to lift the dog out of the water and into the boat. If your dog gets confused or doesn’t want to get back in the boat, try to attract it to the swim platform using a dog treat or by calling its name. The swim platform offers the best chance for a dog to get back out of the water.


A few supplies can help to keep your dog calm and happy while you boat. Treats are a great tool for reinforcing good behavior. If your dog has anxiety problems, bring along a chew toy to give it something to distract itself with. Make sure you also bring along plenty of drinking water for your dog. It’s probably best to avoid feeding your dog directly before getting on the boat because dogs can also get seasick and you don’t want to have to clean up a mess if they do. It’s helpful to bring along a leash, too, to make sure they stay safe and under control while you’re walking to and from the boat. It’s also helpful if you need to tie them up during the trip for any reason.

Reconsider Fishing

You might want to reconsider bringing your dog on the boat if you’re going fishing. Dogs make a lot of noise and tend to get excited around activities. You don’t want an excited dog to scare away the biggest fish! But what’s even more important is keeping your dog away from hazards that can cause it harm. A stray fish hook in the paw will be extremely painful. Dogs can also get into the bait supply and eat themselves sick. If you’re trying to gut a fish, you don’t want your dog jumping up to nip at the guts as you cut it open.

Anticipating Your Dog’s Needs

The best approach to preparing for a boating trip with your dog is to consider your dog’s needs. Dogs have similar needs to children in some ways. If you want them to behave correctly, you need to set them up for success. That means you’ll need to make sure they have food and water when they need it and give them a place to relieve themselves when they need it. It’s helpful to also bring a pillow or dog bed so they have somewhere to curl up and rest. If they love to swim, be prepared to deal with them being in the water and coming out wet.

Hopefully, this short guide offered some helpful advice for your next boating trip with your dog. If you need parts and maintenance for your boat, stop by Gordon Bay Marine. We’re located in Muskoka, Ontario and we proudly serve the Toronto area.