Boat green with pets

You and your pets can enjoy and protect our waterways

Many boat owners are also pet owners. It is not surprising to encounter a dog or dogs even in the remotest anchorages. Some ferry their dogs ashore so that Fido can “do his business” but we’ve also encountered dogs that were trained to do their business on the boat. Just like us, pets affect our marine environment. It is easier to think about boating green with pets in three ways: on the boat, in the water and on the land.

Pets Aboard

  • Make sure your pet has an ID tag that includes your boat’s permanent marina location as well as a phone contact for when you’re afloat.
  • Consider having an ID microchip implanted in your pet.
  • Have your pet fitted for a Personal Flotation Device. No matter how good a swimmer, a sudden dunking can cause panic. Bright colours and a handle on top make the animal easy to retrieve.
  • Teach your dog some basic commands, such as “on boat”, “off boat”.
  • Obtain sea sickness medication for your pet if necessary.
  • Introduce your pet to the boat in incremental steps, ideally begin when the animal is young.
  • Dispose of dog and cat waste in your marine head, not overboard.

Pets in the Water

  • Since you don’t want your pet to fall overboard, you should take steps to prevent that from happening, and also practise for that eventuality.
  • Be alert even at the dock because that is where many accidents happen.
  • Practise swimming and rescue drills with your pet.
  • Have a large fishnet with a long handle at the ready to scoop up a pet in the water.

Pets Ashore

  • In remote places you visit by boat both you and your pet are non‐native species, keep that in mind when you take your dog ashore.
  • Always carry a plastic bag and pick up what your dog leaves behind.
  • Keep your dog away from other (wild) animals.
  • Your dog’s bark is a form of noise pollution for native species. It can signal danger and disrupt them from their normal activities like sitting on eggs.

Internet Search Terms: “boating with pets”, “water safety” training dogs

Excerpt from “Boat Green” 50 Steps Boaters can take to save our waters by Clyde W. Ford.


Nick Baets, N
Ottawa Power and Sail Squadron

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