It’s no secret that Kiwis, and in particular North Shore residents, love the sea. So, as they are big dog lovers too, the question is how to combine the two?
Dog’s are not natural boaties and some may never share your passion for floating on the water, but here are a few tips on enjoying your boat and your dog this summer:
Start young if you can. As with most training and socialisation of dogs, starting when they are young makes life a lot easier. Plan your introduction using your usual training techniques and starting with brief trips to build confidence. If you want to train your dog to ride on a board or canoe, it’s easier if you start on land first.
Water, water everywhere. Very important to remember to have plenty of fresh, cool water with you. Dogs suffer from heat stress very quickly and the added stress of an unfamiliar environment won’t ease this. If your dog is a big swimmer, then taking on salt water can intensify dehydration so be careful.
Have a harness handy. Until you can trust your dog not to leap overboard and in certain situations like docking, tethering your dog with a harness and line is the smart way to go.
Have a dog overboard plan and make sure everyone on board understands what it is.
Put a floating jacket on your dog. These are readily available now and should be used. This could be the difference between life and death in unforeseen circumstances, regardless of how well your dog can swim.
If your boat doesn’t provide very good grip (fibre glass), bring sections of indoor/outdoor carpet to give your dog a secure footing in the necessary areas.
If you want to train your dog for longer stays away, you’ll need to research how to train your dog to use a toilet mat. You can start with this at home, outside when he might normally go… and then take it on the boat with you and start the toilet training process. This might take some time, so be prepared to be patient.
Fishing, bait and hooks don’t really mix well with having dogs on board. But if you want to fish you need to make sure you don’t leave bait lying around and that your dog is well out of the way of any hooks.
Save your dog trips to fine, calm days. Nothing will put your dog off boating more than having to deal with motion sickness on a rough sea.
Pack treats for your trip away so you can continue training and rewarding the right behaviour.
There are many boat dogs around the world of all breeds so there is no reason yours can’t be one too. Just follow the usual common sense approach of research, planning and patience.
Dog HQ, 5 Goldfield, Wairau Valley 09 442 2365 www.doghq.co.nz