Top Tips for Sailing with Pets

For boaters, there’s nothing better than being on the open water with the wind in your hair and the warmth of the sun on your face. And, whether you’re enjoying marina time on the dock, a delightful day sail, or long-term liveaboard cruising, many have wondered how to best share their passion for the sea with their four-legged best friends. Let’s face it – time on the water without your furry first mate is just not the same.

Luckily, most dogs thoroughly enjoy the water, and seem to feel the same exhilaration as you do when slicing through waves and getting a face-full of sea spray. Others pups go along for the ride if only for the opportunity to be out and about with their favorite faithful human. 

Read on to learn our top tips for sailing with pets to keep them safe and comfortable – and as eager to jump on board as you are.

 Fresh Water for Fido

This tip may seem obvious, but it’s important to understand that dogs don’t cool themselves by perspiring, as people do. They’ll need plenty of fresh water to stay cool and hydrated. Bring along bottled water, and keep a dish readily available. Don’t allow your dog to drink lake or sea water – it can be contaminated with pollutants or harmful organisms. And drinking salt water can be dangerous for your pet. 

Doggie Life Vests

Even for the best boat dogs that swim very well, the open water poses risks, particularly if they fall overboard unnoticed. You’ll want to provide them with a sturdy, light-weight, and well-fitting life jacket that is also brightly colored to make it easier to see them in the water.  

 A Non-Skid Safe Haven

Sometimes your boating buddy needs a little break from slipping and sliding his way around the deck. Bring along a small piece of non-skid indoor/outdoor carpet to give your pet a comfy respite – preferably placed in the shade. 


Canine Sun Considerations

Even if your pet is a long-haired breed, the sun’s rays can be damaging and cause painful burns – especially animals with light skin and white fur. If possible choose a sunscreen that’s made for dogs, and use it on their sensitive nose and ears, reapplying after they swim. Keep in mind that some sunscreens are toxic for animals, most notably those that contain zinc oxide or PABA.

Doggie Potty Breaks

Of course, your mate will need to relieve himself somewhere so plan ahead to keep everyone comfortable. For shorter trips, make sure they have the opportunity to go before boarding. Bring along paper towels and waste bags for potential island bathroom breaks. For longer term cruising, puppy pads, a small piece of carpet, or a plastic cat litter box can be used. Then it’s just a matter of training!

Choosing Your Mate – Best Boat Dog Breeds

For those who haven’t yet found their furry first mate, it helps to understand that some breeds are more inclined to be “sea dogs” by nature. Consider those that are fond of the water, good at swimming and unafraid of adventure. Medium-sized dogs with a gentle temperament can be a good choice. 

A breed that might be tailor-made for your next sailing adventure might be the Labrador Retriever – always a popular, sweet-tempered and fun-loving breed, and known to love the water. 

Standard Poodles and Portuguese Water Dogs were originally used as working animals for hunters and fisherman, bred to be good swimmers – both have webbed feet and shed very little!

A smaller, family-friendly, and affectionate choice among the best boat dog breeds is the loyal Cocker Spaniel. This compact canine with its beautiful curly coat is a water lover and is also known to be easy to train. 

Once you have your boat buddy fully on board, perhaps it’s time to consider upgrading your cruising platform. Dream Yacht Sales represents the most respected boat brands from around the world, from sleek sailing monohulls and catamarans to powerful power cats for the ultimate in cruising luxury. 

Read more about boating and our world-class selection of yachts on our blog

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