Dogs in Boats

Beignet out on Fort Point Channel, Boston, MA.

Boating with your dog in the Boston Waterfront Fort Point Channel

Right now is my favorite time of year to go out on the water in my ocean-going kayak, and my dog Beignet loves to come too. We have paddled around the shallow end of the Fort Point Channel together several summers now. There are just a few things I’ve learned about keeping her safe that I’d like to share so that your dog will love boating as much as Beignet does.

Before taking Beignet in a boat,  I exposed her to some early experiences in the water. When she was just about six months old, we spent time at inner harbor beaches in South Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts. I also brought her to lakes inland. In both cases, I would carry Beignet into the water, release her, and watch as she paddled around me a time or two before turning towards the shore. At first, the water was just deep enough that she had to swim. I kept each swimming lesson very short.  Only gradually did I go deeper each time, allowing her to gain confidence. Beignet is a Cavachon, and now, like most spaniels, she is a natural swimmer.

Beignet playing fetch at Rutland State Park

Dog Water Safety First

In preparing to go on a boat ride with Beignet, I think about the vessel we’re going in. Unless we are on a ferry, I will have Beignet wear her life jacket. Even though she is an excellent swimmer, water conditions may change rapidly, and she will need help staying afloat. A good life jacket that fits is a must. I purchased Beignet’s life jacket back in 2014 from Outward Hound. I’ve just seen a review published on the American Kennel Club site dated May 2020, that lists Outward Hound life jackets at the top.

When I go out on an open boat, like mine, I pack treats and water for Beignet just like I always do on walks in Fort Point, the Seaport District, Boston for Ms. B’s Pet Care. The sun can be relentless, and little canine bodies can dehydrate quickly. On the water in an open boat, everyone needs extra water even if we are just in Boston Harbor. Dogs will dehydrate more rapidly than we would and that leaves them susceptible to heatstroke.

How can I tell she needs a drink?

First off, her tongue will be very red, not the usual pinky hue. And second, her tongue will be hanging way out of her mouth, looking like a real red flag. Sometimes I carry a collapsible bowl, but more often, Beignet will drink right out of her bottle. I will offer her water repeatedly just to make sure she is ok. There are even cool water bottle/drinking cup combos you can find in pet stores or online and there are so many to choose from. The review I recently read thoroughly can be found at the site K9of mine. It starts by asking three questions: #1 What is the product made of? #2 What is the drinking cup like? and #3 What is the capacity? I think it’s a great place to start to find this important accessory.

My first family dog, Angel, the Cocker Spaniel in our boat!  

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