How To Boat Train Your Dog

Boating with dogs is extremely popular. Whether you take your dog out duck hunting or just like to cruise the lakes and rivers, about 62 percent of Americans say they take their dogs boating with them.  With that many dogs on board, it’s important for dogs to know how to behave on a boat. Here’s how to boat train your dog.

Before you do any training with your dog remember that any time your dog is near the water he should be wearing a pet life jacket.  Dogs can drown just as people can.  A life jacket will keep your dog afloat in the water if she should fall overboard or if he should swim out too far.

You may also want your dog to wear a harness instead of a collar when he’s on the boat.  If your dog should fall in the water it can be much easier to try to haul him back into the boat if you have a harness to grab instead of just a collar.

Once your dog has the right gear you can start boat training your dog.  Some of your training will depend on the kind of boat you have but all dogs will need to know how to get on and off the boat safely.  This may entail the use of a ladder in some cases so show your dog how to use the ladder and help him up and down until he gets the idea.  With other boats your dog may be able to simply jump in and out of the boat.  Teach your dog to wait until the boat isn’t moving to avoid accidents.

It’s always a good idea to train your dog and practice with the boat tied up on shore or at a dock.  The water will be as shallow as possible and you’ll be able to help your dog easily if there are any problems.  You can gradually take the boat out into deeper waters as your dog gets more used to the boat and the water.

Do use the sit-stay command with your dog on the boat.  If your dog is running around the boat a lot he’s more likely to lose his balance and fall into the water.  The sit-stay command will keep him in one place and prevent accidents.

Many people worry about dogs pot-tying on the boat.  This problem can be easily solved in two ways.  You can provide your dog with papers or a potty patch on the boat, if it’s large enough, and train your dog to use them the same way you would train him to use them in your house.  However, some dogs don’t like to potty on a boat and they will “hold it in” as long as possible.

You can solve this problem by teaching your dog to eliminate on command.  This isn’t really as difficult to train as you might think.  You’ll need to begin by taking your dog to the chosen spot to eliminate when you are sure he needs to go.  When he relieves himself you should give him the command such as “Go Potty!”  Then reward his success.  Do this each time he needs to relieve himself.  Even if he takes a few minutes to accomplish his task you should wait it out and stay until he has relieved himself.  Then reward.  Make sure you use the command words. If you do this each time your dog will quickly learn to relieve himself on command.

Boat training your dog will make it much safer to take him with you when you are out in the water. If you follow these precautions then you and your boating budding will have a great time.

Mark Mansfield

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