I don’t know about you, but I love animals. My love for them is so strong that I would never have one. I don’t think I am responsible enough to take care of them so my wife doesn’t allow it either. I would gladly give that responsibility to my daughter but she is still too young. So we will have to wait until she is ready for the responsibilities. Especially responsibilities that include pet’s safety on board of a pontoon boat.
However, I do have family and friends who have pets and who sometimes join us on the boat. They like bringing their pets as well, mostly dogs. Cats, as you know, are not into water sports and hampsters or birds just don’t belong there.
They sometimes ask me if they can bring their dog along. I always tell them, you know your dog the best, make sure you know how to keep them safe on the boat. Promise me that you will keep your dog safe on my pontoon. If you do that, there is no issue, they can come too.
So, if you are considering bringing your pet on your pontoon boat, it is important to think about the pet’s needs. It can seem like a great idea, but you never know how the dog will react.
If you think your pet will be happy, then it is a win-win for both! With this said, I have mentioned before how safety on a pontoon boat is very important. This also goes for pets on a pontoon boat.
I want to share with you some ideas on how to keep a pet safe on a pontoon boat. These reflect my ideas, and like always, I want to hear from you what you think. Let’s begin!
Pet Meet Pontoon
The first step before you untie your pontoon from the dock is to introduce your dog to your boat. It is very important for the pet to get acclimated to the texture of the pontoon’s floor.
Also, they have to get used to space.
With nowhere to go once you are in the middle of the water, a pet needs to feel like they have enough space to roam around the boat. Do this while the boat is docked. Allow them to smell the boat, move around, and find their footing.
Another important step is to start the engine of your pontoon.
I remember the first time I started my engine with my sisters dog on the boat, he nearly jumped off the boat. This is because the initial sound of the engine starting can startle some animals. Also the fact that he is scared of everything. What happened with German boxers being brave?
Let your pet know that it is alright and there is no need to be afraid!
Lastly, see how they feel once your boat sways a little. Like humans, dogs and cats can get motion sickness. A dog that is not comfortable or feels sturdy on your pontoon will shake and tremble and potentially, get sick. The best idea is to get them used to your pontoon when they are young.
If your pet is matured, this can be somewhat difficult. But, not impossible. In this case, tell them to get down on the floor and stay there while the boat is in motion. They will take the ride better if they are closer to the floor.
Life Jacket For Your Pet’s Safety
Like with humans, the potential of being knocked off during strong weather conditions is possible. If you are considering bringing your dog on your pontoon boat, it is important to buy a life jacket.
Bad weather or heavy swaying can knock them off their feet easily. Even if your dog is a strong swimmer, it may get tired. Overall, a life jacket is necessary for safety!
Life Jacket Tips
- Choose a life jacket that has handles for lifting
- Choose a life jacket that is bright so you can notice them if they are far away
- Order the right size and make sure it fits before you go out on the boat
- Allow your dog to get used to the jacket before you bring them on the boat
My chosen brand for a doggy life jacket is Outward Hound. Their jackets are 5 stars and have thousands of reviews!
The Overboard Plan
You know your dog more than anyone. So, if you think your dog is not capable of listening to the basic commands or may get too excited and not calm down, it is not the best idea to bring them on a pontoon boat. They might get so excited they will jump off.
In the case that this happens, or an unexpected accident, such as a large wave that knocks them over, it is important to have a plan. So, what is my overboard plan?
- Shut off the engine FIRST!
- Go to whichever side they are on and call for them.
- Drop the ladder in time.
- Remain calm.
If you are bringing other people on board your pontoon, it is important to run this drill with them as well. My children and wife know the overboard plan in the case that our pet or friend’s pet wants to take a quick dive.
Try It Once
This is going to be the testing period. If this is your first time bringing your pet on board your pontoon, it is important to follow a couple important steps.
First, go at a much slower speed than usual since it is their first ride. They may get startled or not have proper footing as the boat begins to go a lot faster.
Second, do not do many of the activities you normally would. This includes no skiing or tubing because your pet may get overly excited. Also, your pet will not take their eyes off the family member that is being pulled behind. Maybe, they might even try to “save” the family member.
Third, have one person always next to your pet. If you are introducing them alone, maybe tie them to the rail next to you. This will minimize their wish to roam around while the boat is moving.
As positive reinforcement, give them a treat or pet them. If you notice they are behaving, then you can slowly increase the speed and movement of the boat.
Have All Their Needs Met
When you take your pet anywhere, you have to think of them. This is very important when you want to take your pet on your pontoon. There are a couple things every pet owner should include during a pontoon trip with their pet. You do not want to find yourself in the middle of the water and realize you left a couple of items behind.
It has happened to my family.
It is important to bring enough water for your friend. Being said, during the hot summer days we pack a lot of drinks to stay hydrated. I recommend pointing them to their water bowl occasionally. They might at times be too excited to think about drinking water or eating.
Another important item to bring is food in the case they get hungry or you are on the water for long periods of time. Most importantly, with puppies, consider bringing a puppy pad in case of accidents on the boat.
A full checklist to bring for your pet is listed below! 😊
Think Of Everyone As Well
Other than thinking about your pet, it is important to think about how other people may react to a dog on board and how your dog can react to them. If you have a lot of people on board, it may not be the best idea to cramp your pontoon boat even more with a dog.
Pets can be unpredictable and if one person feels inspired to go swimming or go down the water slide, your pet may think they can follow along and want to as well. Therefore, it is important to take space, people, and the length of time on the water into consideration before you bring your pet on board your pontoon.
Enjoying Your Pontoon With Your Pet
Overall, bringing your pet can be a fun and exciting experience. Just be properly prepared and have a lot of fun. The kids will love it too.
It is important to know how your pet will react. This is why introducing them to your pontoon boat is the first and most important step. From this, you can help your pet get used to the swaying, the motor, and the activities on board.
Now, to make this process easier, here is a checklist of everything you will need so the needs of your pet are met.
- Water Bowl – My favorite collapsible water bowl
- Food Bowl – Use the one above for food as well
- Bed or comfy pillow to lay on
- Life jacket
- Doggy boat ladder and ramp
- Puppy pads or accidents pads
- Floating stick toys or balls (If your dog gets in the water)
- Animal sunblock (for really hot and sunny days)
In general, always be alert of your surroundings and aware of how your dog will react. It can be fun for you and the people on board to bring your furry friends. However, if they seem uncomfortable it is important to think of the dog first.
I hope this has brought some insight into animal safety when on your pontoon boat. This reflects my experience and how I prepare when bringing a pet on board.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy your summer with your pet on board your pontoon. Leave a comment and let me know how your pet does.