Spring has finally arrived and if you are not lucky enough to live
in Florida, where we boat most of the year, most landlubbers all over the country are thinking of getting their boats ready for the coming boating season find boat landing.
With boating comes the thought, will my dog or cat be able to join the family in its fun?
The answer to that is, maybe “yes” and maybe “no.”
It depends on the pet and your patience in acquainting your pet with your boat.
Some pets do get seasick just like some people do. A pet that has adjusted to long car rides is more apt to be okay, than a pet that gets sick in the car from a ride around the block.
Pets that have never been boating need time to get exposed to the ins and outs of boating, a little at a time.
The best time to start is now, while the boat is either in your yard or in dry-dock.
But, before you start ask yourself the following questions:
Will your pet tolerate a harness and a leash?
Is your pet fairly calm or does it get overly excited, when something happens?
Does your pet get carsick?
Is your pet old and has lost some of its agility?
What would you do if you had to leave port immediately and could not find your pet?
Does you cat or dog respond to commands; such as come, stay, sit, up, down? Does your dog bark at the drop of a pin?
Will your dog bite or nip at stranger?
Have you trained your dog to “potty” in a certain spot?
Is your cat an indoor cat and never been exposed to the outside?
Is your cat a fussy eater?
Is your cat scared of strange sounds and of people?
Is there be someone on board that will keep a watchful eye most of the time on your pet? If you can answer those questions and come up with the correct answer 99.9 percent of the time, you and your pet are ready for the open sea.
The next question is “how do you prepare your pet” for this wonderful adventure?
First of all, your pet has to get used to the boat and that can be done while it is in your yard or in dry-dock. Remember, if you are taking your pet away from home, it needs a harness and leash (yes, a harness, no collar.)
Why a harness? A cat or dog can slip out of a collar and be gone in a blink of an eye; a harness is more confining and safer.
Once they are used to the feel and smell of the boat, start the motor, so they get used to the sound and are not frightened
Next purchase a floatation device (life jacket) for your pet, there are many on the market and they do save pets lives. Let your pet become accustomed to wearing it; start with short periods of time at first.
It also will be worth the effort and time to allow your cat or dog to try swimming with it on. Believe it or not some dogs cannot swim. Pets do fall overboard many times.
The life jacket will keep your pet afloat even if it is exhausted or suffering from hypothermia. Most devices have handles on the top for easy lifting out of the water. Pets when wet are heavier than when dry.