Labor Day should involve anything BUT labor! It’s a holiday dedicated to spending time with family (including our pups) and relaxing the day away. If your Labor Day adventure includes boating, consider bringing your dog along for the ride.

While it might be fun to bring the iFetch on the boat, we would advise to keep it safely at home. Playing fetch on a moving or rocking boat is a recipe for an accident.

dog on a paddle board

PC: @myhydrobabe

Follow our boating safety tips to ensure a fun outing with your pup:

1. Develop a plan in case your dog goes overboard. Knowing what to do in an emergency will make problem-solving easier in the moment. Make sure everyone on the boat has a task if your pup goes overboard, and practice if you can.

2. Check local laws regarding dogs on boats. Regulations can vary by state, so make sure you check local laws before taking your dog out on the water. And if you decide that your boat is not the best place for your dog, there are most likely doggie day care options in your area.

Dog on a boat with a lifejacket

PC: @buoythecavachon

3. A proper fitting life jacket. A proper fitting life jacket is essential, even if your dog is a good swimmer. Dogs get tired just like us humans, and they may need help staying afloat throughout the day. Make sure the life jacket not only fits correctly, but also make sure that is is bright for maximum visibility.

4. A first-aid kit. A well-stocked first-aid kit is necessary for any boat, but if you plan to take your dog along, there are a few items to add. Consider bringing a pet first-aid book, a nylon leash, self-clinging bandages, and a muzzle to prevent biting. If she gets hurt, she may try to bite out of confusion or pain. The muzzle will let you tend to wounds safely.

5. Your dog needs to stay hydrated. Be sure and take plenty of water for everyone on the boat, especially your dog. Their fur keeps their body warm, and they will need a lot of water to stay cool.

6. Protection from the heat. The sun is hot! Make sure there is a shady spot on the boat where your dog can hang out when she gets hot. She may also need sunscreen on her nose and other parts that are exposed.

7. Common sense. Use common sense when boating with your dog. Is the boat in full sun making the floor hot? A great general rule to keep in mind is if it’s too hot to rest the back of your hand on it for 5 full seconds, it’s too hot for the dog’s paws. Block off areas that are not safe for your dog to roam or sit and make sure you give them ample time to rest during the day.

There will be many boats on the water this Labor Day, which means a higher likelihood of an accident. Before taking your dog out with your whole family and friends, you may want to do a test run with your dog. If possible, take him to the boat (even if it’s on the trailer or dry docked) and get him familiar with the boat. This will help you see if taking him out on the water is a good idea, or if he needs more warming up before going out with the family.

Have fun, and remember to practice safe boating habits this Labor Day!