Dog is My Copilot

Spring recreation in and around Bozeman almost always includes some form of water sport. For those of us with a canine counterpart, this can be intimidating, especially when watercraft is involved. Making sure your dog is comfortable aboard your boat is vital to the success of your day. Local dog trainer Nancy Tanner, from Paws & People, offers her expert advice on how to make your favorite water sport your dog’s as well.

Tip #1: Your Dog Is Not the Boat Captain
Always remember that the activity involving the boat is your hobby, not your dog's hobby. If you find yourself in a drift boat fly-fishing, it's safe to assume that the dog isn’t the one landing the fish. So, making the boat as familiar and enjoyable as possible for your dog starts long before you hit the water. Make a habit of getting your canine in and out of the boat on land. Even try feeding your dogs meals in the boat while it sits in the driveway. Bringing food on board is always a good idea. Keeping the dog comfortable and providing a snack is a great way to maintain a calm environment on whatever watercraft you choose.

Tip #2: A Wired Dog Could Become a Wet Dog
Always burn off as much of the dog’s energy as possible before setting sail. This will ensure that he or she is a calmer, more relaxed passenger. If the dog goes from the cage, to the truck, to the boat, you are going to have a really frisky canine onboard. This situation can lead to several avoidable hazards on the water, including going overboard.

Tip #3: Dogs Don't Float
Make sure your dog is properly fitted in a legitimate life vest. The basic rule is this: If the water conditions (current, water temp, rapids, etc.) warrant your wearing a vest, then your dog should wear one too. Although some breeds may seem as though they don’t need such a safety net, it’s a good idea for every dog. Springtime rapids can run fast and may overpower both humans and dogs. A simple canine life vest ensures a more buoyant passenger if things go south and can protect against cold temperatures and provide wind protection as well.