This summer my hubby and I had the pleasure of farm sitting for his sister in eastern Ontario.  One day after I let the chickens out and fed all the animals, I decided to head into town and do a little bit of shopping and watch the pleasure boats come and go at the dock.  Many were very large and full of happy people.  It was a nice way to spend the afternoon wondering where they all came from or where they were heading.

While enjoying the sunny day and the warm weather, I sat with a coffee down by the river to watch the many sail boats coming and going.  I saw one particular boat trying to dock and onboard was a family with kids in life jackets just looking around and enjoying the day with their little dog that was wagging his tail at the railing.  He was standing with his front paws on the middle of the railing and looking around life jacketsCredit:

Suddenly the boat lurched as it hit the cushion tires on the side of the dock a little hard and the dog fell between the railings and into the water as quick as a flash.  The kids started screaming for their pet, and the dad was busy tying up the boat and trying to steady it.  Some other onlookers saw the little dogs head surface and swimming frantically and yipping.  He was swimming in circles looking confused and went under the water a few times with the wake from the other boats.  Finally one of the older kids jumped in the water to rescue him. 

The dog climbed onto him and was panicking and it took two other people to get the dog and the kid back to the side of the dock where they climbed up the ladder.  My heart was pounding when I saw that little dog fall.  It doesn’t take much and I really had to wonder why the kids were all wearing safety protection but the dog was not, nor was he secured anywhere. 

Just because a dog can swim doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t get into trouble in the water.  One of the other boaters who docked where I was sitting had their dog wearing a life jacket.  He told me his dog fell off the boat once, and he just had to grab the handle of the jacket and he got his dog back.  They can tire in the water just like we can and in colder temperatures they may not stay afloat long. 

This boater also told me the brighter the dog life vests the better.   He was able to come up beside the dog and grab the handle or handles that are built into the dog life jacket, making it easier to get them out of the water.

dog life jacketCredit:
Guardian Gear Aquatic Dog Preserver, Large, 20-Inch, Yellow
Amazon Price: $29.99 $27.20 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 26, 2015)

Dog Life Jacket - For Larger Dogs

Doesn’t matter the size of the pooch, they can all still run into trouble in the water, and you shouldn’t be diving in to try and rescue them especially a large dog because they could push you under as they panic.  Not all dogs swim well.  They at least stand a chance if they are wearing the proper safety equipment.  An older dog would for sure be in trouble as they can tire even quicker.

dog life jacketCredit:

Dog Life Vest - For Medium Sized

They should be worn as soon as they are on the boat, or if you like to spend time at the riverside to watch boats and you have an adventurous pooch, then it wouldn’t hurt to wear them all the time.  They are not heavy to wear and will keep your pet afloat while you try to get him ashore or on deck.

dog life jacketCredit:
Paws Aboard Small Designer Doggy Life Jacket, Pink Polka Dot
Amazon Price: $29.99 $13.50 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 26, 2015)

Bright Dog Life Jacket - For Smaller Poochies

If you have a very small pet, then you should get a bright coloured vest or jacket that will allow you to see them right away.  That tiny head swimming in the water may not be seen in a river or a lake.  It is not the same visibility as would be in a backyard pool.  The dog that I saw fall from the boat was barely noticeable and tired out very quickly, so there were very few splashes as it tried to stay afloat.  With the handle built in you could use a skimmer or rescue pole to at least hook onto the handle and pull him ashore without having to dive in yourself.

By having them brightly coloured, you could spot him or her quickly.  With the darker murky water of this churning river, you could bare make out the black and brown face as he was a darker colour.  If he had been wearing a pet life jacket, you would have seen the red, orange or yellow vest right away.

Older Dogs Tire Quickly

Don’t forget that older dogs do not have the stamina, to withstand the fall and the cold water, so if you like to take your pooch out on your family trips then he needs the same safety equipment that the rest of the family need.  There are also a few other accessories you can get that make life easier on the water with your pet.

dog floating leashCredit:
Paws Aboard 3000 Water Ski Rope Leash
Amazon Price: $30.40 $12.59 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 26, 2015)

Floating Dog Leash

Not only should they be wearing a life jacket, but you could also keep them secured with a leash that is neon in colour and will float.  Or if you are splashing around at the beach and you get a little too far you can keep him on this floating leash to stop him from going too far out.

dog gogglesCredit:

Water and Sun Goggles for Dogs

I thought these were really cool.  It might take a bit of time to get your pooch used to the idea of goggles, but if you pet spends a lot of time with you on the boat, then UV rays can affect their eyes just as much as your own.  So if you constantly wear your sunglasses on that reflective sunny day on your boat or down at the beach, then it wouldn’t hurt to protect your dog’s eyes too.