Boating with Kids and Dogs
Boating is a great family activity! Working and playing together on the water, in the big, beautiful outdoors – for families it doesn’t get much better than that. Taking children and dogs on these outings is also fun and it works best if you plan ahead. We did a survey of our boaters here at NRS and from our many years of collective experience, here are a few hints for making boating with kids and dogs easier on you and them:
You love your kids, you love your dogs. Don’t expect others on the trip to love them as much as you do. Especially with the dogs, check with other trip members to see if they’re okay with you bringing them. As adults you need to take responsibility for the little ones you bring, human and canine. Help them adopt behavior that makes them a popular addition to the group.
Make sure they wear their PFDs on or near the water; and always remember that you can’t watch them every second. Sometimes PFDs don’t fit kids’ skinny little bodies snugly; leg straps (that join the front and back of the jacket between the legs) will keep them from riding up and perhaps being swept off the body.
On-the-water upsets can always occur; tailor the level of difficulty of the water you tackle to their ability to handle any emergency. Their smaller bodies get cold easily, which makes it important to have splash wear and extra layers handy for them. They need lots of fuel, so make sure to keep plenty of nutritious snacks and liquids handy. Bring kid-friendly sunscreen and apply it often, making sure not to forget the tops of the ears.
You’re enjoying the scenery and the thrill of being on the water – but your child may be bored. While boating, games like “I Spy” or “How many eagles can you count?” – you know, the same kind you do in the car – will help them pass the time.
Bring toys for camp and don’t forget water squirt toys for “repelling boarders”! Giving them their own headlamp lets them find the tent at night and read a bit before they sleep. For camp leisure time, an assortment of books is a winner.
Another game that doubles as a serious learning experience is practicing with your rescue throw bag. In a calm stretch of water have them (wearing their PFDs, of course) practice being rescued and also being the ones tossing the bag. They’ll find it fun and you’ll have taught them an excellent survival skill.
You wear a life jacket, be sure your dog has one too. We’ve seen some tragic incidents where dogs have drowned when a jacket would have probably saved them. Tossing a stick in the water for them to retrieve is a fun activity for lots of dogs, but be careful not to overdo it. Some dogs will keep it up until they get exhausted, leaving them vulnerable to being swept downstream.Be sure to clean up after your dog. One sanitary method we’ve seen is to use a recycled plastic bag, like a grocery produce bag. Put it on your hand, pick up the feces, then fold the bag around it and dispose in the trash bag.
One of our associates relates that both his dogs experienced soreness at the base of their tails after a long period of swimming, making it painful to sit or have the area touched. Being naturally concerned, he was ready to take them to the vet, when a friend explained that the dog actually had a case of “swimmer’s tail”, which is an inflammation caused by wagging their tails against the resistance of the water. Sure enough, a day later the soreness was gone. Anyone else out there heard of this? Drop us a line with your experience.
A humorous story that came up in our in-house survey was the tale of the “lead boat dog”, a Golden Retriever. If he’s not in the lead boat, he’ll quiver and whine until he can’t take it anymore. Then he’ll jump out and swim to the first boat!
Your Comments Will Be Appreciated
If you have suggestions for making trips smoother with either kids or dogs, we’d love to hear and share them with others in a future Newsletter issue.