How to Train a Puppy to Ride in a Boat

You can train a dog for a boat of any size.
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If you enjoy boating, it is only natural to want to train your puppy to come onboard. Some breeds of dogs are natural-born water enthusiasts who will take to boating very quickly; others may take a little time and persuading before they can safely take part. The amount of training it takes to teach your puppy to ride properly and safely in your boat will depend on your puppy's natural personality and on his existing level of training.

Step 1

Introduce your puppy to your boat well before you are ready to hit the water with him. Bring your boat onto dry land and allow your puppy to completely investigate the boat's exterior and interior. Get him used to the sound of the boat's engines running. Use positive reinforcement -- verbal praise and treats -- to teach your puppy to load into your boat, to sit in a location where he will be safe, and to stay in that location until you verbally give him permission to move. Teaching your puppy good boating behavior before you ever go out on the water will make it much easier for you to control your puppy when the time comes to head out on the water.

Step 2

Prepare your puppy for an outing on the water. Put your puppy's life jacket on him to ensure that he will not sink or drown if he jumps off the boat or falls out of the boat at any time during your boating adventure. Attach your leash to your puppy's harness or collar. Be sure to have treats on your person before you put the boat in the water.

Step 3

Place your boat in the water, then ask your puppy to load into your boat using the same commands you used when the boat was on dry land. Reward your puppy with a treat or verbal praise when he responds to your command. Ask your puppy to sit in the location you have taught him to sit in on the boat. Reward him again when he does what he is asked to.

Step 4

Take your puppy out on his first boat ride. Have a friend or family member run the boat while you work with your puppy. Sit down beside your puppy and maintain control of the leash so the dog can not jump overboard if he panics or gets overexcited when the boat starts moving. As the boat starts moving, praise your puppy for good behavior and firmly correct any negative behavior, such as standing up or trying to jump off the boat. Continue to correct bad behavior and praise and reward good behavior until your puppy fully understands how he is supposed to behave when on a boat.


  • Never tie your dog to anything inside the boat. If he jumped over the side he could hang himself.


  • A puppy who has mastered basic obedience training will be much easier and safer to control on a boat, so it is a good idea to make sure your puppy has already learned the basics of good behavior and listening before your attempt to teach him to ride on your boat with you. Very young puppies with no idea how to behave are not ready to be taken on a boat ride and can be a danger to themselves.

  • You can not make your dog like riding on your boat, that will be up to him, however you can train him to ride safely.

Items You Will Need

  • Harness or collar
  • Leash
  • Treats
  • Canine life jacket
  • Boat
  • Human helper