Features August 2012 Issue

Safe Boating with Pets

Special considerations should be taken when boating with your dog. The importance of life jackets for pets recently made headlines when a 5-year-old Pomeranian fell from his family’s boat on the Chicago River near Lake Michigan, and was missing for nearly 24 hours before turning up safe on land.

Photo By Practical-Sailor.com

Well-fitting life jackets are mandatory for even boat-savvy dogs; accidents happen!

For owners with dogs who love to swim, getting the dog safely back aboard the boat can be a challenge. Many owners underestimate the height difference between the surface of the water and the edge of the boat, and struggle to haul their water-logged dogs in from the water. That experience was exactly what motivated Jim Perkins of Waterdog Adventure Gear to invent his patented Wag Boarding Steps.

“We looked at other products to help our dog board the boat, and as an engineer, I was disappointed with the design and function,” he says, noting that some products attach to the boat’s swim ladder or swim step with straps that allow the dog ramp to move and sway with the movement of the water, which can frighten some dogs.

There are a number of water ramps and steps on the market. Perkins says the proprietary attachment design of his product provides more stability than its competitors, and describes his stairs (which are 14 inches wide with a 4-inch rise between each step) as a “more natural, pet-friendly approach” to water ladders for pets. His product debuted in January at the Chicago Boat Show and based on customer feedback, he’s already working on a pool version, a version customized to meet the needs of fisherman and duck hunters, and a set of automobile stairs.

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