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Old 09-02-2018, 13:31   #1
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Dog harness / lifejacket and tethering

Hi all,

Curious to hear what others who cruise with dogs use while underway. Our little man (A 25 pound Catahoula Leopard/East Texas pavement special) is pretty good about staying on the boat, but his Outward Hound lifejacket feels like it could slip off and lacks a good place to clip in him into the cockpit.

Obviously, if it's really rough I'll throw him down below, but curious to hear what jackets others have had luck with and if you have any special tricks for keeping a dog tethered without constant tangling.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 10-02-2018, 03:04   #2
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Re: Dog harness / lifejacket and tethering

We've had a large dog on board our 21' sport boat since she was a pup, and we've now transferred that experience to our trawler and dinghy. She's now 11. She's never been boating without her jacket on, taken off only at night when we go to bed. We've been through several jackets. We grab the jacket's strap along the back to hoist her back aboard the boat after she goes in for a dip. She loves the water and goes in frequently while we're drifting, trading out wakeboarders, tubers, skiers, etc.

The jacket we're currently using is a Paws Aboard and is the best we've had. The nice thing about the Paws Aboard is that it has a netting support held together with velcro along the dog's underside from behind the front legs to across the tummy. It's sturdy, well made, has lasted us 4 or 5 seasons and will go a few more. If we needed a new one, I'd probably get another.

Whichever jacket you choose, get it sized appropriately for your dog, and don't go cheap. If your dog will be in and out of the water, ensure that the jacket is well made, its attachments to the dog are supportive, and thorough. If your dog will be in and out of the water on purpose, consider how that will be done and how the jacket will be used in that process.

Our dog is usually tethered when the boats are moving. We don't attach the tether to the jacket but to the dog's collar, much sturdier and currently a compression type that encourages the powerful dog to not strain. She's used to being tethered and knows her limits. When the tether is removed, she waits for permission, and then gets in the water when told it's okay. She hasn't tried jumping from the trawler's main deck to the water, but there have been a few anxious moments next to the pier when she's usually tethered. If she has a leash on while in the dinghy, she usually acts like she's tethered even though the other end of the leash isn't usually attached to anything. She's not well or easily trained, but consistency seems to be working in our favor.

Hope this helps. Best of luck with yours, especially while boating.
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Old 10-02-2018, 06:25   #3
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Re: Dog harness / lifejacket and tethering

Thanks very much Greg. These jackets are more substantial than what we currently have. The ladder made by them is an interesting idea as well. I should clarify that our dog is 35 not 25 lbs, so yes being able to grab the handle on the back and lift him into the boat is a must.

Really appreciate the suggestion.
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Old 12-02-2018, 13:31   #4
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Re: Dog harness / lifejacket and tethering

We have a Ruff Wear life jacket for our Jack Russell Terrier. He gets tethered to the jack lines while motoring and can travel the full length of the boat. Under sail, we tether him to the cockpit. We use a bungee-type of tether that has caribiner clips on each end. We don't use the small plastic ring provided as we're afraid it's a bit flimsy. We attach it right to the harness handle. Works for us.

When we were going down the ICW, one time we decided not to tether him. Had full use of the boat. All was fine for a while. He likes to lay at the very bow of the boat, like a hood ornament. At one point he got up, turned around, missed his footing and slid right over the front. We slowed the boat, turned it around and there's the little thing, paddling towards us as if all life depended on it (he does not like the water). We snatched him up with a boat hook. The handle of the vest is super sturdy. Now, we've only had him aboard since December so how long the vest will last is to be determined.

I attached a pic, but I don't know why it's not showing up.
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