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How to Go Fishing With Your Dog: Safety Precautions & Etiquette

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on May 20, 2024 by Dogster Team

man fishing with german sheperd beside him

How to Go Fishing With Your Dog: Safety Precautions & Etiquette

Having a dog to go fishing with is just about as good as having a good fishing buddy. Speaking of having a good fishing buddy, your dog needs to have a basic understanding of fishing with you. Not all dogs make good fishing buddies, and some may even spook the fish, leaving you without a single catch for the day. But that can be avoided by learning how to go fishing with your dog.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll discuss the proper preparation training techniques, safety precautions, and etiquette needed to take your dog with you on a successful day of fishing.


Before You Start

First things first: is your dog a brand new puppy? Or do you have an adult dog that’s been your companion for a while? The reason we ask is that not all dogs have the mental and physical capacity to go fishing, and if your dog is a puppy and still in training, it’s probably best to leave your pup at home. However, if your adult dog understands commands and obeys any commands you give, you can take your dog with no problem.

Some dogs get colder than others, and the weather is an important factor to consider. If you think your dog will be miserable out in damp, cool weather, leave him at home.

owner fishing with labrador retriver dog
Image By: gorillaimages, Shutterstock


Preparation is important if your dog has never gone fishing with you. In that case, you’ll want to prepare your dog beforehand. Start simple and grab your fishing rod. Go into the backyard, cast a few lines by your dog, and observe his reaction. If your dog tries to chase the cast, command him to stay or sit since you certainly don’t want your dog diving into the water every time you cast.

Break out your fishing gear and tackle bag so that your dog can get familiarized with everything you need to go fishing. The last thing you want is your dog’s mouth to get jabbed with a fishing hook. Once you feel your dog is comfortable, give it a try for real.

You’ll also need to consider where you’ll be fishing. Will you fish by boat or off a pier? Regardless, you need to ensure your dog won’t dive into the water. Go to a nearby lake, river, or whatever is close to you where you can legally fish. Cast a few to gauge your dog’s reaction. If he stays, praise him and give him a treat. If he dives into the water, you’ve got more training to do. 


Top 10 Safety Precautions and Etiquette

1. Check Regulations

Not all places allow dogs in fishing waters due to wildlife, such as ground-nesting birds, endangered wildlife, or other factors. Before you head out, ensure your dog is allowed to accompany you on the fishing trip.

sitting dog waiting for a fish with fishing rod at the side
Image By: Madebyindigo, Shutterstock

2. Keep Others in Mind

There are many types of fishing, one being bank fishing. Keep in mind that not everyone is a dog lover, and some people are afraid of dogs. If you’re bank fishing, keep your dog on a leash unless he obeys your commands. If the area allows your dog to be off leash, ensure your dog is well-behaved and obeys your commands to avoid your dog wandering off.

3. Meeting Mr. Fish

If this is the first time your dog is fishing with you, you’ll want to introduce your dog to your first catch. Keep in mind that this may be the first time your dog has ever seen a fish, and his curiosity could get the better of him.

Allow your dog to smell it from a distance and watch his reaction. Some dogs may try to take a bite, but you want to avoid this from happening. Let him see the fish and watch you release it back into the water. After a few times, your dog will get the idea.

fisherman holds caught trout to dog
Image By: Joshua S Hansen, Shutterstock

4. Familiarize Your Dog With the Boat

Getting into a boat may be awkward for your dog at first. Before you head out on a fishing trip by boat, ensure your dog is comfortable getting in and out. You’ll also need to designate a place in the boat for your dog to be comfortable. You should also train your dog not to jump out of the boat until he hears your command.

5. De-barb Your Hooks

The last thing you want is to cut your fishing trip short because your dog has a hook in his eye or mouth. This is very painful for your dog and could cause blindness. De-barbing the hooks is better for the fish, and it helps avoid an accident while you cast. If you can’t de-barb your hooks, you can always put dog goggles on him for added safety.

senior man enjoying with his dog while fishing on the river at sunset
Image By: Drazen Zigic, Shutterstock

6. Dog Gear

You’ll need to bring your dog’s gear along with your fishing gear.

Your dog’s gear should consist of the following:

7. Know Your Dog’s Swimming Abilities

Most dogs are natural swimmers and are comfortable in water, but some are not. Know your dog’s swimming abilities before taking him on any fishing trip. This is especially important if you plan to fly fish in a stream. You don’t want your dog to get swept up in a current downstream. Pick a spot that’s comfortable for your dog, and always keep a close eye on him.

australian shepherd dog swimming in a river
Image By: Nancy_Zonneveld, Shutterstock

8. Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Depending on the time of year and your location, it can get extremely hot as the sun rises and settles in the sky.

Watch for signs of heat exhaustion in your dog that include:
  • Excessive panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Bright red gums
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Body temp higher than 104°F
  • Collapse, seizure, or coma

If the temperatures are sweltering, it’s best to let your dog sit this particular fishing trip out.

9. Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae is a bacteria that grows in freshwater with water temps over 75°F. This algae is toxic to dogs and can cause neurologic or liver damage in your dog, whether he ingests it or just swims in it.

Blooms can pop up sporadically, so be on the lookout. Some agencies will post signs if blue-green algae are present.

man fishing outside at dusk on a lake in the summer with his dog
Image By: Ashley Swanson, Shutterstock

10. Don’t Forget Bathroom Breaks!

If fishing from a boat, let your dog off once to twice to go potty. Keep an eye on him if he runs into a wooded area to potty, as rattlesnakes or other dangers could be lurking.



Fishing with your dog can be a fun bonding experience for both of you. However, before you go, there’s more to it when it comes to safety and etiquette. Be mindful of other people fishing, ensure your dog obeys your commands and is comfortable in whatever terrain or boat you’ll be fishing in, and don’t forget extra water, treats, and a leash. Also, be mindful of hot weather for your dog, check the regulations wherever you plan to fish, and most of all, have fun!

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Marcus Holman, Shutterstock

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