Anyone that knows our Golden Retriever Ella or has ever seen her at the beach knows that there’s one thing our dog is absolutely mad about, water!
Nothing can stop her from jumping in unless she is physically restrained.
So, even before we started sailing we considered getting Ella a lifejacket because she’s so fearless around water.
Just a couple of months after we taught her to swim she was already venturing into quite deep waters and we would have to call her in.
That’s when we decided she needed a lifejacket although she’s such a great swimmer. We were worried she would swim until exhaustion and drown because unlike humans dogs don’t know how to simply stay floating trying to catch a breath, they swim constantly.
Our little K9 Michael Phelps needed a lifejacket and by then we were already looking for our yacht so we had some key points in mind of what we wanted on a life jacket for her:
Underbelly covered - one of the most common designs on dog lifejackets has the webbing straps used to secure the vest passing under the belly/chest area, which on bigger size dogs may cause injuries due to their weight. Some lifejacket designs have this area covered in the same construction material of the remaining vest and the webbing straps running over for extra protection;
Adjustable straps and telescoping neck - to ensure a correct fitting but easy to use;
Strong handle - to help get Ella out of the water or juststeer her in the right direction;
Good range of movement both while running and swimming for the dog while using the lifejacket.
After long research online of different models and brands we found the one that we thought was most suitable for our needs.
The Ruffwear Float Coat fitted nicely on Ella and we picked the yellow one (wave orange) to improve the chances of visibility in case Ella falls from the yacht. We do love the other colours and if we could we would have another lifejacket to use when we're not sailing to avoid the constant removal and installation of the “safety devices” we added to the vest and that we don’t use when we are just out and about.
Check our post Sailing with a dog - getting ready for details on these.
Despite her very annoyed look the first time we made her wear it, she now loves it and knows it means one of two things: we’re going sailing or party time!
Her favourite thing to do while using the lifejacket I would guess is running on the beach waiting for the biggest wave to come and then run to crash it just like a little kid.
Of course there’s been more than one occasion where the wave was way bigger than she was hoping for but because the lifejacket gives her quite good buoyancy she always managed to get out safely, which means that by now she learned that if she jumps in way to crash the waves laterally the jacket “spits” her out of the wave and clearly she thinks that’s a blast!
1 year later and after intense use at the beach, river and sailing we still think we made the right choice for our dog. But with experience, we also have a couple things that we would like to see improved on the Ruffwear lifejacket having in mind the specific use we give to it.
If you decide that this lifejacket is suitable for your dog and is what you're looking for please consider making a purchase through the below Amazon link. It costs you nothing extra and you can still take advantage of any sales or promotions and at the same time we get a small percentage of the sale that will help fund this website and it's content.
*** The above post is the sole opinion of the website owners based on their experience.
*** Sailing The Dream is not affiliated or endorsed by Ruffwear nor by any of their associated resellers. Ella, however, would very much like to be a test dog and model for Ruffwear.