View Full Version : Dogs on boats

02-19-2015, 02:47 PM
Well, it finally happened. After many years without a dog we got a 5 month old puppy. Now I am wondering how that will effect our boating habits. Other than introducing the dog to the boat and letting her go for a couple of hours trip, what about overnighting? We have a houseboat at a mooring where we like to stay overnight and our runabout for day trips. Completely new at this dog business. With our old dog it was canoeing and that worked out fine since there were frequent stops on the hard where he could take care of business. Any ideas welcome. Thanks.

Paul Pless
02-19-2015, 03:26 PM

Ian McColgin
02-19-2015, 03:32 PM
In many anchorages at about 0600 the sounds of outboards will let you know that all the males of cruising couples are taking their pup ashore.

One of the handiest things is a bit of astroturf so the pup does not have to hit the beach every time.

Whether on the beach or the water, disposal of fecal material is an issue. Too many boaters presume upon the freedom of the waters and the litoral zone.

Ian McColgin
02-19-2015, 03:46 PM
Might add, doggie PFD, properly fitted, really helps. The better ones have a handle so you can get a hand or a boat hook on it and bring Fido aboard. Even dogs that are great, essentially tireless, swimmers - goldens, labs, newfs, portugese water dogs, poodles and such - benefit from the way the PFD handle makes getting from water to boat far less traumatic for all. And a lot of dogs - collies, many scent hounds, bulls and pugs - can't swim much anyway.

The other big hazard on boats for most dogs is the many ladders and steep access to anything. Especially going down, their spines take a beating. Again, there are dogs super well adapted, like the barge dog breeds you see in Europe kept for their ability to deter rats that are at home on ladders, as are agile breeds like the Portugese water dog. But most breeds will develop spine and hip trouble if you're not careful. Or they will simply require that you carry them from deck to cabin and on or off the boat.

All this can be worked with if that's what you want.

02-19-2015, 07:53 PM
Skipper, yes, that's her name, is a mutt, mostly hound, will weigh about 40 pounds or so when fully grown. I like the idea of astroturf for the foredeck of the house boat and the pfd with handle is already in the works. She is house broken so it might be interesting to get her to use it. Turds can go in a plastic bag and the turf can be hosed out on the driveway once we get home I guess. I have a friend who claims his lab goes while swimming. Is that possible … well, I do so maybe. Keep the ideas coming.

Dan McCosh
02-20-2015, 03:13 PM
Tried a couple of years to cruise with my daughter's dog, a mixed Shepherd. One memorable day, the dog managed to climb a six-foot ladder, and jumped towards the rail after knocking the hatch overboard. This made for a difficult choice--catch the dog or the hatch. I went for the dog, figuring the hatch would float. It did, but it floated away, lost at sea. Another time a (human) guest got into an argument over who got the dry bunk, and lost. Then there was the time when the dog wanted to swim in the lagoon, and an alligator had just escaped from the zoo.....

02-20-2015, 05:19 PM
My first golden I trained to poop on an old, coiled line that I would just kick off the stern for a few minutes of cleaning...The one I have now needs to be taken ashore, although she will just jump off and swim to shore if I'm too slow. The biggest issue has been training her to lay down when we start to heel; almost lost her overboard a couple of times. Dog hair down below is also an issue. I'd leave her up on deck, but then she spends the night growling at the mooring ball, and neither of us gets any sleep (like last night).

Dan Payne
02-20-2015, 11:36 PM
I want a dog.
Gypsy lifestyle would not be fair to the hound.

02-21-2015, 06:05 AM
The younger they're started, the better. It's actually quite hard to convince a properly house-trained adult dog that "going" on deck isn't the same as doing it on the verandah of your house.
A lifejacket is a definite must. Apart from the safety aspect, it makes getting the dog in and out of the dinghy much easier - "handbag dog" :D
I too have used the coiled rope you kick overboard and tow for a bit, but I think the idea of a piece of plastic pool grass (is that what you Americans mean by "Astroturf"?) is even better - you could start getting the dog used to using it at home, so he/she should take to using it on board easier.
The most extreme scheme for a "doggie comfort station" I've seen was in an issue of "Passagemaker". The devoted dog-owners had a (so-called) trawler yacht of the after well-deck, deck level saloon type. They laid (some kind of) plastic sheeting on the deck, then a layer of gravel, a layer of soil and real turf on top. No, really​! I've seen the photos! I assume the boat didn't go in open water too often.

02-21-2015, 10:17 AM
Lets not forget the dog's comfort. Plenty of water. A place in the shade.