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sailing with a dog - advice please

birdseye

Well-known member
Joined
9 Mar 2003
Messages
21,219
Location
s e wales
Mutt is a decent swimmer, at least for short distances and is spaniel size. Boat is a 35ft sailboat. So how do the two of us manage both dog and boat on cruises?

What have you found that works?
 

Graham376

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Joined
15 Apr 2018
Messages
3,261
Location
Boat on Mooring off Faro, Home near Abergele
As an observer, I've met many dogs of all sizes on boats and most seem happy with some trained to pee on newspapers, one large boat did have a patch of artificial grass though. Have only come across one dog with severe problems which has wrecked owner's sailing plans.

P.S. You can't take an animal back to UK on a private boat, has to be a recognised ferry or by air.
 

Babylon

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Joined
7 Jan 2008
Messages
3,834
Location
Solent
Its do-able but is a constraint.

I previously did shorter local cruises with my ex-girlfriend's Springer-Pointer cross, both single-handed and with her or my son.

More recently been training the Cocker pup (9mths old) on boating routines. He will wee and poo on my own mid-river pontoon (bucket of seawater rapidly disposes) but much prefers a good run first on dry land, which involves a dinghy run ashore. As a pup of a very energetic breed he really needs a lot of frequent running around!

He has demonstrated that he can swim - currently happy to go out about 30-40m from the shore - which is useful as he has already eaten the straps off his buoyancy-aid!

Small boat (27') so Cocker is a more manageable size than the previous 25kg canine! Just how happy he'll be on longer passages (not done any yet as all my trips to the boat so far have been to get delayed maintenance jobs done!) only time will tell.

Current thinking - for future longer passages, say up to a few hours coastal - is to feed, water and exercise him before slipping lines, then ration his intake of water until nearing destination. Good quality feed is helpful - avoid the rubbish containing too much salt, preservatives etc as this makes dogs more thirsty.
 

tyce

Active member
Joined
6 Jan 2004
Messages
1,446
Location
cumbria
Our little dog loves it, she try's to hang on for the toilet but we have a cut off piece of astro turf that we put on the cabin sole and she makes a bee line for that. Just wash it out every so often.
 

Portland Billy

Active member
Joined
31 Aug 2009
Messages
350
Our cockapoo will quite happily do a cruise of six hours provided she has been well exercised before departure.
I would be reluctant to expect her to do longer.
 

ashtead

Active member
Joined
17 Jun 2008
Messages
2,145
Location
Surrey and Gosport UK
Our canine crew tends to normally wear his lifeline when sailing in summer as opposed to life jacket as the buoyancy aids can be quite warm . When berthing he tends to be placed below in his cabin in his bed. You might consider a cooling mat if warm weather expected and you want to use the stern shower however he will happily was down in local boating lake if given the chance.
Other thoughts are a dog can mistake mud for solid land and in desperation take a short cut with muddy results, as they get older larger dogs appreciate a passerelle to board as less hip strain. Give him his own cabin and locker where his toys, food,Boneos, etc can be stored and try to train him to turn in to his cabin on command. When choosing vessel look at steps-many smaller dogs cannot navigate most steps from salon so ideally a flat deck saloon might assist. Beware of swans and dogist beach signs with variable access rules . It terms of heads ideally you try to source an Amel with flat stern area completed with fitted green lawn but most dogs last 8 or so hours if walked before casting off . Try to find pontoon berths with a poles etc when visiting but be ware sadly many marinas have removed wash down hosepipes so look for marinas with large walking areas nearby , lymington yacht haven is excellent with plenty of nearby areas or east cowes with local recreation ground etc or Newtown creek of course . Some city located marina more limited for free space .
As said spaniel size are good but I might be tempted by a short coated non moulting cocker cross ,however the days on is your friend along with Wilco floor wipes. Good food is key and stock up with his regular choice say box of biscuits and wet food in sachets so easier to store than nasty tinned stuff.
if letting him swim in sea be ware of any tidal rips though
The real issue is problems of cross channel arcane controls over vessels used to return but I guess you could hire a car or use one of the dog transportation companies which stop for walk before boarding tunnel train and seem to have pet friendly drivers etc.
 

C08

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Joined
8 Feb 2013
Messages
2,475
We have had 4 dogs on boats and they all loved it. Spending time close with us, walks, swimming. Most dogs we trained to use a square of astroturf on the foredeck and then just wash it over the side, one dog would only go ashore but xchannel is not on with a dog anyway. The only difficulty we ever had was getting the dogs from a tender into the boat so I think a big heavy dog would not be possible except with marina stops only.
 

chris-s

Member
Joined
24 Apr 2019
Messages
81
Our little dogs have just about learnt to use a tray with either gravel or fake turf in. Not so keen to use it underway tho. The fake turf can simply be washed thru, the gravel or sand can be rinsed or replenished easily.

Might not be do practical with a Great Dane, but works for us.
 

sailingmartin

New member
Joined
28 Nov 2017
Messages
13
Location
Bristol
We sail regularly with either one or two dogs and both crossed the Atlantic with us in 2015 with no ill-effects. Larger dog has done more than 10,000 miles including a round Britain trip in a Crabber 26 (see Cruising Associations’ March issue) and two seasons cruising the E Coast of the USA from New York to New Orleans. Artificial grass for longer trips as others have mentioned plus dog exercises (physical and mental) when away from shore for more than a few days. Our view is that they would rather be with you than left at home. Lots of dogs in most marinas along the South Coast. Unlike me, the dogs have never been seasick although I understand some can be. Pet passports have made travel much easier.
 

dom

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Joined
17 Dec 2003
Messages
6,065
Some super impressive efforts and good advice above. (y) Re big dogs, I agree regarding sailing, but one of our rotties used to love going out on the rib with the kids over to say Sandown, Totland or wherever on the Isle of Wight during the day and then returning to the marina in the evening.

Dog loved it, although once we left him for a few minutes in the rib pond in Cowes and a bloke crossing the ribs - my sponsons were black - nearly fell into the water when he belatedly realised a dog was sitting there :)

Only caution I would make is scratches to the woodwork. I still have claw marks in the companionway sides where one of the dogs took a flying run, messed up, and then slid back down into the boat!!
 

prv

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Joined
29 Nov 2009
Messages
36,063
Location
Southampton
along with Wilco floor wipes.
A friend brought his spaniel along one time when we just went to the boat for a drink, without going anywhere. She pissed on the cabin sole, which is laminate so would be easy to wipe up, except that it all ran immediately down the gaps around that board and into the bilge. A bit of dog-piss in the deep, wet, and grungy bilge of a traditional old boat might not be the worst thing in the world, but Ariam has a modern shallow bilge divided into sections by the stiffening ribs and stringers, so this section is normally bone dry and used for storing bottles of spare drinking water. I had to unscrew and lift that board (the hatch in it didn't really provide enough access), wash the water bottles, sponge the piss out of the bilge section and then wipe it down too. All in all it would have been a lot less hassle if she'd just pissed in the middle of my living room at home.

I like dogs, and approve of people having them on their boats (as long as the dog's happy to be there). But the watertightness of any particular dog, and the results when they leak, is definitely something to consider!

Pete
 

Bluetack42

Member
Joined
7 Apr 2020
Messages
31
Our previous dog, a German short haired pointer passed away last year, she did a lot of sailing in her time, at 16 weeks her first overnight was anchored off Priory Bay on a 29 foot bilge keeler with 2 adults and 4 children, that was the only time she ever let go on board (my daughter had smuggled her into her sleeping bag and paid the price!). For ever after she held everything until ashore, The only real pain was the need to take her to shore last thing at night & first thing in the morning, ok in a marina but sometimes tricky when anchored & the weather a bit iffy.

Roll on a year and her successor, also a GSP, is now 12 weeks old, last week was her first overnight on board, anchored in Chichester harbour. We have taken the significant and some would say slovenly decision to actively encourage letting go, of both types, whilst on board in front of the mast. This worked really well, the mess was flicked/flushed over the side & stress levels much reduced.

She will still have to hold it whilst underway but hopefully will remove the stress & tension whe had previously, I just hope I can get used to the slight unpleasantness of allowing such behaviour on my pride & joy.
 

prv

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29 Nov 2009
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36,063
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Southampton
We have taken the significant and some would say slovenly decision to actively encourage letting go, of both types, whilst on board in front of the mast.
I don't have any real plan to get a dog, but if I did I would certainly train him or her that a certain square of astroturf was an honorary piece of outdoors and ok to go on. Possibly with a backing of thin rubber (attached along one or two edges only) to provide grip on deck and waterproofing. Then it can be laid wherever's convenient (including forward of the mast when at anchor) and the deck stays clean. Put a big grommet in the mat to pass a line through, and it can be thrown overboard for a rinse after use.

I wouldn't want to be constrained to times and places to get ashore to empty the dog. Far, far too limiting for my style of sailing.

Pete
 

Bluetack42

Member
Joined
7 Apr 2020
Messages
31
I don't have any real plan to get a dog, but if I did I would certainly train him or her that a certain square of astroturf was an honorary piece of outdoors and ok to go on. Possibly with a backing of thin rubber (attached along one or two edges only) to provide grip on deck and waterproofing. Then it can be laid wherever's convenient (including forward of the mast when at anchor) and the deck stays clean. Put a big grommet in the mat to pass a line through, and it can be thrown overboard for a rinse after use.

I wouldn't want to be constrained to times and places to get ashore to empty the dog. Far, far too limiting for my style of sailing.

Pete
I like the idea, I think I will give that a go, saves on the potential errors of flicking, was never any good at golf.
 

dgadee

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Joined
13 Oct 2010
Messages
1,805
In Stromness Marina a dog lover put his dog’s bedding into the washing machine and dryer. The stench! I suppose he was, ‘it’s one of the family’ types. My father worked dogs and would never let them into the house. Understandable given the smell in those houses which let them in (and onto the bed!)
 

EugeneR

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21 Aug 2009
Messages
1,093
Location
Hamble
This thread gives me hope. We've just put down a deposit on a cockapoo... 🐶
 

anoccasionalyachtsman

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Joined
15 Jun 2015
Messages
2,451
My five month old pup has taken to it well. He's either forepaws up on the sidedeck watching the other boats, or asleep in a corner. Sees a bit like a young child in that respect. My previous dog worked out for himself that the foredeck was a good loo, as noted kick it off or use a bucket - either of which is miles more pleasant than doing the lawn every couple of days at home.
 
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