Taking a dog sailing


New member
28 Mar 2005
I have a 6 month old Border Collie and intend to take it cruising on our Sadler 29. Has anybody any tips about taking dogs sailing and whether they get sea sick and any advice that anyone may have.

Thanks David


Active member
23 Aug 2003
Brighton, UK
Biggest problem is the long transit and dog trying to cross all its legs! Mine used to get very upset if he was forced to wee or defecate, and would need reasurance afterwards that we were not angry with him.

Some boats seem to be designed to make it very difficult to get small children onboard, and almost impossible with a dog, so a good lifejacket/lifting harness is a great help. If the boat is bouncing around a lot, dogs also get sea sick (some more than others), but what they really dislike is not being able to move around without sliding about, thus a good nest is a great idea.

dogs can also get too much sun so if you are forcing the children to cover up, think also about the dog, and make sure they have plenty of water.

Do your best to stop them barking - we all know it is not possible to keep them quiet, but really dislike those that are barking continuously, especially when the owners are doing nothing about it.

Dog poop on the pontoon is a real no-no

Some dogs really love sailing, but others never adapt (bit like humans). My hound used to love the tender particularly for some reason, and was still coming out with us when he was 15 years old.

Wet dog hair is even worse in the confines of a small boat than in the house, so lots of towels, and a heated hair dryer are a good investment! My dog was a cross between collie and Labrador, but his hair was all lab, so one quick shake and he was practically dry! - you wont be so lucky with a border collie.

You will find dog hair everywhere!


New member
18 Feb 2002
West Yorkshire, UK
Our two, one border one border/beardie collie cross seem to love being onboard. They are both bitches and don't need a pee often and manage well. They like to have us all in one place always look comfortable.

We have to lift them on but that's no big deal.

Take yours out for a couple of shortish trips and see how it goes. You find your own solutions to suit the dog and the boat. At 6 months he/she's still a pup and will adapt pretty fast. Your biggest problem may be too much youthful enthusiasm initially so watch out for him jumping in the oggin after things.

I would not worry too much. They an intelligent breed and will figure things out.


New member
16 May 2001
Isle of Wight / Jersey
We sailed up to last season with a dog and a bitch. The dog had to go ashore for the toilet but the bitch would go out on deck. The bitch got seasick as a pup but soon grew out of it. Both adjusted well and enjoyed being with us, they seemed to regard the boat as somewhere between the house and the car. It's a bit like sailing with kids, there are minor limitations but no insurmountable problems.

Certainly around The Solent, more and more people seem to be taking their dogs sailing with them.


16 Feb 2005
Tried sailing with my two lab/collie crosses (regret gone now ) for years. they never seemed to get the hang of the winches..........mind you , one of `em started taking a real interest in the helm.......!

Colvic Watson

Well-known member
23 Nov 2004
we take our Lab and our Jack russell with us everytime we go to the boat. Jack Russell loves it and enjoys being out with the wind blowing her ears. Lab sleeps soundly when the engine is running but is still pretty anxious about being under sail.
With both wearing doggie life vests and netting around the deck we are less anxious about them scrambling overboard.
Having housetrained both of them they are far too nervous of a telling-off to poop on the deck so we have rigged up a litter tray with turf in it to give them a more authentic doggie poo experience. Much easier than rowing ashore! /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif


Well-known member
11 Jun 2001
Inland France + Oxon.
Our lab Chloe loved the boat from the first time she leapt aboard. She especially loved being on deck and watching all the activity going on around her in the marina or anchorage. She has never been sea-sick (famous last words) but when things get lively she disappears down below to curl up under the table and not slide around - she's obviously not overjoyed at the situation overall. She also loves being hoisted down into the dinghy and being ferried off to some beach or other exciting excursion. Being a labrador and therefore at least half-amphibian she regards diving in and swimming as better than walking on dry land any day. The many months we were on the canals, with both unlimited swimming and towpath country walkies were bliss.


Snags (some minor).

She does slide around sometimes and her claws scratch the teakwork decking. A bit. Not much. Has been known to fall off the companionway steps (in both directions going up and down).

Being a completely soft and loveable soul she attracts a great deal of shore-side interest and not just from kiddywinks. She likes this so much she can lose the plot. Tail wagging furiously, she has been known to leap bank-wards whilst still (safely?) tied and collared which then abruptly stopped her in mid-flight, suspended her from the deck over the drink by the collar, which she then fell out of and we then had the task of working out how to retrieve a heavy labrador having yet more fun swimming around.

Hairs. Loads of them, in a relatively small space.

Wet smelly dog in a small space.

Wet nose thrust into one's face early in the morning.

The most comfortable spot in the cockpit bagged.

A well trained country animal, she will not take a leak or a dump on the boat, nor on a jetty or a pontoon. She's not keen on any hard surface and we had a devil of a job when we were in Paris (although she loved the crowds).
We reluctantly decided it was better for both of us if she didn't come with us cruising in the Med, with the prospect of long, or at least repeated, sea passages, and unknown situations vis-a-vis trips to the shore morning and evening. Didn't want to treat her wrong by denying her proper access to . . . facilities . . . and the opportunity to get some exercise. Didn't want for us to spend all our time working out how we could have done this, and doing it.

[she's back on the farm now, with plenty of smelly horse poo to sniff]


Well-known member
7 May 2003
... until it gets above a F4 ...

when this may happen - she likes going to windward less than we do !

No longer in charge !

Sailed our Sadler 29 with 2 previous boxers for 9 yrs and had great fun. The only bit they did find difficult was the sidedecks - they never worked out that when slipping sticking your claws out has the opposite effect. We now have a boat with teak decks which our current boxer finds easier.

One tip - always remember to stow the grill pan - one of our boxers was at the foot of the companionway when hit by the errant pan - nearly caused a nervous breakdown !

Hope you have lots of fun !