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Old 10-10-2021, 02:44 PM   #1
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Having a dog on board questions.

I see that many people have dogs on board.

Iíd like to get a puppy but am concerned about what itís like to have a dog on board. How to train them. Potential damage to the boat. Safety for the puppy. Issues with bathroom situations.

(Maybe it would be best to get an older dog?). Iím thinking of a dog like an English Springer spaniel (perhaps too energetic) or a lab.

I have a Portuguese bridge and walk around decks so that handles some of the concerns.

Iíll be more on the hook than at marinas. I also wonder about access to 5e shore in Desolation and The Broughtons.

Any helpful suggestions or experiences?
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Old 10-10-2021, 02:54 PM   #2
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I have spent the last 15-odd years summer cruising with up to three Labradors. Labs love the water and going for walks so they have great time. They need to go to shore at least twice a day so easy access to the dinghy is key.

But they do have large bladders: on the occasional 24-hour or so passage across the Mediterranean they have preferred to hold it in to doing it on the deck.

A puppy could cause damage to the boat, same as in a house.
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Old 10-10-2021, 03:38 PM   #3
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We started cruising with our first Sheltie as a seven year old dog. We couldn't train her to do it on deck. She would hold it for 24 hour passages. I remember once anchoring behind Crab Cay off of Great Abaco Island after an all night and half day passage. I took her ashore to the coral reef to pee. No grass or sand anywhere. She wandered around for a few minutes looking for a suitable place and gave up and squatted.... for a long time.

After she passed we got a Sheltie puppy. It was a bit tedious but we trained her to go on a potty pad, a 2x2-1/2' square of blotter with a plastic backing. Once we got her well trained to do it on land, I cut a 3 x 3' square of outdoor carpeting and set it up on the bow with a potty pad on top. She took to that easily. Then I removed the potty pad and eventually she did it on the carpet.

The reason for the carpet was that I tied a short line to a corner and threw it overboard for an hour or so while at anchor. It always came up reasonably clean so I didn't have to deal with soiled potty pads.

We would just point to the front of the boat and say "go potty" when we thought it was time. Once we sent her up and she quickly came back. We sent her back and after a few seconds she came back barking and running in circles. I went forward to the bow and sure enough the carpet had blown off the bow and was hanging in the water by its tie off. I made sure that didn't happen again.

For rough passages both did fine. I remember beating (this was a sailboat at the time) into a 25 kt wind heeling 20 degrees with the dog below. My wife asked me to go down and check on her. She was wedged into the galley nook fast asleep.

The only real problems we had was barking when we left her on board and went ashore without her. She would annoy our neighbors at anchor.

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Old 10-10-2021, 03:39 PM   #4
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We have had dogs almost our whole life including boating with them. We had 2 Golden Retrievers that loved going on the boat. Each morning we would throw a ball towards shore and they would jump in and swim to shore. Then we would tell them to go to the bathroom, we always train them to go on command. Then they would swim back to the boat. One of them could climb on board without any help, the other one wanted a small boost. We now have gone to Labs. Our current one loves the boat. When we travel and stop at a new marina, he will hurry to find the first green sprig to wet down. Then I tell him to go to the boat and he will lead me back to our boat without fail. He has never made a wrong turn going back to the boat. He is also trained to go on command. We take a piece of green astroturf and put a pee pad underneath it to absorb the urine. Then we dip it in the water to rinse it. However he can and does go 24 hours between urinating and the vet says it is fine, that he will go when he has to. We have a PFD for him with 2 handles on the back to lift him out of the water if need be. He likes to wear it since we gave him treats each time we put it on him. Then I carried him around with the handles so he would be used to it. Our new boat has a large swim platform and we are putting an extension on it this winter. He absolutely loves sitting on the platform and watching the activities on our river.
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Old 10-10-2021, 04:12 PM   #5
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A note about Springer Spaniels, I've owned three of them. First this dog is not a "dominant' breed in the States and Canada. This is a good thing as they aren't overbred by crappy dog breeders.

But here is the important bit I want to communicate. There are two types of English Springer Spaniels.

1) The first is the "Bench" or "Show" ESP. These dogs are mostly dark coloured hair with some white. I will give you a link of what I am talking about. Note: At dog shows, etc. they sport a coat with a great deal of "feathering." This is the long hair under the belly, back of the legs, front and ears. This cut looks great but is a pain in the ass for dogs that go out into the real world of dirt, mud, water, etc. So in this link you'll see a large picture of a "liver and white." (Brown and white) Notice below the large picture you will see a Springer with a shorter coat, how many of us keep our Springer trimmed.

https://www.google.com/search?q=show...yV1F8eMWmgv0sM

2) The second kind of English Springer Spaniel is called a "working" or "field" Springer. I will again link a pic of one, but you will see they are mostly white with some dark area of fur. You should also note that when you look up problems with this breed, they are more dominant in this second type of ESP. Also you might read the ESP's need plenty of exercise. My experience with my three Show ESP's is that this wasn't really the case but it is with this second type. In fact the most hyperactive dog I have ever met was a field ESP.

https://www.google.com/search?q=fiel...&bih=937&dpr=1

Springers of the first type are excellent boat dogs, get a female if you want a slightly smaller dog. I wouldn't recommend the second type though I'm sure someone here will say they owned a field ESP and it was great. I'd still not recommend them.
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Old 10-10-2021, 04:17 PM   #6
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Having a dog on board questions.

My 7 years old English Springer loves going to the boat since she was a puppy. She loves running on the beach, swimming and chasing minnows for hours however, she will never jump of the boat (something that I do not encourage personally). I usually take her twice to shore to do her business but she did learn all by her self to do it on the swim platform. I always look for Areas that have some sort of beach before I drop my Anchor for the night however, that is not always possible. She never made had any accidents inside the boat and loves going fishing on the Dinghy with me.
Good luck,
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Old 10-10-2021, 04:28 PM   #7
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Interestingly, my first two Springer's loved the water and like labs, I'd be dragging them away from the ocean. My second one loved to go on long solo ocean swims. My third one is almost aloof to the water. Mostly she will go in if playing with other dogs that go in for play.
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Old 10-10-2021, 06:51 PM   #8
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Thought I would throw out a dog breed you most likely have not heard of, they kind of look like a downsized Golden. They are a sporting dog, Canadian breed, kind of happy go lucky dogs. Below is a short video of the Nova Scotia Duck Toller breed:

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Old 10-10-2021, 08:01 PM   #9
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I've had a dog on a boat one time... just NOT for me. It requires a whole lot of time and commitment.... not just a little bit. Almost constant. Way too much work and effort, but I can understand how folks love their pets.



I'll get a pet rock... oh no... that's too much work, too.
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Old 10-10-2021, 10:52 PM   #10
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We have an 11yr old and an 11 month old English springer and boat in the same area. Small enough to lift and toss when needed. Love the water. We clip them short year around so no hair/shedding. Great dogs. Probably won’t ever own another breed. Other than needing to enjoy a dew-damp dingy ride to the beach each morning, no other downside.
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Old 10-11-2021, 12:13 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsn48 View Post
A note about Springer Spaniels, I've owned three of them. First this dog is not a "dominant' breed in the States and Canada. This is a good thing as they aren't overbred by crappy dog breeders.

But here is the important bit I want to communicate. There are two types of English Springer Spaniels.

1) The first is the "Bench" or "Show" ESP. These dogs are mostly dark coloured hair with some white. I will give you a link of what I am talking about. Note: At dog shows, etc. they sport a coat with a great deal of "feathering." This is the long hair under the belly, back of the legs, front and ears. This cut looks great but is a pain in the ass for dogs that go out into the real world of dirt, mud, water, etc. So in this link you'll see a large picture of a "liver and white." (Brown and white) Notice below the large picture you will see a Springer with a shorter coat, how many of us keep our Springer trimmed.

https://www.google.com/search?q=show...yV1F8eMWmgv0sM

2) The second kind of English Springer Spaniel is called a "working" or "field" Springer. I will again link a pic of one, but you will see they are mostly white with some dark area of fur. You should also note that when you look up problems with this breed, they are more dominant in this second type of ESP. Also you might read the ESP's need plenty of exercise. My experience with my three Show ESP's is that this wasn't really the case but it is with this second type. In fact the most hyperactive dog I have ever met was a field ESP.

https://www.google.com/search?q=fiel...&bih=937&dpr=1

Springers of the first type are excellent boat dogs, get a female if you want a slightly smaller dog. I wouldn't recommend the second type though I'm sure someone here will say they owned a field ESP and it was great. I'd still not recommend them.
I grew up with many English springers, all the show type though I didnít know there were differences. I did use them for pheasant hunting back in the day too. Wonderful dogs. Energetic perhaps so I worry about them on board not being able to Always exercise.
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Old 10-11-2021, 12:14 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by rsn48 View Post
Thought I would throw out a dog breed you most likely have not heard of, they kind of look like a downsized Golden. They are a sporting dog, Canadian breed, kind of happy go lucky dogs. Below is a short video of the Nova Scotia Duck Toller breed:

Cute! Do they like to swim?
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Old 10-11-2021, 12:39 AM   #13
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.........
I'll get a pet rock... oh no... that's too much work, too.
Remember, if you do get a pet rock to only water it with distilled water.
cross thread points.
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Old 10-11-2021, 01:12 AM   #14
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Old 10-11-2021, 05:22 AM   #15
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Having your pet swim ashore might be fine in some locations , but in Florida it might become gator food!

Probably less heartbreaking to train the dog to use astroturf ,which works well.
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Old 10-11-2021, 06:35 AM   #16
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Cute! Do they like to swim?

Absolutely!

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Old 10-11-2021, 06:43 AM   #17
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You will do better to get a very young puppy and bring it on board right away. That way, the puppy will think living on a boat is normal and there will be no need to adjust to boat life. Even if you are not cruising right now, take the puppy to the boat and sleep and eat on the boat.

We trained out Yorkie (small dogs may be easier on a boat) to use puppy pads and she did, but after several years, she decided that she would rather use the cockpit so she scratches on the door and we let her out to do her business. We can easily rine the cockpit with the transom shower.
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Old 10-11-2021, 06:57 AM   #18
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It depends on the dog. Our Standard Poodle was almost 5 before he ever set foot on a boat. All he needed to be happier on the boat than at home was a set of sneakers to keep him from sliding on the decks. He's got 12+ hours of bladder capacity, so no concerns there. And he's got better sea legs than any human I know.

Here are a few pictures of him on the boat, including one of him being happy to get some attention a few hours into a long travel day (after 10 days on the boat). He loves to just hang out and sleep. The last time we were out on a rough day, he was perfectly content to lay down on the deck and just slide around (he seemed to think it was fun).
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Old 10-11-2021, 07:16 AM   #19
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Agree with above, smaller breed you can pick up, start with a puppy, let them decide where to go, reward them then rinse off the cockpit. We’ve managed to skip the AstroTurf and dinghy trips to shore.
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Old 10-11-2021, 08:33 AM   #20
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We started our "paws aboard" experience with a Great (Pretty Good) Pyrenees and a really large Golden Retriever (Receiver). Both males, all good, though neither would "go" on board.

After losing them, we "downsized" to a single Golden Receiver, well above average size, started his boat life with as a puppy, all good, still wouldn't "go" onboard.

We had a couple off-boat incidents over the years, mostly in the marina. Harnesses with grab handles are absolutely (IMO) necessary, even if the critter is not always wearing a full PFD.

These days we're dog-less (and only one cat left), but I'd be inclined to downsize even more, to something maybe no larger than the 40-50... mostly based on what I can (usually) dead lift now.

I'm also thinking that it might be easier to deal with a female on board, not as much spraying/scenting during the "go" process. That's theory though, not based on experience yet. I forget the name of it, but there's a commercial system for capturing/draining pet urine and so forth; presumably that's work OK in a cockpit or on a swim platform...

There are several attractive "marine" breeds (web feet, etc.) but we mentally tend toward rescue, which usually means you get what you get.

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