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Old 12-01-2021, 08:35 PM   #1
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Solo cruising with a dog

I have reached the point where if I want to get a dog for my solo loop trip the time is now. I have always had a dog and I a ready to get another. (my best dog ever died 3 years ago). Is cruising solo with a dog a problem I do want to anchor out and I will have my dingy. Give me your wisdom. Thanks
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Old 12-01-2021, 09:04 PM   #2
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I'm not solo (usually) but when I am, our dog is great companionship. Warm lump of dog at my feet in bed on a cold rough night. Somebody to share a meal. Somebody to talk to. Company. Yes, they require time and maintenance and trouble, but on balance, not a close call, definitely worth it. Each dog is different of course but ours will use a puppy pad on the bow. I know some boaters make astroturf trays and that kind of thing, but we just use one of the puppy pads we used for house training and she remembers.

Awkward to get her in the dinghy, but still worth it. Those doggie pfd's with a handle on top are very helpful. Pearl did miss the swim step once and fell in. When I'm on the boat myself, work day at the marina or out, Pearl is a great companion.Click image for larger version

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Old 12-01-2021, 09:24 PM   #3
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Not solo but we had our border collie with us on many Alaska trips. She added huge to these trips, just by her company. To shore in the dinghy first thing in the morning and again before dark. She was wonderful to have with us.
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Old 12-01-2021, 09:46 PM   #4
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When I Looped in 2017, saw a lot of couples with dog(s) and a few solo with a dog. It's certainly not that unusual. My best advice is to plan in advance. Most anywhere you go there is some place to walk the dog. Proper prior planning makes life a lot easier. Some anchorages are more walk friendly than others. Saw a guy and his pooch wearing a lot of mud from a river bank walk, no other choice. Active Captain often has reviews which include pooch facilities. When arranging dockage it's a good idea to ask where the walk area is, to avoid accidents.

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Old 12-01-2021, 09:48 PM   #5
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Since you have the opportunity to train a new dog I would simply add that getting him/her on board early and young must be a benefit. My two dogs were adopted as adults and although we cruise with them both they are not totally happy on board. I imagine if they had been raised on board that would be different.

90% of the time I love having my dogs on board. 10% of the time it is pouring with rain, we are anchored at a distance from a landing, and they need to go ashore (because they were not raised on board I could never get them to 'go' on a mat).

Good luck!
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Old 12-01-2021, 09:57 PM   #6
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We don’t cruise full time but our dog loves going on the boat. He is a 90 pound black lab so we don’t try lifting him in and out. But he will learn anything we spend a half hour teaching him, how to get on and off the boat, etc. He wears his PFD and likes it because he gets a treat when he puts it on. It has 2 handles so we could pick him up out of the water if needed but it has never been needed. We taught him how to go on astro turf when he was little. He would rather go onshore but will go on the turf if we need him to. The upside is immeasurable, he gives love unconditionally and is very entertaining. It is definitely worth the “extra “ trouble.
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Old 12-01-2021, 10:43 PM   #7
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Start with a puppy and train him/her to do it on a potty pad on shore. Then tie a square of outdoor carpet to the bow and get him/her to do it there. Then all you have to do is periodically point to the bow and say “go potty”. Life is all good after that.

Once we were beating to windward in 25 kts of wind on our sailboat. My wife told me to go below and check on Tiffany as we always put her below in those conditions and she was worried about how Tiffany was doing in those rough conditions.

So I stuck my head through the hatch and saw that Tiffany was wedged in the back corner of the galley snoozing away without a care in the world.

Such is life on board with your dog when all is well.

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Old 12-01-2021, 11:29 PM   #8
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Yep - we had a severe thunderstorm at the marina last year. I was worried about lightning frying the electronics, the wind tearing away the canvas, the strain on the mooring lines - but Pearl was snoring in the master berth. Not all dogs are boat dogs but if you find one, they're great crew.
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Old 12-02-2021, 10:48 AM   #9
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Start with a puppy and train him/her to do it on a potty pad on shore. Then tie a square of outdoor carpet to the bow and get him/her to do it there. Then all you have to do is periodically point to the bow and say “go potty”.

Or put the "fake grass" on the swim platform--you can move it, hose it, etc.



Some days first thing in the morning and last thing at night it is dark, rainy, cold, foggy, etc and taking the dinghy to shore is not high on the things you want to do list.
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Old 12-02-2021, 11:17 AM   #10
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Some days first thing in the morning and last thing at night it is dark, rainy, cold, foggy, etc and taking the dinghy to shore is not high on the things you want to do list.
Yep, our first dog was about 10 years old when we started cruising full time and there was no hope of training her to do it on a pad or square of carpet. So we did have to take her to shore twice a day. That was a little tough in the Bahamas where the shore was rugged coral. So she sniffed around a bit and finally resigned herself to do it on the rocks with no grass in sight.

We did one long overnight from Cape May to Sandy Hook and she held it for a bit more than 24 hours. Our vet said not to worry, when they have to go they will go.

Another time we were anchored on the south end of the Alligator Pungo canal in NC. I went ashore with her and had a tough time finding a patch of dry land and when I finally found a place I had to keep a sharp look out for gators.

But I wouldn't hesitate to take an untrained dog on a similar trip again. But it is a lot easier if they can do it on the boat.

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Old 12-02-2021, 12:48 PM   #11
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Due to the limited time I have before leaving I feel the 2 year old will be a better fit. I will do as much training as I can but the boat is on the hard until just before I set off. She will certainly be a work in progress. I am a life long boater and dog owner but the only boat dog I had was when I was very young. Honestly my wife who is not coming with me is the only detractor and wanted other cruisers opinions most likely if negative to use against me getting another dog. I do love a good challenge.
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Old 12-02-2021, 12:57 PM   #12
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Or put the "fake grass" on the swim platform--you can move it, hose it, etc.

Some days first thing in the morning and last thing at night it is dark, rainy, cold, foggy, etc and taking the dinghy to shore is not high on the things you want to do list.
We have a piece of "Astroturf" zip-tied at one end to a rubber tub lid. Our dog uses it in the cockpit, and we dump and rinse overboard. Been doing this since she was a pup, maybe 40% of the time with me solo. She doesn't get in as much walking as she would like when we're cruising/anchoring in remote areas (most of the summer), but on the whole it works well.

Our other dog has spent only 2-3 weeks on the boat so far, and seems to have a grand time. But at age four has yet to get comfortable using the pee-pad. We need to get this working!
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Old 12-02-2021, 04:49 PM   #13
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I mostly solo with a black lab. When anchored, I have a setup that allows her to get back aboard via the swim platform. I've had a series of black labs, none were a problem. I operate in a cold climate so want a dog unaffected by cold. I find a dog less trouble than most people.
All my dogs were allowed independence when it doesn't effect other people. Some would swim ashore, do their business and swim back. In Alaska, sometimes a bear would encourage their swift return, but never a problem.
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Old 12-02-2021, 07:32 PM   #14
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All of the above, plus added protection. Had someone try to get on the boat one night while anchored out. The dog scared them off. Bad guys may want to steal from and harm you, but they certainly don't want to deal with a dog to do it. Plus they are a social magnet.
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Old 12-03-2021, 06:53 AM   #15
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A pottie trained dog is a delight , otherwise you become a dog slave.

Start with a young easier to train dog .

Swimming to shore is not practical in alligator country.
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Old 12-05-2021, 04:33 AM   #16
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A pottie trained dog is a delight , otherwise you become a dog slave.

Start with a young easier to train dog .

Swimming to shore is not practical in alligator country.
That pretty much sums up the issues of cruising with dogs. Unless your dog will crap on the boat, dogs will dominate every cruising decision. And consider the comfort of the animal. Forcing a dog to hold his water through a long cruising day seems cruel to me. Think about the times you had to go and had to "hold it", painfully so sometimes. Animals are no different.
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Old 12-06-2021, 01:45 PM   #17
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Litter Training for your fur doggie babies

We litter train our dogs. Yep, there is dog litter; it much different than cat litter. We never have to dinghy to shore. Our dogs can do their duty whenever the need arises on the boat or on land. When at home, they use the dog litter box too. Here's a link to dog litter: https://www.chewy.com/secondnature-dog-litter/dp/120530
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Old 12-06-2021, 01:53 PM   #18
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Need to consider where you'll be cruising if you bring a dog.

A small dog taken ashore to do its business near the water in FL can become something's lunch. Similar things can happen in AK.

My dog is a homebody. Doesn't like riding in the car and he doesn't care to be on the boat even when it's on the trailer in the driveway.
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Old 12-06-2021, 06:26 PM   #19
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ďThe more Iím around people Ö the more I like my dog.Ē
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Old 12-06-2021, 06:48 PM   #20
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We cruised full time many years, including a trans-Atlantic crossing and 3 Panama Canal transits with labs aboard. Square of astroturf, with grommets in at least 2 corners, to dip overboard, and bring back on the deck.

Do not expect dog to "go" in cockpit or any living area--they need to go on deck. As we have aged, with some rescue dogs, of smaller size, we have had miniature poodles for the last 12 years. Number one advantage is they don't shed. They are small enough to be carried if necessary, and are intelligent--easy to potty train, and love to swim, can be taught to climb ladders.

Teach the dog to "go" aboard--don't be a slave to the dog.
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