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Old 12-07-2015, 09:51   #1
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Advice for new dog on boat

We just adopted a new rescue - we were looking for a small dog that would be easy to get in and out of the dinghy. Our last dog loved the boat - any boat.

Well, China is all of 4 pounds and come with a lot of issues I've never dealt with before. She's some kind of terrier mix - and somewhere between 3-5 years.
She must have had a pretty crappy life before now by the way she's acting. Very anxious, very submissive and won't let me out of her sight.

But to the real issue. Has anyone any experience of re-training a "new" dog to Potty pads on the boat. I've tried indoor-outdoor carpeting, potty pads, everything. She's held it in for up to 14 hours, obviously in agony. I've tried to communicate to her that it's a good thing to "go" in this spot here. I'd appreciate anyone's guidance as we're about to set out in Aug and will be days at sea before landing anywhere. I'd like to get her into the groove before then. As I said she's probably been abused at some point so harsh words are not going to be the answer.

I've had 4 dogs previous to this and have always been successful at training, this is something new (and humbling) for me. Thanks all.
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Old 12-07-2015, 09:58   #2
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Re: Advice for new dog on boat

I've never had to train a dog on a boat, only pups on land, but in this situation with an already "adult" dog I'd even stoop (crouch, more likely) to a demonstration. In a suitably private anchorage/miles out at sea, and dimly lit time early in the day, having carefully scouted the surroundings, perhaps even putting up temporary screens.
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Old 12-07-2015, 10:08   #3
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Re: Advice for new dog on boat

It's notably tough to train some. I wonder if collecting some of her feces and placing it on the indoor/outdoor carpet would encourage her?
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Old 24-08-2015, 06:09   #4
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Re: Advice for new dog on boat

Have you tried using the pads at home so they are familiar to her?


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Old 24-08-2015, 06:44   #5
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Re: Advice for new dog on boat

Take the pads ashore and see if you can slip one under her when she goes. Perhaps even resort to putting that "used" pad on the deck so that she is attracted to her own scent.
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Old 24-08-2015, 07:17   #6
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Re: Advice for new dog on boat

We also have a rescue on the boat, who we got when he was 2. I'm happy to report that 10,000 miles later, he's doing fine with his mat, but he'll still hold it for quite a long time before resorting to it.

We did it in 2 stages.

First, I bought a piece of sod and stuck it on a tarp in the cockpit. I brought it with us for a walk on shore and then stuck it under him while he was peeing, just to get the smell right.

Once he'd gone on the sod a couple of times on the boat, we tossed that overboard and switched to the astroturf. He's never been really comfortable with it, but we have done offshore passages of up to 9 days and he does use it when he has to. It seems like after he's had access to shore for a few months he sort of has to re-learn again, but it's not as difficult as the first time.

So, that's what worked for us, but every mutt's different. I'd definitely try a piece of sod first, though. That seemed to be a good way to go.

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Old 24-08-2015, 10:35   #7
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Re: Advice for new dog on boat

We are living aboard full time so the boat is her home. I'm certain that most of the problem is me. I am not willing to see her in discomfort while she makes up her mind to use the pad. In the month or so since my original posting she has used the pads twice both times when I was unaware she had to go, (off sched or something). We have one in the forward area and one in the separate aft area where we sleep. After each "emergency" use she went back to holding, pacing, panting, begging, etc.

I know the problem is me, just have to harden my heart. I did take one of her leavings in a baggie and put it on the pad; didn't convince her at all.

I will keep trying. Thanks all.
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Old 24-08-2015, 14:05   #8
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Re: Advice for new dog on boat

My elder son's girlfriend is a professional dog trainer. She works with all kinds of hard cases including rescue dogs of various types. If you'd like some input from her, PM me, with an e-mail address for you, and I'll do my best to get her in touch with you.

It IS encouraging that the dog is using the pads when you're inattentive. Maybe she isn't suffering as deeply as you fear? Maybe you can relax a little about it? ...If it were me, I'd put the poop on the pad without the ziplock, but in a corner of the cockpit, or on the afterdeck, assuming she can get out from below deck without assistance.

Good luck with it to both of you.

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Old 25-08-2015, 05:29   #9
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Re: Advice for new dog on boat

I put a small carpet door mat down in the cockpit. They wouldn't use it at first (2 dogs one big one middle sized) I finally peed on it in front of them when I knew they had to go. No problems now at all.
Installed a grommet in each corner of the mat, when they are done I just tie a line to it and toss it overboard for a while, goes back in the cockpit locker until next time.
For a while I actually thought the big male was going to try and use the head! He could smell it, kept lining himself up looking like he was going to pee all over it!
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