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Old 13-10-2014, 06:31   #1
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Dogs Below Deck

I'm in the search phase for a boat. One concern I have is how to get my dog (90 pounds) below deck. Beneteaus seem to have a companionway that my dog could maneuver, but most boats have step steps that resemble more of a ladder than steps.

Has anyone modified their companionway or built a ramp for their dog to use?
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Old 13-10-2014, 06:50   #2
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

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Originally Posted by wswhiting View Post
I'm in the search phase for a boat. One concern I have is how to get my dog (90 pounds) below deck. Beneteaus seem to have a companionway that my dog could maneuver, but most boats have step steps that resemble more of a ladder than steps.

Has anyone modified their companionway or built a ramp for their dog to use?
Hi wswhiting!

It happens we have several dogs. So small as Chihuahuas Long Coat (4-5 pounds each) and so big as Black Russian Terrier (125 pounds).
On our boat the companionway is definitely steeper than on most od Benes, but admittely not so steep as to be real ladder (found on some older boats).
When You look from upper side, You can see about three inches of the lower step, the rest is hidden under the higher one. No one of our dogs has a problem with the companionway, but they got some time to get used to.
My advice is as follow: look around the place where You do live. Probably You can find the place made purposefully for dogs' recreation. Hopefully it will be even the place with all bars and obstacles for agility training.
You need to spend several days there (not more than two-three hours each time) with a lot od dog's snacks
When Your dog got trained to penetrate the different obstacles, the companionway would be not problem for him, just introduce him to the "ladder" the same way, with a lot of yummy incentive. The situation and the environment would be new to him, so You would need some patience.
One thing You would need for the companionway, to be adapted to dogs needs is good antislip on the steps. There is a good thread somewhere on CF, several months old, devoted to the companionway steps antislip. Just search for it

Cheers,

Tomasz
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Old 13-10-2014, 07:17   #3
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

I don't know your size or price range but we looked at a Catalina-Morgan (I think the 440 DS) and the step into the cabin from the cockpit was only about a foot.

Loved the boat but we couldn't afford it.

Rich
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Old 13-10-2014, 07:24   #4
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

Place one of these near the companionway?

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Old 22-10-2014, 08:38   #5
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

On our Catalina 34, our large dogs for four years have had no problems either springing up the stairs (11 yr old Golden Retriever does) or climbing until recently our older yellow lab with cancer on his chest has to be carried up the stairs. We have a ramp for the car and have contemplate bringing that on the boat. It is so bulky though.
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Old 22-10-2014, 09:33   #6
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

We had the same issue with our German Shepherd on an O'Day 40 with 4 steps. I made a basic gangway plank from a 1"x8" about 6ft long, covered it in outdoor carpet with some rubber treads spaced out and place it on the second from bottom step. She has no problem making it up and down the top two steps with the aid of the ramp up or down. It stows away vertically between the mast and a bulkhead out of the way. There could be a Jeff Foxworthy "you might be a red neck" joke in there, but it works.
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Old 22-10-2014, 09:54   #7
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

4 words... Cat a mar an ...
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Old 22-10-2014, 11:53   #8
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

Remedy get what we call our dog.... (little poop dog) 6.5 lbs. Pad trained been on the boat since puppy.

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Old 22-10-2014, 12:30   #9
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

The dog thing definitely played into our purchase of our Catalina 310. We have steps to get below and a walk through transom. I wouldn't want to deal with the hoisting the dog think like in the photo above but many do.

The Monkey Fist has a good series of posts on cruising with dogs.

Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any specific questions.

Good luck and fair winds,

Jesse
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Old 22-10-2014, 12:44   #10
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

If one has a 1/4 berth I've wondered if it would work to put a port in the cockpit footwell side for a dog to get below... but a big dog... probably wont work...
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Old 22-10-2014, 13:27   #11
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

ws-
Dogs can be trained to go up and down ladders, you can see clips on this from various SAR and military groups. Problem being that even if you train the dog to do it, they can get tossed off, or as they get old, many dogs have hip problems and they aren't so nimble. I think you might be best off with some type of "plank" they could use as a ramp. Narrow enough for people to get past, wide enough for a dog to walk. (And again, they need to be trained to use it, if they're afraid of it.)

Dogs, owners, boats, each will be a bit different, yes?
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Old 24-10-2014, 06:03   #12
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

Here is a recent video of our golden retriever emerging from the cabin. She uses the bottom step as her launching point and explodes out the hatch. Don't get in her way.

But she does walk down the steps fine like a normal dog. She leaps this way in the large SUV as well. I wish that I could leap like she can.
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Old 24-10-2014, 09:53   #13
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

We've got a 75lb American Staffordshire Terrier. She learns really fast. She gets nervous when she goes up or down (our ladder is steep and it's probably a 4' drop). She's 7 though, so I'm worried about long term.

One thing you should consider is putting something padded down at the bottom of the stairs. Landing at the bottom of the stairs is hard on your joints, and it's hard on a dogs joints as well. We've got a 3-4' runner with a anti-fatigue pad under it, so when our dog jumps down that softens the blow, and I'm sure it helps our joints too.

We considered making the stairs stick out more farther down, but I was afraid it would end up being a shin buster. A ramp would be tedious and tough to store.
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:31   #14
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

While living aboard at a dock it is very easy to have a dog but when you go cruising you may find yourself rowing out in the evening dusk in chop and cold to get the dog to the one piece of closest Land (usually a rock) coaxing the dog to get out of the boat and do it's business and then returning to the boat where it is rocking and you have to get the dog to get into the big boat. You are all warm and cozy and then have to take care of that! We have cruised with 3 dogs (and two kids) and now the local islands have signs saying NO DOGS so it is absolutely no fun at all to cruise with our dogs now. We board them for the short run and our family covers on the long trips. Dogs are great companions, but I don't think you really want to cruise with one of them. We finally bought a boat we really love that will absolutely not accommodate a pitbull and a chihuahua. The worst trip was when we were on our Defever powerboat and the pitbull decided she had to go in the main salon in the middle of the rocky night. We woke up with the entire salon floor awash in pee. Now we are back to sail and have decided no dogs and it's a whole different ball game..so much easier. Sometimes you have to be realistic, how fun is it for that dog anyway, she'd much rather be chasing squirrels in the back yard I think.
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:56   #15
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Re: Dogs Below Deck

maybe, if you can afford one!
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