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Old 27-10-2010, 03:37   #1
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German Shepherd on 25-Footer ?

we've got a cute GSD puppy. He's small now but we know he's gonna be really big dog. Our boat is Tomahawk 25 - rather small boat, with really steep companionway. Now, we would really like to sail around Scotland, which probably means passages sometimes longer than 24h and quite rough seas. Of course we don't want to sail out straight away. First we would get used our puppy to sailing gradually. But we're wondering if it's good idea at all. Our main concerns are:
1. isn't 25 footer too small for a German Shepherd?
2. will he manage to go up and down the companionway?
3. how will he do his business?
4. how will he cope with heeling?
5. GSD needs a lot of exercise so he'd probably freaked out during long passages.
I know people are sailng with big dogs, but is it possible on such small boat? And I know sailing with dog for few hours is doable, but what with longer passages? Thanks

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Old 27-10-2010, 04:45   #2
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grown up with this cool dogs - cant have one now even if I y would like, the reason is I do not have space nor the right location for a dog - so no dog

1. isn't 25 footer too small for a German Shepherd? YES
2. will he manage to go up and down the companionway? Maybe, but for sure he will not get old -> read literature about German Shepards and typical health problems (CHD)
3. how will he do his business? Most people train them on a place one deck and wash the "stuff" in the sea - on a 25 footer??
4. how will he cope with heeling? My old dog loved water, boats and even surfboards - guess this depends only on the dog and the training
5. GSD needs a lot of exercise so he'd probably freaked out during long passages. I assume he will start to freak out after a 4-5h long passage

My private opinion, get a bigger boat or train the dog to stay with some friends if you go sailing.


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Old 27-10-2010, 05:18   #3
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I think its really cruel.
I don't own dogs - never have - but often see big dogs on boats and I have always felt it cruel.
The worst was a big big dog wearing a nappy.

I can understand why lots of folks will want to defend their reasons for having their pets aboard... and thats fine, but I'm just mentioning how I feel when I see it.

PS I have a stuffed duck and a stuffed Sea Lion.
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Old 27-10-2010, 06:49   #4
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We have a 23 foot Edel, a Dutch Shepherd and a Black Lab, and take our dogs for DAY sails regularly.

1. isn't 25 footer too small for a German Shepherd? For short day trips not a problem
2. will he manage to go up and down the companionway? My Dogs manage just fine, but as they get older I expect them not to be nearly as agile as they are now.
3. how will he do his business? My lab will bark when he needs to go, so we head for shore, once he can see it he jumps off and swims for it, the Shepherd she is to much of a princess for that, she will hold it until we carry her to land. We only do day trips 4-6 hours max so they go before and after when we get back to the marina. The Lab if he can't get to shore he will go where ever he has to, I guess he figures he told us he had to go and we didn't listen.
4. how will he cope with heeling? They both handle it just fine, again as they get older I expect this to become an issue.
5. GSD needs a lot of exercise so he'd probably freaked out during long passages. Exercise is very important, I know my shepherd gets hyper and over excited when she doesn't get out for a good run, they get walked twice a day and have free run of our yard, but on a boat they will need regular trips to land, big dogs that don't get exercised enough can develop health issues because of it.

We tried a weekend away once, didn't want to kennel the dogs, it was a real challenge, on and off the boat, very restless. The boat is too small for the dogs to really do anything but lay around, for a few hours they seem to like it, going up and down the deck barking at passing boats.

My oldest will be taking the dogs if they are still around when we leave for our trip, we will have at least a 43' boat but still not a place for a large dog. Small dog maybe, they have fake grass mats you can buy that they can do their business on and little dogs don't need the same exercise as the big boys. But I personally feel the pets are best left on land where they were meant to be.

My dogs are also both wearing life vests and are tethered, we used to just do life vests until the lap jumped to catch a bird, he was rather panicked by the time we got the boat turned around and got back to him. ( he wasn't there when we practiced man overboard)
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Old 27-10-2010, 06:57   #5
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My wife and I spent 9 months cruising our 25' Pearson Ariel with our 80# lab Peter. We went down the ICW to the Bahamas, which is like night and day to what you are proposing to do.

Try spending a few weekends making short trips. That should give you a feel for things.

It was a challenge at times, but I would do it over again.

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Old 27-10-2010, 07:02   #6
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Sakura, I have to disagree with Mark on this occasion. If you have sailed for more than 24 hours around Scotland without stopping you will have missed something really special on the coast you have just passed. A fabulous part of the world and I want to go back there again once retired for the whole summer as does Viv.

We sail with 40 kgs of Labradoodle called Angus. He can quite easily decend the companion way steps when ever he likes and has once climed up them, but is too lazy normally so I have to give him a shove. He can also climed down onto a pontoon without problems but doesn't like the life lines when trying to get back on board. Around the deck, no problem, he always seems sure footed but I wish he wouldn't lie down on the solar panel just because it is nice and warm doesn't mean its his bed.

Its an interesting experience lifting him in and out of the dinghy even with a swim platform, but he knows the drill so just waits to be lifted on and off. He loves the dinghy btw because it means its time for walkies ashore.

He can hold on for at least 12 hours, so cross channel isn't a problem, but I do feel guilty for using Alderney as a poo stop each time. We have only had one accident and that was going to St Vaast, after 16 hours he had to go. Wasn't a problem and quickly washed down.

We have also taken Inky our Pug sailing. Now this is more of a problem because she would easily slip under the lifelines , she is also daft as a brush.

Whilst we have life jackets for both we prefer to keep them clipped on in the cockpit or put them downstairs if the weather is wet or cold. You need to watch coming alongside because they get excited and try to jump ashore before you are ready. Indeed Angus jumped ashore in Jersey and ran right up to the Imigration Officer before we had completed the customs declaration,

"Anything to declare or pets on board?"

"yes Officer, a big black dog thats just put muddy paw prints on your clean white shirt"

We got Angus at the same time as the yacht, so started off just walking him down the jetty and on board. Then little trips around the Solent and slowly built it up. He didn't like jetties to start with because they move, but now is fine even with thin finger pontoons.

During a couple of rough crossings we have put his dog bed (large round duvee thing) in the stern cabin and he is quite happy to go to sleep on that.

However, be warned that a large dog can reach you in bed with a wet cold nose. They wake up at Dawn and want to go and do stuff, so thats 5am in the summer

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