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Old 10-12-2015, 23:47   #1
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Introducing a young dog to sailing

Hello all,

The newest member of the family is an 8 week old Golden Retriever / Poodle cross. Called a Groodle by some, a Golden Doodle by others, and abomination by many.

We call her Amelia (after the brilliant female aviator of the same name).

We would like to introduce her to sailing, and I am curious to know what people have found to be the best technique and age to start.

The boat has plenty of deck space, and a well contained after deck that is slightly raised. I assume this will be the best place for her to sit. I am also assuming she will be wearing a life jacket and we'll have a few games of "retrieving the dog from the water" on warm days before we try a sailing as per some great suggestions I have read in other threads.

So far she seems utterly un-worried by anything or anyone around her, so I am not expecting her to be very stressed, particularly if we choose our weather, but what would you do to make the introduction to sailing relaxing and likely to succeed if it were your dog?

Matt
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Old 11-12-2015, 00:11   #2
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

Get her a nice cedar filled dog bed that will be her place below. If it's the kind in a basket, then sew or glue non-skid to the basket. Put it low on the cabin sole where it will be most stable, and hopefullly where you least mind dog hair, because it (like human hair) is a great clogger of bilge pumps. Give her a pat from me.

Enjoy.
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Old 11-12-2015, 00:13   #3
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

Ann, are you suggesting we start off sailing with her below decks?
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Old 11-12-2015, 00:14   #4
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

P.S. She says thanks for the pat.
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Old 11-12-2015, 11:10   #5
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

I have a 8 yr old Golden Doodle who loves getting out on the boat. Start out with short trips and give lots of praise and most importantly be calm yourself, as the dog feeds off of you. The dog will be just fine. By the way, a great choice in a dog. My dog Tater is the best dog I have ever owned (I have had many). Absolutely the smartest and easiest to train I've come across. Great boat companion. No wet dog smell, or shedding too.
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Old 11-12-2015, 11:34   #6
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

Perhaps a tale from an old salt might help... we had ducked into Fort Bragg(Noyo River) just below Eureka to avoid some heavy seas off Cape Mendocino and had the pleasure of meeting a couple on a Noordhaven 55 on their way back home from a trip to Alaska.
They had strung netting completely around their vessel from bow to stern. I inquired how many youngsters they had aboard and they replied, "none. But we do have a young golden retriever who made the trip from Dana Point all the way up the inside passage to Anchorage and back over a year and a half".
Evidently, the young pup would stand out on the bow and watch the Dolphins as they played around in the bow wave. Finally, the excitement became too much and she jumped in to play with them. The play time lasted about an hour and the pup, who was an excellent swimmer, began to tire. The Dolphins swarmed around her squealing sensing she was in trouble and were trying to help her out. The skipper was worried about backing down on the dog so she could get back aboard on the swim grid. He finally positioned the boat so she could paddle over to the grid but it was too slippery for her to climb aboard in her weakened state. His wife went over the side to help the pup aboard getting scratched quite badly in the process from the dogs claws.
Lessons learned from the adventure which ended well was to have secure netting around the vessel to keep the dog/kids inboard at all times and get an old piece of carpet to hang over a power boat swim grid to give an animal that does go overboard some purchase to get back on board.
Cheers, Phil
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Old 11-12-2015, 11:36   #7
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

I would start her off right away, just like anything she's introduced to as a puppy (especially with rewards for being relaxed and exhibiting desired behavior) she will be completely comfortable with it as an adult.

My dog was 3 when we bought our boat so although he's been great, I still can't get him to use the bathroom on the boat so that's been a bit of a pain in the ass. I would do some reading and make sure you get her used to using the boat as a bathroom early on (preferably on a mat you can dunk in the water to rinse) and it will make your life way easier later on!

In addition to the life jacket I'd use a harness and attach it to a line so she can't go overboard while underway.

Good luck!
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Old 11-12-2015, 11:56   #8
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

My dog always came sailing with me.

She preferred to sleep below while we were underway. I felt this was much safer for her too. She would find a safe spot, curl up, and nap until we got someplace. She would be very excited when we would come up to a dock, and would often be the first one off the boat...leaping across, then tearing up the dock to find some grass to pee before coming straight back.

If we anchored, I would row her ashore at least 3 times a day...what a bother.

Basically, I just brought her with me whenever I went to the boat. She bacame accustomed to getting on and off, going up and down the campanionway, and knew where was good sleep. I had a 12volt fan which blew on her (face) when it was hot.

She never had any complaints, and never tried to go overboard. She absolutely loved the places we visited...islands where she could run free and hunt mice, as well as american towns where dogs run free ....no leash laws... often a whole pack of dogs would come down to see her at the dock, and she would disappear with them for an hour, all of them running at full speed through the town...dog fun.

Sometimes I would have her swim behind the dinghy to get a "long run", as there wasn't much space on board.

I think my dog enjoyed being with me on the boat as much as I enjoyed having her aboard. She lived 11 years and 11 months. I miss her every day.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:11   #9
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

Here's my contribution: an article I did on dogs and boats for the Waterway Guide Magazine. I've had four shelties and all did their business on the bow of the boat. You have to be very patient, calm and determined. We also had netting on the sailboat and kept the dog(s) in the cockpit or below if the weather was bad.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:34   #10
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

Matt,

If you teach her to "do her business" on command, it will help matters a lot. If you don't already have one, I suggest a book on clicker training. My son's lady friend is a dog trainer, with a good international reputation, but I don't think she's published in Oz.

Not suggesting she start out below, but that she have a dedicated spot to go sleep (she's only a puppy), that satisfies hers and your requirements for security.

Ann
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Old 11-12-2015, 14:24   #11
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

Thank you all, a pretty reassuring set of responses. It sounds like I am overthinking things as usual. It appears that Amelia will just adapt to wherever her "pack" go from these experiences.

Point taken about toilet training, the description of the cold wet sailor rowing a dog ashore to a tick infested swamp had us both laughing.

I have read remarks that dogs don't like it when the boat leans because they have difficulty keeping traction on the deck. If anyone has found a solution to this I would be keen to hear about it. I wondered if some kind of trampoline style bed on the after deck would provide enough of a self levelling platform that would allow the dog to rest comfortably when under way? Although I like the idea of a bed below decks under way after dark, after a week with the dog I feel she'd rather be closer to us during the day, she will always come back to rest at our feet after she has finished playing the yard.


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Old 11-12-2015, 14:31   #12
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamburking View Post
My dog always came sailing with me.

She preferred to sleep below while we were underway. I felt this was much safer for her too. She would find a safe spot, curl up, and nap until we got someplace. She would be very excited when we would come up to a dock, and would often be the first one off the boat...leaping across, then tearing up the dock to find some grass to pee before coming straight back.

If we anchored, I would row her ashore at least 3 times a day...what a bother.

Basically, I just brought her with me whenever I went to the boat. She bacame accustomed to getting on and off, going up and down the campanionway, and knew where was good sleep. I had a 12volt fan which blew on her (face) when it was hot.

She never had any complaints, and never tried to go overboard. She absolutely loved the places we visited...islands where she could run free and hunt mice, as well as american towns where dogs run free ....no leash laws... often a whole pack of dogs would come down to see her at the dock, and she would disappear with them for an hour, all of them running at full speed through the town...dog fun.

Sometimes I would have her swim behind the dinghy to get a "long run", as there wasn't much space on board.

I think my dog enjoyed being with me on the boat as much as I enjoyed having her aboard. She lived 11 years and 11 months. I miss her every day.
Great story...my first "boat dog", a female Chow Chow, would walk slowly in the tidal flats at low tide with just her nose under water, [blowing little bubbles to keep the water out] hunting for small crabs. I always knew when seals, or Orcas were around just by noticing her staring over the stern and whimpering.

I am convinced you are correct that dogs experience the same pleasure we do in hanging out together. My dog is always with me, 24/7 until that horrible day comes when they leave this life...
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Old 11-12-2015, 14:45   #13
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt Phil View Post
Perhaps a tale from an old salt might help... we had ducked into Fort Bragg(Noyo River) just below Eureka to avoid some heavy seas off Cape Mendocino and had the pleasure of meeting a couple on a Noordhaven 55 on their way back home from a trip to Alaska.
They had strung netting completely around their vessel from bow to stern. I inquired how many youngsters they had aboard and they replied, "none. But we do have a young golden retriever who made the trip from Dana Point all the way up the inside passage to Anchorage and back over a year and a half".
Evidently, the young pup would stand out on the bow and watch the Dolphins as they played around in the bow wave. Finally, the excitement became too much and she jumped in to play with them. The play time lasted about an hour and the pup, who was an excellent swimmer, began to tire. The Dolphins swarmed around her squealing sensing she was in trouble and were trying to help her out. The skipper was worried about backing down on the dog so she could get back aboard on the swim grid. He finally positioned the boat so she could paddle over to the grid but it was too slippery for her to climb aboard in her weakened state. His wife went over the side to help the pup aboard getting scratched quite badly in the process from the dogs claws.
Lessons learned from the adventure which ended well was to have secure netting around the vessel to keep the dog/kids inboard at all times and get an old piece of carpet to hang over a power boat swim grid to give an animal that does go overboard some purchase to get back on board.
Cheers, Phil
Phil, netting definitely works for dogs, and believe it or not, it will even keep a winch handle from going over the side! However, I have often wondered if it would be a liability in really heavy seas.
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Old 11-12-2015, 14:50   #14
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

I also have a Golden Doodle, but mine is a miniature, 31 lbs. Her name is "Sailor" and she loves it, i.e. being on the sailboat. Stays below when under sail, but on deck when motoring or anchored or moored. Couldn't agree more on how smart they are, but could never get her to do her business on the boat, so I have to dingy her ashore morning and night when we are traveling. Great companion. She was chosen because of her weight and knowing we were going to have to haul her back and forth in the dingy. Don't know how a standard doodle can be loaded off a boat unless you have low freeboard and they can jump in a dingy.
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Old 11-12-2015, 14:58   #15
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Re: Introducing a young dog to sailing

Not much to training a pup ;-0)! Lotsa love and good kibble will do it. My breed is the Old English Mastiff. My last bitch weighed about 220 lbs, so a little cumbersome in a thirty foot boat.

You cash in on the fact that a pup's greatest desire is to please his master, so praise and smooches are the order of the day. Any voluntary or inadvertent action or activity that conforms to master's requirements gets rewarded with a tidbit and a smooch. Now with an OEM, a "tidbit" means the WHOLE hotdog! Any action or activity that is unwanted gets ignored - unless there is an element of danger to the pup or other creatures, of course. Then puppy gets gently but firmly physically constrained while you transfer his attention to something other than what he was doing.

This is pretty standard stuff, but worth repeating: Puppy WANTS you to be "alpha", for there is security in that. If master doesn't have a strong "command presence" puppy will try to be "alpha" even though he knows that he isn't ready for it, for in doggy-land, a "pack" HAS to have an "alpha" even if the poor unfortunate thing is hairless and bipedal! Some of you will know the old RN adage that the surest way to destroy a man is to promote him before he is ready for it. Same with pups!

Other standard stuff: NEVER, never raise your voice to a puppy, cos in doggy-speak a raised voice means " HEY - I wanna play", and before you know, things get out of hand. Particularly dangerous for the puppy if there is traffic about. And in boats. Never, NEVER scold a dog harshly, let alone hit him. That will only engender neurosis and enmity. And you don't want a 220 lb OEM to be your enemy! However, the word "NO" is very useful, but in doggy-land it has a different, very specific meaning. Pronounced very loudly in a sharp, barking voice it means "FREEZE". When the3 dog hears it, he will freeze by instinct long enough for you to get hold of him and divert him. "No" is a "reserved word" used only for that purpose. As a general rule master must have two distinct voices differentiated by their timbre: the smoochy praising voice and the "command" voice.

One of my standard ploys to get the bonding happening is to get on all fours and do the sniffing thing — with discernment, of course :-) — while I very gently mutter "I HATE dogs!", "I'm gonna kick your butt in!" and other such endearments. Remember: Pups are seriously deficient in English. It's the smoochy tone of voice that does the trick.

Each of us has a personal style developed from interaction with sundry dogs, all with different individual personalities that need to be accommodated. It really isn't all that different from dragging up kids, except for the limitations of vocabulary and the fact that the various development stages — shift from instinctual to cognitive behaviours, development of rebelliousness to "test Dad", and all the other stuff — happens on a compressed time scale, and if you are not there to do the right "parental" thing when the stage clicks in, the mature dog's behaviour is going to show evidence of these "missed" stages.

So take you pup to bed with you. And give him a smooch from me ;-)!

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