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Old 18-01-2016, 10:18   #1
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Large(ish) dog on a boat - the cabin

We cannot purchase a boat until Aug / Sept this year (fingers crossed) so I am just trying to answer questions that have arisen as we re-search different boats.

This biggest issue is our dog. He is 7 and 60ish lbs. We need to get him in an out of the cabin easily and safely. There is a lot of info about getting a dog into a dinghy, but the cabin, no so much!

Most of the boats we have looked at have longish ladders for cabin entry. These are heavy displacement blue water cruisers as meets our long term needs. Models are too numerous to list.

Anyway, does any one have any suggestions for getting the dog into and out of the cabin? We are hoping for, and looking for, a solution that will give him the most autonomy. We believe he will be happier if he can chose where he wants to be and when.

There are a few boats with decent cabin access via steps. These won't be a problem for him. Examples are the CSY boats and the Hans Christian 38.

The problem of course is that we won't know what is actually out there until we can buy. Still, coming up with a workable solution, or theory, should open our choices a little wider at the time of purchase.
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Old 25-01-2016, 00:31   #2
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Re: Large(ish) dog on a boat - the cabin

Well, if you're concerned about him going from cockpit to dock, you could always go for an old fashioned gangplank/"boat boarding ramp" for the easiest access. Of course it may slide around on the dock's surface. Also if you get a long one it might become a hazard at times.

If it's more about him braving the companionway, you could setup a removable ramp with carpet or some kind of other nonskid surface that might extend down into your kitchen area depending on what type of boat you get.

I definitely see a big risk for your pup getting injured while trying to move between the cabin and the cockpit under not-so-fair conditions, especially at-sea. As far as I know, the cockpit would be a tight place for a medium to large size pup and you wouldn't want him or her to cause mayhem by accidentally plowing into your autopilot/tiller/anything else you can think of while you aren't looking.

I would probably be most concerned about losing him overboard without noticing because of a nap or some other minor distraction. It could easily happen if he can go outside whenever he wants.

Not to mention what he might try to pull during a brief moment of silliness when he sees a dolphin, fish, fin or strange looking swell that makes him want to investigate a little closer...

Can't think of options other then just helping him up and down every time, letting him get used to the stairs or trying to install a homemade companionway ramp of some kind.

(Well, unless getting a catamaran is an option. Way more open space in one of those.)

-PK
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Old 25-01-2016, 02:06   #3
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Re: Large(ish) dog on a boat - the cabin

My dog is 9, I have to stand on the lowest step and let her climb on to me to get down, then I carry her to the settee and sit down, she gets off there. Going up I stand behind her and help her climb. Buy a tight fitting life jacket for the dog with a lifting handle on it, its the only way to get them aboard from the water if they go overboard. Outward Hound makes a very good one. Don't buy the boat for the dog, they will get used to what ever you buy.
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Old 25-01-2016, 02:17   #4
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Re: Large(ish) dog on a boat - the cabin

I had dogs on a variety of boats. Young dogs usually will learn to traverse steep stairs.
If not, either build stairs similar to those used in houses or a wide plank with small cleats cross ways for traction. To get him aboard w/o a boarding ladder, a series of boxes he can jump. Just keep an eye on him as he ages. On my boat I have a swim platform and put a plank to the dock.
If you have money to spend, some people have custom aluminum ramps and stairs that break down for stowage.
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Old 25-01-2016, 13:29   #5
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Re: Large(ish) dog on a boat - the cabin

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea Dreaming View Post
We cannot purchase a boat until Aug / Sept this year (fingers crossed) so I am just trying to answer questions that have arisen as we re-search different boats.

This biggest issue is our dog. He is 7 and 60ish lbs. We need to get him in an out of the cabin easily and safely. There is a lot of info about getting a dog into a dinghy, but the cabin, no so much! Sorry I don't have the link, but there is another thread going on now, about a Rhodesian Ridgeback with boat fears, and someone there posted a link for the non-skid booties you can get to help the dog with traction. It also discusses means of positive reinforcement in accustoming the dog to the boat.

Most of the boats we have looked at have longish ladders for cabin entry. These are heavy displacement blue water cruisers as meets our long term needs. Models are too numerous to list. You can, using positive reinforcement, teach a dog to climb a ladder: I taught two of them, and for descent, they picked when they'd jump the rest of the way. However, this would only be safe at anchor. I think you need to think in terms of a passerelle with cleats, that has sides that hinge up to form a companionway with sides that will contain the dog when the boat lurches in a seaway. Also, you might want to re-think the dog having the run of the boat. As was mentioned above, there may be times when you want him in his travel cage for his safety, and I'd make that his bed, too.

Anyway, does any one have any suggestions for getting the dog into and out of the cabin? We are hoping for, and looking for, a solution that will give him the most autonomy. We believe he will be happier if he can chose where he wants to be and when. Actually, no, it is your job as head of the pack to decide where he should be and when, you're the skipper, and you must make the decisions for his well being the same as if he were crew. He may require your help for both getting into the cabin safely and getting out.

There are a few boats with decent cabin access via steps. These won't be a problem for him. Examples are the CSY boats and the Hans Christian 38. This would be true at anchor most places, but when the boat is heeled, or if the motion is jerky, he can't grab the hand hold. You may have to assist under those condition.

The problem of course is that we won't know what is actually out there until we can buy. Still, coming up with a workable solution, or theory, should open our choices a little wider at the time of purchase.
If you do a CF Google Search on "Passerelles", there is a thread that shows pictures of a number of differet styles, homemade and professionally built. People who carry one, usually figure out deck storage for them.

Ann

P.S. I have tried to write if this all is doable, but I must confess, if things turned pear shaped, I could not make a struggling 60 lb. dog safe in transit in a lurchy seaway. Not strong enough or well enough coordinated. It might be kinder to the dog in the long run to not force him to it.
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