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Old 11-12-2015, 12:14   #16
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Re: Sailing with a dog

Dixi, a 55 lb mutt, makes sailing more fun, and helps motivate me to go to shore more often - I could be happy with a book at anchor for days. She will use the astroturf matt on the foredeck (w/ grommet, light rope and snap shackle to facilitate overboard rinsing; then clipped to the life line so it can't fall overboard). She had to be trained - we took a bit of sand she had wee wee-ed on and sprinkled it on the mat to give her the idea, then basically tough loved her til she learned the trick. It helps that she has a command for peeing even on dry land, so she knows what she is being asked. She doesn't particularly like it, but if she does as asked she gets a cookie. In really rough conditions she will refuse to go on deck, which is fine with me, and she will use the mat in the cockpit, but she has to be desperate.

In her younger days she could climb the 6 companionway steps with ease, but then again when she was younger she even climbed up vertical steps on docks. Now she needs some help. We have a "RuffWear" vest for her which has a stout handle. She now gets some assistance with the last couple steps with that handle (though if she's excited enough, like hearing dolphins, she still gets up the steps w/o help.)

I definitely recommend the RuffWear vest. She doesn't often fall off the dinghy, but the couple times she has it made it much easier to get her back on board. No risk of being scratched. She wears it when we are under way as well, though she's enough of a Chicken of the Seas that when the going gets rough, she seeks the low spots, and she's been trained that she cannot go out of the cockpit when we are under way. When it's really rough, we have a tether line from her harness to the cockpit. RuffWear doesn't have flotation, however.

On our prior boat we used netting through the lifelines, but I don't think it was sufficiently secure at the bottom to really stop a dog from going under the bottom. By the time we got the current boat she was trained enough that we didn't add netting.

I like the beanbag idea, definitely will try that, as in rougher conditions she tries to use her claws for traction which makes things worse, and the constant friction from wave action does make her "elbows" pink and irritated.
I think I'll make hers a custom one, thinking sunbrella cover and not overstuffed the way beanbags usually are, but more like a pillow. That will also help communicate to her where we want her to lie down. (Sometimes she wants to be with the helmsman when the helmsman doesn't need a dog underfoot.)

Another plus - she acts as a "human overboard alarm" - she barks incessantly when one of us goes in the water. The negative - this includes when swimming the anchor or cleaning the bottom, so skin diving is no longer much fun. But, nice to know that she'd be there to sound the alarm!

There are water bowls that don't splash / leak - also recommended.

Last advice - start out slow and make it as much fun as possible. Perhaps at anchor only and reward the dog with a new chew toy, lots of attention and praise, then build up. Dixi doesn't like all of sailing - particularly not Gulf Stream crossings - but she likes being with her humans in close quarters, she loves her birds-eye view of the galley goings on, she loves running on uninhabited Bahamian islands . . . so she puts up with the rough sailing days.
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Old 11-12-2015, 12:44   #17
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Re: Sailing with a dog

In my mind, no objective answers. Just what works for you.

After coastal cruising for a few years with my 70lb husky-like dog, I made the difficult decision to leave him with family for a year or two while in the caribbean.

I think I made the right decision given my situation, but that decision could have been different in another context.. Small boat, short-handed crew, the demands of keeping a large hunting dog happy at sea, finding a good temporary home for him, etc..

Re: dog life jackets, check out the critters inflatible dog vest: Critter's Inflatable

A huge plus about this vest is that you can attach an automatically activated AIS or PLB device to them. I had mine rigged with the same AIS device used in the human vests onboard, and would transmit a MOB signal for 10nm with a GPS fix in the event he went over.

Also lifeline netting

Best of luck to you and the little dude.
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Old 11-12-2015, 15:54   #18
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Re: Sailing with a dog

Emily,

You might be interested in this thread: "Introducing a Young Dog to Sailing", running concurrently with yours.

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Old 12-12-2015, 02:02   #19
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Re: Sailing with a dog

Some good points raised so far. Definitely getting the dog to use some astroturf is great if they will! One of ours refused to "go" for over 36 hours last summer, and she was visibly shaking by the time we got to land.

We use a gangplank for all the crew to get onboard when moored bows-to, and the dogs have no problem with it even at 45 degree incline. Best advice is to start them early - all three of ours have started sailing at a very young age, basically as soon as we got them at 2-3 months old. They do need lots of drinking water, and of course food as well!

Ours always have lifejackets on while under way, and when it is rough I tie a rope to the jacket as well. I am not sure how well the bouyancy helps them when in the water, but the bright orange or yellow colour certainly helps you find them quickly (black dog in dark water is not easy to see) plus the grab handle on the back gives you something to get hold of. The only time one of ours has fallen in was at the dock, which of course is a dangerous place for humans too. Luckily we could grab her jacket and lift her out quite quickly.
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Old 12-12-2015, 08:02   #20
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Re: Sailing with a dog

Spaniels of all types make great sailing companions. I found that it was a good idea to have a few spare bones to keep the dog occupied. His favourite spot was on the cabin top under the spray hood which was more or less flat if he was on the windward side. problem was that when tacking he would then find himself on the leeward side and at an uncomfortable angle. Solution? I would tack-the-bone first by placing it on the other side of the cabin top which he would follow across, and then tack the boat (auto-tack). He never really reached the point of doing his business on the foredeck, much happier ashore.
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Old 12-12-2015, 08:53   #21
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Re: Sailing with a dog

Balrog is a boat dog since age 5. He's almost 10 now and loves life onboard. I tried to teach him to use AstroTurf, tried peeing on it with him watching, tried planting a dead tree next to it but it didn't work. He soon figured out the best place was the front net where it just falls through to the sea (with a little help from us bouncing on the net occasionally) he's not too fussed about visiting land and often goes for a week or more without touching the sand. Once in rough conditions he didn't want to visit the net and pooped on the transom. I don't blame him as I did t want to visit the net either. His longest passage was 22 days and he was fine but wondered why we weren't stopping to anchor sometimes so he could swim. He lazes about on passage, looking out for dolphins or lounging in the cockpit. At anchor he swims a lot when he feels like it and climbs the swim ladder so there's no need for us to assist him when he feels like a dip. He won't swim without our permission though (he always looks and asks first) which is good as we would be worried if we didn't have our eye on him. The biggest issue we have ever had is visiting some island where dog poisoning is prevalent and if we take him to shore we have to be extra alert for what he might sniff ( carriacou and Grenada especially)
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Old 17-12-2015, 19:00   #22
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Re: Sailing with a dog

My girl started sailing at 4, she is now 10 and is a liveaboard, local cruising Collie, 65lbs. My suggestions: 1) Buy a folding doggie ramp. You can find used.
2) PFD that you can carry her in, or hoist her in. 3) Add netting around your lifelines. 4) Going potty. Find a flat spot on the boat to teach her to do her business. My girl likes the flush deck foredeck. She didn't need the faux grass since I taught her to pee there. Gather some of her pee and apply it there. I squatted in walking circled and made psss, psss noises while telling her to do her business. It worked. Going in the cockpit is the safest, however, she has yet to go underway so there is no safety issue with the foredeck.

Dinghy: I have an open, sugar scoop transom. Its fabulous, she can actually hop in the dinghy from it. If I had a high freeboard boat and no open transom I would use that ramp. That ramp also, if long enough, could be her way up and down the ladder. One could also do a block and tackle house using the boom (just ensure that pfd wont hurt her while doing that).

Staying calm with her while underway will ease her anxiety. She likes staying in the aft cabin berth, when below. On deck she always does best in the cockpit, assisting at the helm.

Others here have made the good suggestion to buy anti-anxiety meds from the vet for passages.

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Old 17-12-2015, 19:29   #23
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Re: Sailing with a dog

Our dog hates the water (swimming) She would be terrified when we took the boat out.

I thought that like people, she needs to see what really scary looks like.

When we finally left to go cruising... she saw what beating to weather in 30 knots at night was like.

Now she loves taking the boat out, runs around when we're sailing, even uses the head (potty pad on bow) when underway.

IMO seeing nasty conditions changed her point of reference, and now she can enjoy when it's beautiful sailing conditions.

She still doesn't like it when the engines running, but neither do we.

BTW dog is a 75lb pitbull.
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Old 15-01-2016, 07:26   #24
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Re: Sailing with a dog

When we owned "Bonaventure" a Gulfstar 44 MS we also owned two Golden Retrievers. They were great. Because of the GS 44 big wide stern we had a very big swim platform with a three step ladder leading down to it. Yep that became the place for them to potty except while underway, where they would use the foredeck. They would also climb regular household ladders when we were on the hard to get on and off the boat. If you know Goldens you know they love the water. Swim? You betcha and we never had any flea or bug problems with them. While underway if it was really rough they went below but for the most part they stayed on deck or in the cockpit.
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Old 09-05-2016, 15:28   #25
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Re: Sailing with a dog

We are planning a 10 day crossing with our 3 little dogs.
They have all day sailed before but do their business on shore. I am a little worried about this problem of where to let them go while sailing non stop for 10 days.
Any help is appreciated.
They are all under 20 lbs. They are happy on boats.
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Old 09-05-2016, 15:41   #26
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Re: Sailing with a dog

You are going to need to find out if they will go on the boat before! Some astro turf might helps.
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Old 09-05-2016, 16:00   #27
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Re: Sailing with a dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sail girl View Post
We are planning a 10 day crossing with our 3 little dogs.
They have all day sailed before but do their business on shore. I am a little worried about this problem of where to let them go while sailing non stop for 10 days.
Any help is appreciated.
They are all under 20 lbs. They are happy on boats.
Might want to try something like 'fresh patch' if they're used to going on grass. I'll be ordering some soon to try, mine won't go on astro turf.
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Old 10-05-2016, 09:12   #28
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Re: Sailing with a dog

Initially, I collected a sample of pee-d upon sand, and sprinkled it on the astroturf to give my dog the idea. If you have three, then probably collect the sample from all but especially the most "under dog". Usually the least dominant dog pees first, the next most will then pee on his/her spot, and finally the alpha dog finishes the scent mark. When the dog really has to go, s/he will go! But expect it to take a painfully long time at first. You can't give up, if you do a trial run and give up and take the dogs to shore, they will expect that if they hold it enough, you will eventually take them to shore.

I always give a "cookie" for using the astroturf - positive reinforcement. I prompt my dog "Go hurry up and I'll give you a cookie" ("Hurry up" is a euphamism for voiding.) Of course, give lots of praise when the dog does go. I still am on a near 100% reinforcement cycle. Any pee or poo = cookie, so Dixi likes her mat. Dixi will now pee on command, even when she really doesn't need to, in order to get her cookie. (We reduce regular meal size to compensate if needed, though she is now so used to it the treat can be a single piece of macaroni and she still feels she's been rewarded.) Peeing on command is very helpful, as now we can get her to "go" before we do a long sail.

She sometimes tries to scam us. She will trot out to the foredeck where the astroturf is and then come back, to see if that will earn her a cookie. But I can see the wet trickle and only "pay" for true performance. BTW, we keep a bucket w/ a long rope on it to make deck rinsing quick and easy. For our set up, it's easier than using the deck power wash.
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Old 10-05-2016, 09:30   #29
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Re: Sailing with a dog

I sail with a dog and it's a PITA, stubborn old 60 pound hound dog, wasn't able to introduce him to sailing until he was 8.

He loves being around us, so he puts up with it, but when lifting him up and down the companionway, he wiggles and kicks. On deck he's permanently in the way.

At the end of the day though, ID rather have him with me and he feels the same way, so you just find ways to deal with it.

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Old 11-05-2016, 00:54   #30
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Re: Sailing with a dog

Quote:
Originally Posted by Virginia Lee View Post
Initially, I collected a sample of pee-d upon sand, and sprinkled it on the astroturf to give my dog the idea. If you have three, then probably collect the sample from all but especially the most "under dog". Usually the least dominant dog pees first, the next most will then pee on his/her spot, and finally the alpha dog finishes the scent mark. When the dog really has to go, s/he will go! But expect it to take a painfully long time at first. You can't give up, if you do a trial run and give up and take the dogs to shore, they will expect that if they hold it enough, you will eventually take them to shore.

I always give a "cookie" for using the astroturf - positive reinforcement. I prompt my dog "Go hurry up and I'll give you a cookie" ("Hurry up" is a euphamism for voiding.) Of course, give lots of praise when the dog does go. I still am on a near 100% reinforcement cycle. Any pee or poo = cookie, so Dixi likes her mat. Dixi will now pee on command, even when she really doesn't need to, in order to get her cookie. (We reduce regular meal size to compensate if needed, though she is now so used to it the treat can be a single piece of macaroni and she still feels she's been rewarded.) Peeing on command is very helpful, as now we can get her to "go" before we do a long sail.

She sometimes tries to scam us. She will trot out to the foredeck where the astroturf is and then come back, to see if that will earn her a cookie. But I can see the wet trickle and only "pay" for true performance. BTW, we keep a bucket w/ a long rope on it to make deck rinsing quick and easy. For our set up, it's easier than using the deck power wash.
These are sound principles. Follow them. They will work.
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