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Old 25-01-2016, 12:10   #31
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

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We had a large dog years ago that had terrible lightning (thunder) panic attacks. We put up with it for years when living in Vancouver as thunder was relatively rare. However moving to the prairies was another story, where thunder & lightning are a very common occurrence. She would panic to the point of tearing trim and siding off the house, regardless whether she was inside or out at the time. The people who sold us the house told us about administering melatonin to help calm dogs down in this situation. They had had great success with it on their dogs. We purchased some from a health food store, gave her a small dose twice prior to thunder storms approaching and her anxiety literally disappeared. We never had to give her another dose. Not sure why or how this worked but was absolutely magic with Sasha. If you try this suggest about 1/2 hour before boarding. Good thing with this is that melatonin is a naturally occurring substance in living beings and does not make them dopey. Good luck...
My Vet prescribed a two week regimen of Xanex for my Chow due to extreme anxiety issues. The theory is that if a dog experiences those situations that ordinarily cause anxiety while MILDLY dosed with anti-axiety meds they realize that there is nothing to fear after all. It worked in our case...
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Old 25-01-2016, 12:16   #32
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

WRT melatonin: please be VERY careful about this. I would not do this to a dog, much less a human. Melatonin is the obverse of serotonin in the brain. In a human melatonin abuse can lead to catastrophic depressive episodes. Are you sure you want to mess with your dog's brain chemistry like that? I understand the lightning behaviour must have been extreme… but I am not a fan of medications which alter brain chemistry. Of course this kind of approach is rather more common in North America, including with children…
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Old 25-01-2016, 12:17   #33
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

Shanda,
Unless you're planning to hunt lions on your daysails--leave your dog home. Very few dogs acclimate well to the sea unless they were reared on a boat. We took our beloved hunting dog--a Britanny Spaniel aboard the first year of our ten-year cruise. She was 8 y.o. at the time and never acclimated to the boat. We were very limited in our cruising options since we had to find a suitable area on land at least once a day. She would never go aboard. Sadly, she died the next year from brain cancer a week aft her last quail hunt. She was intelligent, biddable and the best upland dog I ever owned. She never liked the boat. In my opinion, if you love dogs . . . don't bring them aboard your boat. Good luck and good sailing.
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Old 25-01-2016, 12:21   #34
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

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Shanda,
Unless you're planning to hunt lions on your daysails--leave your dog home. Very few dogs acclimate well to the sea unless they were reared on a boat. We took our beloved hunting dog--a Britanny Spaniel aboard the first year of our ten-year cruise. She was 8 y.o. at the time and never acclimated to the boat. We were very limited in our cruising options since we had to find a suitable area on land at least once a day. She would never go aboard. Sadly, she died the next year from brain cancer a week aft her last quail hunt. She was intelligent, biddable and the best upland dog I ever owned. She never liked the boat. In my opinion, if you love dogs . . . don't bring them aboard your boat. Good luck and good sailing.
Yep..
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Old 25-01-2016, 12:23   #35
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

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Hi There,
I'm new to the forum so my apologies if my question has been answered in previous posts. I see there are many posts about dogs on board and it seems like most of the dogs are OK with actually being on board. Our one year old ridgeback is fearless in all aspects of life except for when he gets on the boat. He is reduced to a panting , trembling mess even with a few " calmex" in him. We so want him to be included in our day outings but feel maybe we are just torturing him by hoping he is going get " used" to it. Any advice would be awesome and again my apologies if this has been addressed previously. Thanks! ( we have a 10 metre Hartley motor sailer)
I had said leave the dog home if it is day sailing. Try taking it onboard and remaining at the dock. A Ridgeback is not really a water breed.

Good luck!
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Old 25-01-2016, 12:28   #36
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

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WRT melatonin: please be VERY careful about this. I would not do this to a dog, much less a human. Melatonin is the obverse of serotonin in the brain. In a human melatonin abuse can lead to catastrophic depressive episodes. Are you sure you want to mess with your dog's brain chemistry like that? I understand the lightning behaviour must have been extreme… but I am not a fan of medications which alter brain chemistry. Of course this kind of approach is rather more common in North America, including with children…
I have to agree with your observation re "medications" here in the US, and I am vehemently opposed to such widespread pill pushing. but I must admit that two weeks of .5mg Xanex once every evening helped my out of control dog realize that her fears were unfounded.
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Old 25-01-2016, 12:33   #37
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

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Shanda,
Unless you're planning to hunt lions on your daysails--leave your dog home. Very few dogs acclimate well to the sea unless they were reared on a boat. We took our beloved hunting dog--a Britanny Spaniel aboard the first year of our ten-year cruise. She was 8 y.o. at the time and never acclimated to the boat. We were very limited in our cruising options since we had to find a suitable area on land at least once a day. She would never go aboard. Sadly, she died the next year from brain cancer a week aft her last quail hunt. She was intelligent, biddable and the best upland dog I ever owned. She never liked the boat. In my opinion, if you love dogs . . . don't bring them aboard your boat. Good luck and good sailing.
To say that about all dogs is not completely accurate. Some dogs have problems, some don't. Any dog will have a hard time soiling it's own area, but virtually any dog can, with patience, be trained to adapt.

No offense intended, just an observation of my own experiences and those of
many others.
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Old 25-01-2016, 12:41   #38
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

You may also find there's a reason that the handlers at dog shows are always slipping little liver snaps to their dogs. Most dogs, especially if they have not been feed yet, will go anywhere and do anything for a liver snap. (Freeze dried liver.) Maybe only six inches or a foot at a time, but they'll eventually go for any "high value treat" like liver or salmon, depending on the dog.


I had a 175# water rescue breed who literally would retract the landing gear and refuse to enter a dock, much less a boat. No treats, no arguments just "Hey, I'm not going out there." And yet, she could pull two grown men out of the surf when she walked (or was conned) into it from a beach.


Solution? Either the dog waited at home, or went visiting for the weekend. That can work, too.
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Old 25-01-2016, 12:45   #39
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

Our dogs were like that at first. they had grown up with a fenced yard and long walks and hikes several times a week. then we moved aboard and they were scared, even when the boat was in the slip. so we started taking them on short, rowed dinghy trips to places they thought were fun. the lab especially liked rowing to the kiddy beach and to the ice cream store. now we cruise and they sometimes don't et ashore for several days, but as soon as we come into an anchorage they can smell land and know they are going ashore somewhere exciting and new. they still don't like peeing and pooing on the foredeck when the seas are high or the wind is above 30 kts or so, and the jack russell is afraid when the engine is going, but if it runs for a few days non stop she gets sort of calm. it takes awhile, but I have heard that some dogs do not ever get used to it. good luck.
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Old 25-01-2016, 13:51   #40
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

We use "calming" vests on our Yorkies, they are vests designed for dogs fearing lightning, thunder storms ect. they are available at many pet stores at low prices.. also some winter jackets for dogs have a nice calming effect for them.
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Old 25-01-2016, 13:58   #41
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

Hi , I agree with dgz3 . My dog never got used to sailing . She was fine at the marina and loved the boat as long as it didn't move. If we went away for long periods she stayed with someone else . For single day sailing she just stayed at home and it made life more comfortable for everyone concerned . Glenn
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Old 25-01-2016, 15:39   #42
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

Little by little, is the answer. And it will take patience and sacrifice by you if you really want to get him comfortable. Our Lucy was found on a beach in Belize and she was terrified of water. Dont' know why, maybe she saw pals or offspring drown. But she wouldn't go near the water. Wouldn't walk on a dock because she could see the water between the slats. Wouldn't even step in a puddle. But she wanted to be with us and was willing to meet us halfway if we took our time. Always calm and slow with plenty of treats and other diversions. And it wasn't only about the boat. We worked on getting her comfortable with water generally - wading in from a calm beach or just getting baths in a tub. In the end, we sailed away with her and she lived with us on the boat for three years, before she passed away last November from cancer. She turned herself into a great boat dog, peeing on a mat on the foredeck and holding it for 24 hours or more on rough passages. Not sure if she was just more flexible or if any dog can be coaxed onto a boat.
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Old 25-01-2016, 16:56   #43
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

"We have a 2 year old kelpie who was also very anxious at first. We stopped taking her out for a few months, then gradually re-introduced her to the boat while at the marina. Just short visits, with treats, followed by a run and ball games on the beach (which she loves).
After a while we started taking her on a short cruises, 1-2 hours, which included a dinghy ride to the beach and more special treats. She started associating the boat with good things.
Also, introduce your dog to a PFD at home, with special treatment while they are wearing it. Again, it's the association thing. They also seem to feel a bit more secure wrapped up in the PFD, as long as it is a quality comfortable one."

BIG Time agree on the above-- my ridgeback is totally motivated by food and rewards- shuts down when corrected negatively. Footing is very important to a dog-- if their paw gets trapped, they h ave no hands to free it and if their footing is unsure, they cant run from what they percieve as danger. A beanbag works well giving them a secure place to sit or lie down without slipping all over the place-- start them out on land - lot of patience and lots of rewards.
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Old 25-01-2016, 18:43   #44
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

My wonderful German Shepard Max...the first time he walked out on a floating dock, on a lake nonetheless, his legs turned to jelly. I almost died laughing it was so hilarious to see. Dogs can get funny notions about things. Second illustration, we had a family friend who raised pot belly pigs. One of the nicest people you could ever meet. One day she came to our house...Max was half way across the room when she entered the room. Mind you, she had never met Max before. The second Max saw her his ears went flat, tail tucked under, lowered his body height, and snuck away in the opposite direction. Conclusion: the lady was either an alien or he could smell the strange smell of the pot belly pigs on her and it freaked him out.

Looks like you can try behavior modification and see if you can change his "notions"...either it will work or it won't...take some work that is for sure.
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Old 25-01-2016, 19:46   #45
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Re: Severely anxious dog on board

[QUOTE=alansmith;2027093]One day she came to our house...Max was half way across the room when she entered the room. Mind you, she had never met Max before. The second Max saw her his ears went flat, tail tucked under, lowered his body height, and snuck away in the opposite direction. QUOTE]

A sailing buddy brought his big bad Doberman to a boat party. My Siamese cat hunted him from behind the furniture and nailed his belly like he was stuck to the ceiling. Doberman turned to jelly & hid between his owner's legs.

OP - Lots of good suggestions here. Try a few. Your dog is young and may take to boating after gentle exposure. I've had two poodle that both love boats. BTW - poodles don't float
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