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Old 06-03-2007, 14:56   #1
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Can someone give me some info on taking dogs on an extended cruise. Food, safety, bathroom, sleeping habits etc.
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Old 06-03-2007, 16:02   #2
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I will give you some ideas. There was a pretty good running thread on this on sailnet by someone that was interested in cruising with bull terriers. Here is a brief idea of what to expect:

Inside the US (assuming I am speaking to a US Citizen):

Depending on where you are at, it really is not that bad. We cruised with 2 min schnauzers. Worthless dogs (though we loved them). We would often plan our trips around where the dogs would crap. If you are looking long term runs, you better get used to washing it off the cockpit. I have read thread in the past where people tell you to train them to crap on the transom. I guess they havbe a bigger boat than my 400, because that will work on anchor... you can forget it in a sea or a passage unless Fido can swim really fast (smile). Many dogs/cats will get seasick. Ous oldest would just sleep most of the time... Scooter (now the oldest) does too.

Here are a bunch of thoughts on things that do/do not work for us:

1) THe dogs like sleeping in our aft berth underway. It really is not that bad. It is padded all the way around and they can stretch out.

2) Long runs are an issue. Other than the crapping or potential sea-sick, it is difficult for them to eat (should they want to) or drink (which they need to) as you are heeled over or in a nice sea. Be thoughtful about how you are going to get them water.

3) Food can be put in the sealed containers (plastic) like you use at Walmart. Leaving it out in a bag atracts critters and will make it stale quicker than it would in a non-marine environment (duh!). We like to sail to more remote areas, so be sure to stock up on dog food. Another point, if you feed your dogs a particulair brand (we use Iams), you better really plan on keeping that well stocked before you head out of the US or depending on where you cruise. If you take them cruising and they run out of food and you switch to Bahama Delight (or worse, people food), you will be cleaning up and dealing with more crap (litterally) than it will be worth.

4) Be cautious and thoughtful where you shore your pets. Schnauzers (like our old ones) did not need that much excercise, but we took them for walks (and pee breaks). We picked up after our pets unless we were really remote. It is just good practice.

5) Buy a RIB. You will be taking the dog all over, so you need a solid bottom dink in my opinion. If you are hitting the islands, you REALLY need a solid RIB (for obvious reasons). Also, the RIB is more stable. Without switching to another thread, this will also force you to consider where you are going to put the tender when you are making a passage. ICW and somewhat coastal just pull behind.

6) You will have to rinse off Fido everytime he comes in. Plan on a lot more baths too (than you would as a land lover). They get to stinking quickly, especially wen they find that damned old dead fish that always pops up on the shoreline inconspicuously.

7) Life jacket is a must. Dogs fall in - even ours and they were on a boat for 12 year (and running).

8) What type of boat do you have? Will they be able to make it up and down the companionway?

9) In a sea, they will hardly be able to walk (or when sailing at a nice angle) if you have wood floors. You could go over those floors (or pull them up) and replace with carpet. It would at least give them some traction.

10) Many people tether their pets. We only did that when we were afraid they would come swimming after us. If the weather was nice, they would stay in the cockpit with us. If it was night or at all questionable - down below. Like a person, if a dog goes over at night or in a sea, finding them again could be dissapointing (is that the politically correct term??). Thus, we do not really tether but in rare circumstances... others opinion vary on this.

11) Keep all of your records up to date, ie shots.

12) Better find out if they get sea sick. If so, consider boarding and flying to your destination when you make a passage.

In general, dogs cruising inside the US are generally fun but a lot of work. Many people prefer not to - understandably. It will add to your enjoyment of cruising, and take away from it. If you are the type of person that has always had dogs and does not mind cleaning up CRAP, taking them to shore in a blinding rainstorm, living with rotten fish smell (which takes about 2 days and 5 baths to get off), etc... you will enjoy it. I do not want to sound negative... but it ain't all fun and anyone that tells you otherwise is a breeder. Still, we still have them and have not thrown them overboard yet.

One side note: If you are cruising with large dogs (lab, for instance), multiply everything I just said by many factors. THe food stores go up drastically, water useage, baths, need for exercise, getting clawed up in/out of the dink, etc.

Outside the US:

All bets are off. Bahamas are ok with advanced warning and shot records. Many other countries (including the carribean) stink. Some will make it so miserable (if they allow you at all) it will not be worth the trouble. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but as I recall, the BVI requires an ADDITIONAL permit just to shore your dogs (if they allow it). If you are doing a lot outside the US and Bahamas, just do yourself a favor and review all the req's for entry. You will be shocked.

There are just my opinions, so take them as such. I love dogs and DOOOO cruise with them, HAVE cruised with them, and WILLL cruise with them again. If you get a lot of other opinions here, make sure it is from people that are liveaboards with dogs (or were) and not the weekend warriors. No offense, please!! Nothing wrong with using your boat that way... but there is such a huge difference between LA with pets and a Saturday excursion.. I cannot tell you.

Fair winds,

- CD
Mainsheet Technical Editor, C400
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Old 06-03-2007, 17:11   #3
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Use the search function and you can find a whole bunch of threads on dogs and stuff.
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Old 06-03-2007, 18:49   #4
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Tnflakbait is right, there is a lot of info in the discussions. My favorite (because I wrote it) is at A Serious Look at Cruising With a Dog

She took my address and my name
Put my credit to shame
Sunspot Baby, sure had a real good time
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Old 06-03-2007, 19:14   #5
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The perfect shipboard pet!

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Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit."
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Old 06-03-2007, 19:22   #6
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Thank you all for the info. It is very helpful
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Old 29-04-2007, 10:31   #7
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Our spaniel never came on the boat but we sailed with a friend and her large labrador. She (the labrador) was very placid. She seemed to take up most of the cockpit. She wore a harness the whole time whilst on board and embarking/disembarking.
Another time we spent a week in the Greek and Turkish islands with friends, who live on their boat, and their 2 dogs. We were windbound for 2 days towards the end of our trip and just when we were starting to think we might not get back to base for our flight home, the wind dropped just enough so that the skipper deemed it was safe to head for the mainland and .... the male dog had gone walkabout to introduce himself to the local bitches. Luckily we found him before the wind got up again.
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Old 29-04-2007, 14:34   #8

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It may also pay to intentionally let the dog go overboard. Once they realize that's been a mistake--they can do much better at remembering not to do it again. And, you'll know your "dog overboard" recovery procedure works. Ramp, lift, whatever you need for the size dog.

Hunting suppliers like Cabela's usually have a lot of supplies for water retrievers and can be a good source of dog ramps, life preservers, etc.
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