If you have a dog, it’s lovely to have him/her with you lying in the sun, jumping into the water together and playing catch. But things may not be this easy – for you and your little friend. Only with good planning and empathy, you can turn the experience into a wonderful memory.
Let’s say your charter company and the crew are ok with dogs onboard. (You shouldn’t be surprised to find out that some aren’t.) And you’ve taken care of all the paperwork, vaccinations and legal documents to bring your dog abroad – if that were the case. This is only the easy part because sailing with dogs can be a little complicated than jumping into the water together and having a great time playing catch. You have to prepare more, carry more and clean up more.
Let’s face it: Some dogs do not enjoy sailing as much as others. There might be lots of reasons for this – some of them to remain unknown forever. But sea sickness, the constant rocking feeling, the sound of the engine, past trauma with water or perhaps just the way the dinghy looks at night can make your little friend develop a distaste for the boat adventure. If it’s going to be his first time on a boat, try to find out how he really feels before making any plans. Start with a few hours and increase until you’re sure that he’s a boat dog. You must give support and encouragement to make him feel safe all the way.
Your dog may have different criteria about the ideal boat. He needs enough space to move around as well as little corners and cozy spots to feel safe. Dogs may need more time trying to adjust to a new environment. Check out the boat pictures more carefully for the right kind of space and little corners where he can use to rest, look around and enjoy the experience in his own way.
Although some dogs would disagree, a doggy life jacket is an essential boat accessory, even if they are good swimmers. Open seas may be a bit more exciting and they like to feel the freedom as much as you do. Doggy life jacket is also ‘handy’ when you need to grab him - onboard or in the water. Instead of pulling his collar, you can grab him from the sides and get him safely where he needs to be.
Washing him is no problem. With all the swimming and showering on the deck, it’s part of the big fun. Hair and the potty issues are what you need to be concerned with. You don’t want the boat to be covered with dog hair, especially if you have others on board. If you think it’s going to make things easier, you might want to prevent him from getting on furniture. And always have a sticky roller to pick up the hairs when you need to. As for the potty part, there are many ways to address the problem, depending on the dog’s routine. Some use their chances when near the shore but it’s not going to be regular. Don’t forget to bring puppy pads as they will make your little friend’s day a lot easier.
If you have any story, insights, advice, tips or experience to share with fellow sailors, please write it down and email to [email protected]. We will publish it on our pages with your name!