Boat safety for Dogs: bouyancy aids, sea sickness and toilet training

Date posted: 13 May 2013

Dogs on boats – how do you care for yours?

With more people living on boats with pets, here are a few tips to make your life a little easier….
Get them a buoyancy aids , the usual suspects make them, but here is an article that advises on the best around found on ‘The Modern Bark- best tips around’
Just make sure they have a grab handle on the back and are brightly coloured, so you can see them in rough weather or in the dark and are able to scoop down and haul them out.

Teach your pup/dog whether a lab, yorkie or spaniel to come to the boat where he or she can get back aboard (like you  would your kids – and a ladder will help). I have watched many live aboard  dogs swim back and forth in marinas for exercise, but they always knew which  boats they could go to,  to get out of the water.

Put an ID tag on your dog or cat! Information to include:

  • Your boat’s permanent marina location and slip number
  • A phone contact for when you’re afloat.
  • A secondary phone number (such as a relative, or land based friend).

Sea sick dog! Dogs don’t turn the unflattering shade of green that people do when they’re experiencing motion sickness, but there are some signs of dog travel sickness you can learn to identify. These include:

  • Inactivity
  • Listlessness
  • Uneasiness
  • Yawning
  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting

The best way to prevent dog travel sickness is to make the ride as comfortable as possible for your dog. Your dog will experience fewer nauseating visual cues if he is on deck while you’re traveling, rather than down below. One way to safely do this is put a safety harness on them. Sometimes its not safe to have your dog on deck with you in this case use a travel crate, many people prefer to use crates for safety — and they do have the added benefit of containing vomit, should your dog become ill.  Also, be sure to keep the boat cool and well ventilated, as a hot or stuffy boat can contribute to unpleasant sensations for your dog.
Dogs can take the same sea sickness tablets we take, just check with your vet for the correct dosage.
Toilet training on board Most people I know take their animals onto the land at the start and end of the day to exercise them and let them go to the toilet. But on long journeys this is not always possible, I have seen plastic cat litter trays with litter in, old carpets or astro turf. If you can ‘catch’ some of your animals urine and then sprinkle onto the carpet/astro turf then when you show your animal the spot they will automatically use it, as the scent is familiar to them…. the fun obviously comes from the catching it in the first place!
If you have anything other hints to sailing with dogs or cats please feel free to add a comment.

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