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Boating with Dogs


kiteapot
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Hi all,

 

I'm in the process of getting my first boat, and am looking for general advice and tips of how to make it "dog safe" (mostly externally) for a perpetually inquisitive Tibetan Terrier.

 

She's been on boats before, but not while they're moving. My first thought was to get a cruiser stern so she can be up there with me without the risk of either of us falling off (!) and "fence it in", in the same sort of principle as one would fence in a garden. I'll also be getting her a doggy life jacket.

 

However, there are, inevitably, things that I haven't thought about, so I'm hoping that some of the boaters with dogs on here can help?

 

Thanks in advance,

Kit

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Sydney our dog loves it on the boat.

 

On non tidal waters he just mooches around the decks, when he falls in we stick the boat in neutral, he swims to the back and we fish him out. He loves swimming so sometimes we are not sure that he falls in at all but rather jumps in!

 

On tidal waters he is tied on so he can't fall/jump off and depending on how tidal the waters are he may wear his life jacket as well just in case.

 

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I would suggest a Ruff Harness or similar in case the dog does fall in, has a grab handle to retrieve said dog.

https://ruffwear.co.uk/collections/dog-harnesses

Not cheap but what is your dogs life worth?

For safety we always have our dog attached to the boat. The rope allowed her to look down the side of the boat but short enough to stop her falling over the side.

 

I would also suggest canine swimming lessons so if the dog does fall in it is not panicked by falling in the water. I do realise some dogs just love swimming. Our Jack didn't which is why we took her to swimming lessons.

Also if the dog does fall in and you are on the move put the gear into neutral immediately and do not maneuver the boat to reach the dog.

 On the two occasions she did fall in she swam to the back of the boat.

 

DSCF3578.JPG

Edited by Ray T
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Pleeeeeeeeeeeese ensure that if you tie the dog to a boat via lead attached to its collar the length is short enough so the dog cannot get anywhere near any side. If the dog slips over and is hung by the neck ( It happens ) We have all seen hundreds over the years attached to longish lines so they can run about on the roof or indeed on deck and its curtains for the dog if you allow it to hang itself. Our dogs aover the years have never been attached to the boat. Whilst on rivers they are inside the boat and on canals loose with the wife with a Julius K9 so they can be lifted out if one ever went in. 31 years and never lost one yet into the water but ya never know.

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6 minutes ago, Ray T said:

Not cheap but what is your dogs life worth?

Absolutely. ? She already has a harness with handle for hiking and hills, and I would get a life-jacket version with handle for safe boating.

 

7 minutes ago, Ray T said:

I would also suggest canine swimming lessons so if the dog does fall in it is not panicked by falling in the water.

Also if the dog does fall in and you are on the move put the gear into neutral immediately and do not maneuver the boat to reach the dog.

 On the two occasions she did fall in she swam to the back of the boat.

She's not great with water, which is my main concern. She doesn't panic, but she freezes and looks at me like "mum... help!" so swimming lessons are a great idea, thanks!

 

Also, very very aware of "into neutral and don't move". Many years ago, had a dog (not mine) fall off a sailboat at sea. Thankfully wearing a lifejacket then, but as the lad at the helm went to turn the boat, the Skipper yelled at him - everything off. Boat and dog were happily reunited shortly after. 

 

Thanks for the thoughts!

5 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Pleeeeeeeeeeeese ensure that if you tie the dog to a boat via lead attached to its collar the length is short enough so the dog cannot get anywhere near any side. If the dog slips over and is hung by the neck ( It happens ) We have all seen hundreds over the years attached to longish lines so they can run about on the roof or indeed on deck and its curtains for the dog if you allow it to hang itself. Our dogs aover the years have never been attached to the boat. Whilst on rivers they are inside the boat and on canals loose with the wife with a Julius K9 so they can be lifted out if one ever went in. 31 years and never lost one yet into the water but ya never know.

???

 

Leads, seatbelts, everything like that is attached to her harness not her collar for that very reason. She's very very good when travelling in the car and just sits still or goes to sleep, so I'm hoping that this will transfer neatly to boating. ? Really not convinced about letting a dog run about on the roof... inside safely or outside on the cruiser stern is fine, and she'll learn quickly how to behave.

 

Thank you!

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Its is lovely having a dog loose on the roof running about or laying with you but a tale for you that happened to our frenchie.

 

Nala jumped in randomly....doesn't really like water all that much but if your in she will come in....but the lure of a log floating was too much and she just whilst under way dived in....off the back of the stern too.

So i quickly drop the boat into neutral as to avoid the prop cutting her to shreds but we travelled a considerable distance away.

Now she had a grab vest type thing with a handle but frenchies are not the best swimmers anyhow. 

Here was the problem however she swam to the edge not the boat and whilst you would think not an issue it was the coventry canal with miles of armco she could not scale and started to panic and sink. I almost jumped in to swim over but thankfully a passer by ran over and dragged her out. My heart was pounding as she would of drowned even with a vest (heavy heads can cause them to sink head first)  

From that point she was either in the engine room of the trad or on the roof in arms reach blocking her from going further forward. 

She is now more trustworthy on board and is cautious from her experience. Just a thought to consider with canal sides etc 

Thank God for that person they could see we were very shaken. Lesson learnt. Always lock her away in a lock!!!!!

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1 minute ago, Matt&Jo said:

Its is lovely having a dog loose on the roof running about or laying with you but a tale for you that happened to our frenchie.

 

Nala jumped in randomly....doesn't really like water all that much but if your in she will come in....but the lure of a log floating was too much and she just whilst under way dived in....off the back of the stern too.

So i quickly drop the boat into neutral as to avoid the prop cutting her to shreds but we travelled a considerable distance away.

Now she had a grab vest type thing with a handle but frenchies are not the best swimmers anyhow. 

Here was the problem however she swam to the edge not the boat and whilst you would think not an issue it was the coventry canal with miles of armco she could not scale and started to panic and sink. I almost jumped in to swim over but thankfully a passer by ran over and dragged her out. My heart was pounding as she would of drowned even with a vest (heavy heads can cause them to sink head first)  

From that point she was either in the engine room of the trad or on the roof in arms reach blocking her from going further forward. 

She is now more trustworthy on board and is cautious from her experience. Just a thought to consider with canal sides etc 

Thank God for that person they could see we were very shaken. Lesson learnt. Always lock her away in a lock!!!!!

Oh my gosh! My heart was in my mouth just reading that!!! ?

 

In a situation like that, would you be able to hook a harness handle with a boat hook and get her out that way?

 

Mine is a rescue, who came to me with no real training, so we spent a solid year working on the basics for safety. Stop, sit, lay down, leave it, road (means stop immediately) and HALT! for anything else, etc. She learnt very quickly, and knows when I'm telling her to stop seriously (tone of voice etc.). Very clever dog... I'm hoping this helps, not hinders, her getting used to life afloat... because it's most likely that we'll go to get the boat and then be living aboard straight away. No short gentle intros!!!

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15 minutes ago, Matt&Jo said:

 

 Always lock her away in a lock!!!!!

Good point about the locks. In the picture above we deemed the Oxford stop lock with its 6" drop not a significant risk.

We do shut our current dog (and the Jack when she was with us) inside in tunnels and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

With getting Belle, (a rescue) our current dog used to the boat we spent a day on board nothing else apart from walking her around the marina.

Next time we ran the engine but didn't go any where.

Third time we circled the marina a coupler of times, Then we went for a 45 minute trip to a winding hole and back with a couple of walks along the towpath whilst the boat was moving. 

She wasn't too happy at first but with patience and encouragement we are getting there.

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Edited by Ray T
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5 minutes ago, Naughty Cal said:

No he is a proper mongrel. We have been asked that several times before though.

 

Poodle, schnauzer, bichon frise, pomeranian, chihauhau according to the DNA test we had done.

Weird, the resemblance is remarkable. Usually the tail is a dead giveaway...

IMG_3017.JPG

3 minutes ago, Ray T said:

Good point about the locks. In the picture above we deemed the Oxford stop lock with its 6" drop not a significant risk.

We do shut our current dog (and the Jack when she was with us) inside in tunnels and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

Is this because it's a trad stern or would you do the same with a (secured) cruiser stern?

 

I think I'd be worrying about her too much to leave her anywhere near the outside of the boat in locks etc anyway! Plus I think she'll be happy enough (meaning, not panicked and destructive) with a comfy seat by the nice big windows that she can smoosh her nose onto! ?

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We cruise with a large labradoodle. When cruising he is outside on the trad stern, always wearing a harness, but never ever tied on. If the dog falls off, you don’t want it dangling over the side near the prop, or being pulled along behind the boat. When in locks or tunnels, the dog is always inside the boat. The first thing to establish though, is can your dog swim. If yes, a harness will do and you can haul them out, but if not then look at a buoyancy aid. 

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3 minutes ago, kiteapot said:

 

Is this because it's a trad stern or would you do the same with a (secured) cruiser stern?

 

I think I'd be worrying about her too much to leave her anywhere near the outside of the boat in locks etc anyway! Plus I think she'll be happy enough (meaning, not panicked and destructive) with a comfy seat by the nice big windows that she can smoosh her nose onto! ?

Personally I would put the dog below with any type of stern.

Ah I love nose murals. :D

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8 minutes ago, kiteapot said:

Oh my gosh! My heart was in my mouth just reading that!!! ?

 

In a situation like that, would you be able to hook a harness handle with a boat hook and get her out that way?

 

Mine is a rescue, who came to me with no real training, so we spent a solid year working on the basics for safety. Stop, sit, lay down, leave it, road (means stop immediately) and HALT! for anything else, etc. She learnt very quickly, and knows when I'm telling her to stop seriously (tone of voice etc.). Very clever dog... I'm hoping this helps, not hinders, her getting used to life afloat... because it's most likely that we'll go to get the boat and then be living aboard straight away. No short gentle intros!!!

The boat had already traveled well out of reach before we knew it...honestly its shocking with all that inertia and i dare not stick it into reverse. It all happens so fast and your powerless.

 

7 minutes ago, Ray T said:

Good point about the locks. In the picture above we deemed the Oxford stop lock with its 6" drop not a significant risk.

We do shut our current dog (and the Jack when she was with us) inside in tunnels and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

We pull her in now for any lock. She is a bit dopey being a frenchie (not renowned for brains) 

I just worry about the pressure of water drawing her down and through a paddle...ive seen a video of a leaking lock gate draw a human towards it let alone from an open paddle.

Im sure your decisions are safe but im overly cautious i guess

 

Pics of her now as an adult and as a pup on our motor cruiser (salty boat)

 

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8 minutes ago, kiteapot said:

Weird, the resemblance is remarkable. Usually the tail is a dead giveaway...

IMG_3017.JPG

Is this because it's a trad stern or would you do the same with a (secured) cruiser stern?

 

I think I'd be worrying about her too much to leave her anywhere near the outside of the boat in locks etc anyway! Plus I think she'll be happy enough (meaning, not panicked and destructive) with a comfy seat by the nice big windows that she can smoosh her nose onto! ?

The resemblance is uncanny.

 

On the odd occasion we stick Syd downstairs, which is only usually if it is very hot in the cockpit, he sticks his head out of the windows. He much prefers being outside.

 

20180726-144948-Copy.jpg

 

20180725-201733.jpg

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3 minutes ago, Phil. said:

We cruise with a large labradoodle. When cruising he is outside on the trad stern, always wearing a harness, but never ever tied on. If the dog falls off, you don’t want it dangling over the side near the prop, or being pulled along behind the boat. When in locks or tunnels, the dog is always inside the boat. The first thing to establish though, is can your dog swim. If yes, a harness will do and you can haul them out, but if not then look at a buoyancy aid. 

Theoretically, yes,. But as a long-haired mountain dog (albeit clipped int he picture above) it makes swimming hard, and as a breed they're generally not swimmers by choice.

 

Thank you so much for the thoughts!

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Unlike others who have dogs on board, I never encourage my dogs to like swimming - the last thing you want on a boat is a soaking wet dog shaking itself over everything.  It has always been border collies i have had and with everyone of them, the first time we take them boating, they fall in - usually by leaping for the bank instead of "staying" as they have been told to do.  By the third time they do this they have learned to stay when they are told and they have mastered the art of swimming but not enough to actually like doing it. By the time I get off the boat to fish them out, they have probably tried to get out by themselves and found out how hard it is. This too makes them think twice about going swimming.  My dogs like to paddle in shallow water but that is as far as it goes. 

 

haggis

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We have cheeky cockers. They have always been attached by keeping their leads on and tying a rope through the handles which is attached to the boat. As someone said above, the combination is only long enough to keep them within the profile of the boat. They are therefore free to move about and choose whether to be with me on the back or in their bed. Again, we've never lost one. We do have doggie life jackets, but only use them when the dog gets old and infirm as an extra precaution.

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8 minutes ago, haggis said:

Unlike others who have dogs on board, I never encourage my dogs to like swimming

Ditto. I've done quite a lot of boating in various forms, and didn't want her deciding to leap off a kayak in the middle of the fjords because something over there smelled marginally more interesting!

5 minutes ago, MaryP said:

They are therefore free to move about and choose whether to be with me on the back or in their bed.

Thanks! This sounds ideal - once the initial novelty of "new boat sniffs"has eased, she should be just as happy to curl up on her bed. I hope! How long did it take for yours to get used to it?

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9 minutes ago, kiteapot said:

Ditto. I've done quite a lot of boating in various forms, and didn't want her deciding to leap off a kayak in the middle of the fjords because something over there smelled marginally more interesting!

Thanks! This sounds ideal - once the initial novelty of "new boat sniffs"has eased, she should be just as happy to curl up on her bed. I hope! How long did it take for yours to get used to it?

5 minutes! Just joking, but they loved it straight away. I forgot to say, they go inside at locks, as they would be a trip hazard if not. We have a Springer, and so a wide gunnel. They can just get their front paws on it for the best view and smells. They often dash from one side to the other whilst we're underway, depending on where the ducks are.... Have fun!

Edited by MaryP
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36 minutes ago, haggis said:

Unlike others who have dogs on board, I never encourage my dogs to like swimming - the last thing you want on a boat is a soaking wet dog shaking itself over everything.  It has always been border collies i have had and with everyone of them, the first time we take them boating, they fall in - usually by leaping for the bank instead of "staying" as they have been told to do.  By the third time they do this they have learned to stay when they are told and they have mastered the art of swimming but not enough to actually like doing it. By the time I get off the boat to fish them out, they have probably tried to get out by themselves and found out how hard it is. This too makes them think twice about going swimming.  My dogs like to paddle in shallow water but that is as far as it goes. 

 

haggis

No chance with ours. Luckily our cockpit is weather proof and just wipe clean so it really doesn't matter how wet or dirty it gets we just hose it out.

 

Ours will swim in any water. 

 

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1 hour ago, Ray T said:

 

DSCF3578.JPG

 

I won't have a dog on a trad stern deck like that. The space is just too small and there is too much chance that you will trip over the dog at the wrong moment, or get your foot caught in the lead.

We generally keep Athena on the back cabin roof, tied to the mushroom vent on a short enough lead that she can't fall over the cabin side. Keep a blanket and bowl of water up there too.

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At locks she likes to come off the boat, although it is a bit of a pain holding onto the dog with one hand while opening a paddle with the other.

 

Edited by David Mack
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