Many people wonder what it is like to travel with a dog on board when full time cruising. So, how is life going with Jazzy, our miniature schnauzer? Transitioning from a house and yard is a big adjustment. We were convinced that Jazzy would be able to adjust, but just how much? We have taken him out on boating trips before so we knew he was comfortable with the boat, but could he really turn into a boat dog?
One thing we knew is that Jazzy is a dog that really doesn’t like the water, more specifically swimming. We had no worries that he would jump in the water to chase a bird or take a swim like a spaniel or lab. He definitely prefers the boat when it is not underway. Once the engines start he knows we are going. He usually comes inside and sits on the couch out of the way. When the ride is smooth he simply sleeps, just like at home during the day. If the motion of the boat changes i.e. from the wake of another boat, he usually hugs against me. That is not his favorite thing!
We are lucky that he is used to only being walked two times a day so he is able to “hold it” all night and for long periods. The dilemma that all dog owners who live with them on board is when we anchor out. The options are to take the dinghy to shore and walk him or teach him to use the “poop deck” on the bow of the boat. All boaters that cruise would love to have their dogs trained to go onboard, if necessary.
We have read many articles that owners have taught their dogs to go on board successfully; however, we never actually met anyone that did it . We read how others did it, but Jazzy was convinced that the front of the boat was his house. He never had an “accident” in his house or he would be in trouble. Jazzy wants to be the Good Dog and not scolded so this made the training more difficult.
For 5 months we took him to the front of the boat. We felt that the morning would be the best time for him to need to go, but he would just walk out there and sit down and enjoy the sunrise. We bought a piece of fake grass and he either avoided it or sat on it. You can see from the picture that our bow and deck is huge on Gypsies Palace. We were spreading smells from other dogs on it and he would sniff it, but would not go. We also tried the Pee Pads with no interest from him since he never used them as a puppy. On his dog walk I would say “command words” to him, but he would just search for the perfect spot and go when he was ready. It was pretty discouraging.
We started the Loop with 2 dogs instead of 1. His BFF, Mozzy,came with us until his parents meet up with us in Annapolis. For some reason on the first day of the trip, Mozzy “had to go” and used the Poop Deck. We were ecstatic! Maybe Jazzy would catch on. But, alas, after 3 more days Mozzy used it, but Jazzy still avoided going on board.
Low and behold, on the 5th day and 3 a.m. in the morning Jazzy let us know that he “had to go”. Steve jumped out of bed with a treat and the “bag” and took Jazzy to the front of the boat. He said Jazzy looked longingly towards the dock for a walk and Steve kept firm in taking him back there. Finally, he just couldn’t hold it and went. You have never seen happier parents!
Of course, we don’t know if this will be a regular thing or not, but we know that it is possible because there will be times that we are not able to get to shore with the dinghy. Funny how a small thing like this can make for exciting boat life!! I’d like to know how many people have actually succeeded with their dog.