One of the most frequent questions that we get about living on a boat is “How is it with the dogs”? It might surprise you that in our travels we would estimate that maybe 65% of the full time cruisers have one or two dogs onboard. Even more amazing is that many of the dogs are fairly large – Labs, Goldens, Huskies, Bull Dogs and many Doodles. We have seen a wide variety. For most people it is the pet that they had on land so they simply took the dog with them. The Dog House is now the Boat House and some adapt better than others, but overall everyone is happy for the companionship of their best friend.
Our dog, Jazzy, is an eight year old Schnauzer, who is in his 4th year of living on a boat. Dogs are able to adapt pretty easily to the lifestyle. Dogs love to be close to their people and we actually spend more time with him on the boat. When Steve and I were working we often left Jazzy alone for 8 hours or more. This never happens on a boat. We may go out for dinner, but often the restaurant is pet friendly and he goes, too. While we are in a marina he loves to be out on the exterior of the boat and patrol the perimeter. He doesn’t jump off or on the boat unless told. If I leave the boat to take out the trash he will wait patiently and watch for me to return. There is always something interesting going on in a marina and he gets lots of attention.
When we are underway he sleeps, much like he does when riding in a car. He doesn’t like a rough ride, but neither do I. When the wave action gets too much he honkers down on the couch next to the pillows. I try to sit next to him and we all grit our teeth until we get to smoother water. I know that some dogs do get seasick, but he has been okay on the boat and not been sick. He does the mental block out with sleeping.
His favorite time is after we dock at the marina. He knows that I have to go up to the office and check in and this is his time to explore. Oh, he also knows that many marina offices stock up dog treats so he can’t wait to go. He constantly is meeting new people and lots of dogs. It would be difficult to travel with a dog that didn’t like other dogs or greeting people. Fortunately, Jazzy is up for all of that. I call it “Doggie Speed Dating”. He can’t wait to get to the dog, but once he has had his sniff he is looking for a new dog. He also looks forward to Docktails when people come to our boat. If they have dogs, they are invited, too, so it all is one big social event.
Jazzy is fortunate that we often travel with his BFF, Mozzy (which is short for Maserati cuz he’s fast). Mozzy is a five year old Shi-Poo who has adapted to Boat Life better than Jazzy. They place “chase” up and down the hall, on the dock and especially on any beach. Steve had to put up dog netting along the side of the boat because they would run back and forth “body checking” each other. I would strongly recommend the netting for dogs living aboard if your sides are low. We ordered the material online and Steve installed it himself. We sometimes add more dogs as Gypsies Palace and become the dock kennel when owners leave the boat. Abby from One Eye Dog loves to come on board and get the boys all chasing her ball. We really do have so much fun with these dogs!
Some places come with Perks. Recently, we stopped in Titusville, FL. Next to the marina is a Dog Park. Life could not be better than a Dog Park. Well, maybe a beach is a great time, too, especially without a leash. No one is happier than to see dogs enjoying themselves on a beach. Jazzy likes the sand, whereas, Mozzy and Abby splash around in the water.
The dinghy is another reason for tail wagging. Both Jazzy and Mozzy love to ride in the dinghy. They readily jump in and out and cannot wait for Steve to get it ready for them. They know the dinghy means “relief” and great spots to explore. The dogs also love to ride in the kayaks. Who knew?
The question that you all want to know is what do the dogs do when they have to go to the bathroom? Are they trained to go on the boat? Ideally, we all want the dogs to be boat trained on a pad before casting lines for the cruising lifestyle. Sadly, that doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes not ever.Read More