Do you love being out on the open water? If you have pets, such as dogs, you more than likely don’t want to consider spending a long period of time on your houseboat, yacht or other watercraft without bringing your best friend with you. If you are considering having your dog spend long periods of time with you, you’ll want to make sure that you find dog friendly marinas. You also want to make sure that your dog is well prepared for living with you at different dog friendly marinas.

If you’ve never included your dog before because you have been concerned about living on a boat with your pet, you can rest easy because it’s absolutely possible for dogs to live on boats. It’s just important that the marinas are dog friendly but, that they also include places like a marina dog park. On top of pet friendly marinas and marina dog parks, you will need to make sure that your four-legged friend is well trained for a boat to ensure that you both can live together in a safe and harmonious environment.

Important Things About Your Dog

If you are going to bring your dog with you to live on your boat, it’s important that your dog exhibits the following characteristics:

  • Your dog loves being around water. Sadly, there are some dogs that really hate water; however, more dogs than not do tend to love not only being around water but can’t wait to get in it. Those that love the water will be wonderful crew mates.
  • It’s important that your dog is a strong swimmer. For safety sake, this important because it will give you peace of mind when your dog is living with you on your boat.
  • Make sure your dog doesn’t get seasick, you sure don’t want them to be miserable all the time. But if they do become sick while on the boat make sure that you get medication for seasickness from your vet. You don’t want your furry buddy feeling miserable.
  • Room to run is important. This is especially important if your dog is super energetic. This is why it’s important to make sure that the spot you choose to dock at has a marina dog park, or other dog park that is nearby.

History of Dogs Living on Boats

Even though history is pretty sure that man has been building boats and ships that were sea-worthy for about 800,000 years, when dogs became part of that, no one really knows. However, we do know that there were several breeds that were specifically developed for having the ability to work and live on and around water. For instance, Labradors were often used by fishermen to go and fetch the fish that would fall off the hooks or help them pull in their fishing nets. Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were often prized hunting companions for retrieving ducks from the cold, icy water and the Irish Setter for birding because of its incredible skills in the water.

There are no rules on what dog can or can’t live with you on a boat because most often it will depend on personality and not breed. However, here is a short list of the breeds that are most successful on boats and around water in general:

  • Labradors
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Irish Setter
  • English Setter
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Poodle

Don’t be discouraged by the list if your best friend isn’t on it because with love and patience your dog can be trained to live with you on your boat.


Training Your Dog to Live on Board with You

Here are a few tips on how you can prepare your dog to live with you on your boat in dog friendly marinas and keep them happy.

Take it slow. – Some dogs will feel right at home when put on a boat, but there are others who might take a little longer to adapt to their new surroundings. Allow them to explore their environment because there are going to be a lot of new sounds, smells, and sights for them to explore on your boat. Give them this opportunity to explore and for them to adjust to the sensation of movement caused by the water. Never try and force your dog to do something they aren’t comfortable with. If they seem to be cautious then introduce them to life on a boat slowly.

Potty training. – Even if your dog is already potty trained, you may have to train them for living on a boat. It’s best that where you are docked that there’s some open space like a marina dog park, so they get exercise but have a place to go potty as well. However, this isn’t always going to be the case and you’ll need to set up a special spot for them on your boat with pads, where you want them to go. Each time they use the area you want them to use, reward them with treats.

Exercise is needed. – Dog friendly marinas are key for your dog because they often will have a marina dog park where you can take your dog so they can get plenty of exercise. When you aren’t docked at a marina you will still want to make sure they get the exercise they need. You can let them go for a nice swim with you or find a beach where you can let them go for a nice run in the sand.

Make sure they have a safe place. – Conditions are not always going to be smooth sailing. There will be rough conditions at times while living on your boat. That’s why it’s important that your dog has a space that they can call their own. It should be a place where they feel safe, secure, and protected from harm. It should be a place where they feel they can retreat to if they begin to feel uncomfortable or anxious.

Provide them with things they love. – To help your dog feel more at home aboard your boat make sure that you pack all the things that they love. This should include things like their favorite foods, treats, toys, pillow, blanket, and/or bed. It’s important that they feel at home when living with you on your boat.

Once you feel that your dog has got the hang of what life is going to be like on board your boat, you should then start taking them on short cruises to see how they are going to handle being out on the water away from solid ground. If they appear to love it then you and your furry companion more than likely will have quite a few happy years together exploring the waterways together.


Stay Safe When Boating with Your Dog

Anyone who loves boating understands the importance of safety for themselves and others. It’s also important that your dog is included in those safety plans:

  • Buy a quality dog life jacket.
  • Make sure to use a harness and tether to prevent your dog from falling overboard when conditions are bad with choppy conditions.
  • Have a plan for getting your furry friend back on the boat if they do accidentally fall overboard.
  • If you plan to sail to another country, it’s important to make sure to check with your dog’s vet about any vaccinations they might need before you take off.
  • If your dog takes medication, it’s important to make sure that you have it packed along with any additional supplies you might need to have easy access to wherever you might be going.