Having the right gear for your dog when sailing is crucial to ensure their comfort and safety onboard. While any dog can experience the joys of sailing, some breeds are better suited to life on the water than others. If you’re considering bringing your four-legged friend aboard, there are a few things to keep in mind. So, let’s explore the essential gear you’ll need to make your dog’s boating experience a breeze!
Dog Carrier Backpack: A Convenient Solution
When Chloe, our shipmate on the Elizabethan 29 sailboat, was just a small puppy, we needed a reliable way to bring her onboard. We discovered the wonders of a dog-carrying rucksack, which proved invaluable during her early months. As she grew, we made adjustments to accommodate her longer legs. While this carrier worked wonders for a while, Chloe eventually outgrew it. However, for smaller dogs, a durable and comfortable backpack carrier could be a lifelong sailing companion.
Dog Travel Kennel: A Safe Haven at Sea
Another essential item for our boating adventures with Chloe is her carrying cage. This kennel, with its roll-up sides and top, serves as her onboard sanctuary. Whether it’s the dinghy trip to the mooring or a momentary lift onto the boat, this trusty kennel ensures Chloe’s safety and comfort. We even leave it assembled onboard for easy access. It’s our go-to solution, providing peace of mind when Chloe is sailing with us.
Dog Coat: Keeping Your Pup Warm
During Chloe’s early days, our primary concern was keeping her warm while sailing. Along with her lifejacket, we invested in a snug dog coat to ward off the chill. For added comfort, we can even slip a hot water bottle into her kennel. The Ancol Muddy Paws Stormguard Coat has proved to be a reliable choice.
Dog Cooling Mat: Beating the Heat
Summers can pose a different challenge, as overheating becomes a real concern. To combat this, we use a dog cooling mat, which works wonders in keeping Chloe cool. These mats provide a refreshing surface for your dog to lie on, especially when kept away from direct sunlight and other heat sources. The Pecute Dog Cooling Mat has been a lifesaver during scorching summer trips.
Dog Cooling Coat: Chill Out in Style
To supplement the cooling mat, Chloe has her very own “cool jacket.” Made from a material similar to artificial chamois cloths, this wettable coat provides additional relief from the heat. Simply wet it, wring it out, and let your pup enjoy the cooling effect. The BAX Canine Dog Cooling Vest is an excellent option to keep your furry friend feeling refreshed.
Dog Leashes: Keeping Your Pup Close
While onboard, it’s vital to have proper leash systems in place to ensure your dog’s safety. We have a short leash permanently attached to each jackstay, which Chloe gradually became comfortable using. We also have a leash clipped to the guardrail or jackstay anchor point, providing a secure area around the cockpit. Remember, safety should be a top priority when sailing with your furry companion.
Guardrail Netting: Striking a Balance
For added security, we fitted guardrail netting. Although initially installed for when the boat is ashore, we found it handy for sailing too. While it can sometimes be a slight hindrance, especially when taut, the netting prevents Chloe from accidentally going overboard. It’s essential to find the right balance between safety and convenience when considering guardrail netting for your boat.
Dog Lifejacket: Safety First
Chloe has her own dog lifejacket, though she hasn’t yet tested it in real-life situations. Choosing the right lifejacket for boating with dogs comes with a few key considerations. Look for velcro fastenings that won’t stick to your dog’s coat, and ensure it is easy to put on securely. The lifejacket should fit comfortably along the back, and a strong attachment point and lifting handle are essential. You can find a variety of dog lifejackets on the market to suit your pup’s needs.
Dog Activity Harness: An Alternative to Lifejackets
While lifejackets are important, they may not be suitable for continuous wear, especially if your dog tends to overheat. In these instances, an activity harness can be an excellent alternative. With two straps under the belly and a sturdy handle on top, these harnesses provide security and control without compromising comfort. The Ruffwear Multi-Use Dog Harness is a reliable choice that ensures your pup stays safe and secure.
Potty Training Carpet: An Ongoing Challenge
Toilet training your dog for the boat can be a tricky task. We took advice from the PBO forum and created a washable carpet square fitted with an eyelet and a rope. This makeshift potty training carpet helped Chloe understand where to relieve herself on the boat. While it’s still a work in progress, Chloe has made significant strides, and we’re confident she’ll master boat toilet training in due time.
Choosing the Right Breed for Boating
When selecting a breed for boating, consider the advantages and drawbacks of each breed. Size is a crucial factor, as it should match the size of your boat. Additionally, consider how easily you’ll be able to lift your dog back onboard in case of a DOB situation. We found that a miniature poodle, like Chloe, fits our sailing lifestyle perfectly. However, there are many small, intelligent, and entertaining breeds that could be great companions on the water.
With the right gear and a little planning, boating with dogs can be an enjoyable experience for both you and your furry friend. Ensuring their comfort, safety, and well-being onboard is essential. Investing in quality gear, such as a dog carrier backpack, kennel, coat, cooling mat, and lifejacket, will go a long way in making your dog’s boating adventures enjoyable and worry-free. Choose a breed that suits your sailing lifestyle, and remember that patience and persistence are key when training your pup for boat life. So, pack your dog’s gear, set sail, and make cherished memories together!
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