ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Taking Your Dog on a Boat

Updated on June 14, 2016

“The more I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.”

Charles de Gaulle-French President

What would the world be without man’s best friend?

Fiercely brave, friendly, and loyal to a fault, dogs know their loved ones in the dark. They dance for joy when their masters open the door and mourn horribly when they leave. Dogs are patient with kids on a saintly level; and they have an intuitive sense about the quality of people they meet. If a dog growls at me I figure it’s because I did something to deserve it.

Dog-owning boaters have confided in me that they often prefer the company of their dog over people. This makes perfect sense: how many people do you know who love you unconditionally and would lay down their lives for you, all for the price of some food, water, and a daily walk around the block? When asked why she sails with her wiener dog Rudy, marine writer and live aboard sailor Suzanne Giesemann answers that, “he brings a whole new dimension of love to our lives.”

Canines can, however, be a chore to have on board. Once at a raft up on the Chesapeake I heard someone remark that, “I love dogs, and I love boats, but I hate dogs on boats.” I was recently reminded of this credo while sailing with friends on a newly purchased 37-foot Hunter. Milo and Sidney were basically lap dogs who were abruptly removed from their cushy existence to a life afloat. And though they enjoyed the increased time with their masters, they had difficulty adjusting to the exigencies of ocean sailing.

The trouble started early when Yip and Yap discovered that they were unable to traverse the companionway ladder. They would bark until they were carried above or below, which raised the blood pressure of the already stressed-out owners. I’m no Dr. Doolittle, but those dogs clearly communicated to me that they did not like being cooped up on that boat.

Of course the dogs desired to be close to the action and would park themselves underfoot at the worse times, hoisting sails, tacking or jibing in a heavy seaway, or while cooking. And approaching the dock—this was the worst, they would bark like the boat was on fire.

Their kindly owners were loathe to treat them as anything but mischievous children, and enabled their disruptive behavior with soothing baby talk. When they barked for attention they just couldn’t tune it out and I worried that they would crash the boat. And there were times when we had to leave them on board. The guilt was palpable as we motored off in the dinghy with both dogs yapping wildly. When we returned an hour later they were still yapping. Our neighboring boats could not have been pleased with that.

And then there was the potty training. A large Astroturf welcome mat was placed on the “poop” deck to coax them to do their business, but after three-weeks of effort the dogs only stared at it, flummoxed. There were several loud and embarrassing failures until the dogs finally trained their masters to bring them ashore twice daily for relief and a walk.

I left them at a marina in Boston with both dogs patrolling the deck, barking at anything that moved. But even with all the trials, it’s patently clear that my sailing friends are far better off with the kids on board, for better or worse, a family.

Converting Your Lap Dog to a Sea Dog

*Even if your dog is a good swimmer have it fitted for a life preserver—and use it.

*Bring current health records to show authorities.

*Attach ID info and your cell phone number to dog’s collar.

*Dog meds and preferred food may be hard to find as you travel, bring along a good supply.

*Bring leash and plastic bags when you go ashore, pick up after your pooch!

*If your dog is a barker, try to drop your anchor far from other boats.

*Teach your dog to stay below when commanded.

*If you must leave dog on board, it should be below with companionway closed.

*Praise your dog profusely when it does business in the correct place.

Robert Beringer’s first ebook, Water Power! a collection of marine short stories, is available at For a free sample go to


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)