When Nature Calls To Your Dog on a Boat…
The slapping water against the hull of your boat, as you rock back and forth in the bay, lulls your mind to a quiet, peaceful place. You’ve anchored down for the night, the kids are all snuggled safely in their bunks and your spouse is snoring softly beside you.
Your mind drifts off with dreams of the big fish you and the kids will be catching come sunrise, the way the salt air will stimulate your senses and renew your love for the outdoors.
You doze off peacefully…suddenly, you hear a small, insistent whine somewhere off the starboard side of your bunk. “What is it, Boy? Did Timmy fall down the well?” you ask in a dream-like state. That whine is replaced by a more insistent cold, wet pointy object now jabbing at your shoulder. Somewhere between Dreamland and Reality, you realize your son’s name isn’t Timmy and you don’t have a well. “Uh-Mmmm,” you mutter, “Is someone breaking into the house?”
Determined to rouse you, your faithful friend emits a sharp and urgent, “Rarrff!” and jumping up, lands two paws and 20 pounds right in the middle of your abdomen.
Your dog, glad to see you finally getting up, rushes towards the cockpit door with a pleading whine. Your dog is urgently scratching at the door and pleading with you to get him outside – NOW! All at once, you realize, Rover is not hearing the sounds of pirates capturing your ship, but immediately needs to answer the “Call of Nature” before he leaves you presents on the beautiful carpeting within your yacht.
There is only one problem… it is 3:00 AM, pitch dark outside and you’re anchored out in a secluded cove too far from shore to easily get him there in time.
When your dog is on a boat…
what do you do when “Nature Calls” and your dog must go and you can’t get him or her to shore?
The above example is just one scenario of many when boaters find themselves with no available land for Rover to use. Is it necessary for all dogs to have an emergency relief place to go? Although you think now it may rarely if ever get used, your pup’s peace of mind and your own will be rewarded should the need arise.
What can you do?
There are great solutions available and training your dog to be comfortable using them is neither hard nor time consuming. Consideration to the size of your dogs, the size and style of your boat and your current “house trained” system should all be taken into account when selecting which method is best for you.
Basically, we are talking about training your dog to eliminate on a predetermined place that will be comfortable for him, sanitary and convenient for you, and easy to stow on your boat. I will refer to it as “The Spot”.
With many Condo-dwelling smaller dogs now being litter-box trained to go inside at home, you may wish to carry that same method onto your boat. As utilization of space is important on every boat you may want a smaller box on your vessel than at home.
If your dog is trained to go on disposable pads without a box, I highly recommend that you add in the use of a box and line it with disposable pads, for protection of your floor. One leaking pad can leave a calling card for dogs that says, “Go Here!” and can lead to unwanted spots by your dog or visiting pooches when pads are not in place.
I highly discourage kitty litter for use with dogs. Among many things, kitty litter would likely become a sandbox for your pup, get tipped over, get ingested or simply be messy. When purchasing your litter box please consider that the edge height should be low and easy for your dog to climb over during all stages of life, including those precious senior years. A three inch lip is much higher for a Maltese than it is for a Westie!
Get your box well in advance and use it at home, training your dog so she’s comfortable with it before you ask her to use it onboard. How long in advance your particular dog will take to acclimate to the new box is entirely up to your dog, so plan ahead and don’t rush them.
Our next article will discuss training your dog to use “The Spot”.
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