|How to train your dog for life aboard|
When sailors think about taking their dog with them – whether for an afternoon daysail, a weekend trip, or an extended cruise – the first question is usually what to do about the dog’s bathroom needs. After all, it probably won’t be possible to take Fido ashore every time he needs to go.
The usual recommendation is to train Fido to go on a piece of carpet or Astroturf on the bow. But that begs the question: how do I teach my dog to use that area? Just putting down a piece of carpet and showing it to the dog usually ends in frustration for both dog and owner, with the all-too-frequent result being that either plans are made to only cruise where the dog can be taken ashore two or three times a day or the dog gets left behind with a family member or friend. Still, some dogs do learn, so it has to be possible.
Finally, someone’s willing to give detailed instructions for teaching your dog. Carolyn Shearlock – who normally writes about galley issues in her blog TheBoatGalley.com – has tackled the ‘how’ of teaching Fido to use the carpet in her article ‘Training a Dog to Be a Boat Dog.’
Most dogs love boat life – getting to go new places, meeting new people, exploring new areas, going for dinghy rides – and most cruising locales are very dog-friendly. It would be a shame to leave your best friend home when you really can teach them to use the carpet just by using their natural instincts.
This year, take your best friend with you!