August 2014. Pet Poop Primer. (it's not horrid!)
More than once I've had folks ask
about how I manage with Skipper aboard Seaweed. Specifically, pet
owners want to know how we handle the daily walks. The how's,
where's and what we do to keep things clean afloat while still
allowing Skipper to do her business is the subject of this missive.
When Skipper first came to me she was fully house
broken and boat broken as well. I was fortunate that way.
However, each time we got into the dinghy Skipper
would promptly anoint it. I can't tell you how unpleasant that was.
Trust me when I say that little ritual got old the first time she
tinkled in the dink! It did not improve over time either.
And even though she's small... well, there had
to be a better way.
Motivation helps and my Skipper just loves to go
for dinghy rides. There's not much she likes more and indeed, if
Algae is within hop-in distance from the swim platform she'll "Man
the Lifeboat" and be waiting for me to take her places.
Skip enjoys riding with JonGarret in Algae:
Yes, at the beginning each time she jumped into
the dink I'd say "Man the Lifeboat" and now she's got that down.
It's nautical, and after all Skipper is a boat dog. We do have a
reputation to maintain.
For my First Mate, there are times when I simply
row once around Seaweed. Even that short ride seems to satisfy the
pup, and I like making her happy. Like small children, it is the
little things that bring them joy. It's so simple for us to take
the time and provide an experience that brings pleasure...
And heck, it's fun for me too!
But apparently to her eyes, Algae
(not inside Seaweed) so that was prime dirt.
The solution for Skipper was to first let Algae
drift back far enough away from Seaweed that she couldn't hop in.
Then I'd place Skip on the swim platform and wait. When she produced
there was lots of praise, followed by a ride in Algae.
She loves going for dinghy rides so was well
And ashore she meets and makes
friends. Here's Skipper's friend Brianna:
I'm fortunate in that I don't have to haul her to
shore each time she needs to relieve herself. She'll go if the boat
is rocking. Even if water washes over the swim platform she'll still
use it. That said, I do put her in her life jacket and attach
her to the wind-gen post so she can't fall overboard.
I've got a leash tied to the center the perfect
length so she can reach each corner but cannot go over the side. For
some reason Skipper prefers the corners so I don't worry about her
going directly aft. With a bucket handy it's a simple matter for me
to rinse off anything deposited there.
Safety of course is a concern. Thus at night she
always wears her life jacket and is attached to the boat with the
leash. If the weather is rough or the current is moving
swiftly I'll use the leash and life jacket as well.
Now when we're underway as we have been of late,
Skipper still needs to go. She lets me know by going out into the
cockpit. If there are no obstructions or traffic around I'll
put Seaweed in neutral, and then wait for the forward propulsion to
cease. Then, into the life jacket, leashed and onto the swim
platform. It doesn't take long and we are back underway again.
Unless of course there are dolphins around and
then I can count on Skipper being highly distracted and unwilling to
finish up business. Those are the times when, if I'm off the channel
and some place safe for the night I'll stop. After all, I like
Skipper loves dolphin and I like
indulging her whims.
Because she uses the swim platform when we are at
anchor there is no need for me to row to shore each morning and
night. I think it's far more comfortable for her as well, because
she doesn't have to wait for long. If you have a swim platform I
encourage you to try your pet on it.
Two other methods I've heard
used with success:
Some folks utilize
indoor/outdoor carpet. They put a grommet in one corner and then
toss it over the side for a rinse after each use. That
works okay but eventually the plastic does absorb the urine
odors -- not good. Either replace or don't anchor upwind of me.
Other boaters let their dog
choose one corner of the cockpit or foredeck to use as the potty
area. Rinsing off keeps things clean along with regular scrubs
with soap and bleach. For me, that's too messy -- and who wants
tinkle (or worse!) inside the gunnels?
The final solution for some dogs
is they simply have to be taken to shore each morning and night.
That's got to be a pain in the dinghy, especially when it's rainy
or cold and damp.
If at all possible I'd encourage
those with a swim platform to give it a try. You might even put the piece of carpet on the
platform if you like. And then wait.
If you can get another dog that
uses a platform to use yours, well, that should work too. Most dogs
will go over another dog's stuff in order to mark their territory.
Use that to your advantage. If you cannot find a dog to go on your
platform, well men... I've heard some fellas (who prefer anonymity
for some reason) have marked the platform and the dog has copied the
Life is good afloat for my Skipper, though I do
know she enjoys dirt too.
Anyway, it's getting late and
dinner is on the stove. Perhaps later tonight I'll take her to dirt
for a walk. It will be cooler then.
Have you a boat dog?
Please share any tricks that worked for your pet training. Thanks.
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