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Date: 4 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 was "outside" (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 motivated.

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 dolphin too.


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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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 idea.

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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