Going on a boating holiday and trying to work out whether you can take your dog with you on board? And would your dog handle it? We've done some digging around and tried it out for you!
To begin with, it is obviously not a great idea to plan an adrenaline-fuelled voyage in strong winds or on rough ocean waters. That's the type of sailing you and your dog definitely wouldn't enjoy. But you don't have to be afraid to go with your four-legged friend on a calmer cruise taking in plenty of stops along the way. In this case you wouldn't even have to worry about taking a more timid dog.
If your dog is used to adventure and travelling and loves water, you’ll definitely enjoy your voyage. The dog will be happy to be with his pack, enjoy the water and get used to life on board.
We've prepared 7 tips for bringing your four-legged friends sailing. We’ll also provide advice on dealing with the more timid ones. However, the fact is that for certain types of dogs, a yachting holiday is just not for them and they'll be much happier at home.
So how to go about it?
7 tips to help your dog become a sea dog
1. Start slowly and before you set sail
First try out how the dog feels on board closer to home. For example, rent a boat on the nearest river or lake for a short journey. Doing this, you'll quickly discover whether and how it'll work with your dog on board and what things will need to be worked on.
If this is not possible, just do shorter sections on the first day and get used to the boat gradually together. Dogs like to conform and if you have a strong relationship together, he will trust you. You may be surprised how fast the dog feels at home.
Much depends on the nature of your dog. It is also a good idea to take your dog to various different places, to get used to new things, sudden movements and noise. Then he won't have trouble adjusting almost anywhere.
If the dog is more timid and afraid of water, he will need more time. So don't let it discourage you too much the first time, just try again. If the dog is really too stressed and you know that he generally doesn't get used to new things, consider whether you should take the dog on a boat at all. Enjoy the cruise yourself and plan a different, terrestrial adventure with your dog.
2. Take care of safety
Even if your dog is a proficient swimmer at home, don't underestimate the need for a life jacket. In big waves and far from the mainland, it wouldn't stand much of a chance when falling into a stormy sea. A jacket like this is not included so you'll need to buy one yourself. It is also sensible to order a safety net, a net that you stretch around the railing - if you sail with children, you are probably already familiar with it. It's definitely worth it, especially for active dogs.
Even steep stairs, a narrow footbridge and an unstable surface can cause a problem. Try to pack and use anti-slip mats, a piece of carpet over the footbridge and a blanket to lay on, etc. Put the dog firmly in place and make sure it doesn't end up under the crew's feet.
3. Inform the charter company
Arrange it with the charter company in advance to avoid unnecessary problems. Not all companies allow dogs on board. Or some differentiate according to the size of the dog. And be prepared for special fees. Most often it is a lump sum for example, 10 euros per day or you have to pay twice the transit log (final cleaning).
Before you choose your sailing boat, please contact us and we will find the right boat and company for you and your pet.
4. What to do about walking the dog
Taking your dog for a walk to do it's business is the biggest pitfall on a boat. A dog, unlike a cat, is not likely to learn to go in a special place. It is therefore advisable to plan frequent stops on the mainland every 3 to 5 hours and to limit the anchorage to the wild. If your dog is already an adventurer, a water lover and can move about on a dinghy, you can even head to the nearest mainland from a romantic bay.
You can also see if your dog will use a special place or strip of artificial grass at home before sailing. Maybe the dog will surprise you and get used to this place.
5. Protect your dog from heat and discomfort
Ensure that there is always a shady area on board for your pet to rest and cool down. Don't forget to have access to fresh water – choose a stable bowl, so that water does not splash around in the waves and the bowl does not roll around the boat.
Beware of overheating and dehydration. If you need to cool the dog, do not soak it, but cool its legs and groin. Include basic medicines for the dog – such as for nausea or disinfection in case of injury. If your dog suffers from chronic problems, such as of the ears or eyes, pack certified drops or medications. You can also consult a veterinarian.
6. Check regulations and vaccinations
Check the regulations in the country where you'll be sailing as well as the countries you'll be passing through. In every country, the rules are different – in some places they require compulsory vaccination or regular deworming, elsewhere quarantine. Find out whether dogs can run freely there without a lead. Of course make sure they have a valid vaccination card or "passport".
And what conditions apply, for example, when travelling with a dog to Croatia? In Croatia, the dog must be microchipped (tattoos are not recognized in Croatia), the dog must have a European passport and a valid rabies vaccination confirmed in the passport (including the duration of the vaccination). Vaccination must take place at least 21 days prior to travel and the dog must already be chipped when vaccinated.
7. Pack toys and food
Think ahead on how to entertain the dog during your voyage. The dog will play on the beach and in the water, but on board it should have plenty of it's favourite toys so you can concentrate on sailing and driving the yacht. Take advantage of interesting places on the mainland for a longer walk.
Pack plenty of food and snacks, your favourite brands may not be available on holiday.
A few more tips to end with:
- Don't get stressed - when you are calm, the dog will be calm also.
- Bring your dog's favourite blanket and lay it down on board straight away. This will help it adjust quickly.
- Plan your route at home, divide it into shorter sections, think where you will be anchored and what you can do together on land.
As you can see, there is no need to go on holiday without your dog. If you count on a slower holiday pace and cruise in quieter waters with more frequent stops, it should be easy.
And where to go with your dog? Try a cruise around the Croatian coast. It is sufficiently rugged, with many opportunities for mooring and walking on the mainland.
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