More brave than happy...
There are two kinds of boaters who take their dogs on board: the first are those who enjoy themselves so much on board that they imagine that their dog will also enjoy living on the water; the others are those who love their dog so much that they don't want to part with it, not even for a day at sea. Dogs, on the other hand, follow the movement and express to their master an unshakeable attachment both at sea and on land...
Now, are they happy on the water? They're happy with their master. For the rest, dogs, which are the first animals domesticated by man, are land animals. Even though they swim very well, dogs, like cats, are only really comfortable on the floor of cows.
For those who are not convinced of this and who take their dogs to sea, let's talk about some ways to make crossings or even cruises and even trips, if not pleasant, at least bearable for them.
Dogs are prone to seasickness. Almost all of them, regardless of breed or sex and more or less depending on the subject. Like humans, they get used to it and usually rather quickly. We meet people who love boats but who are always a bit squeamish, all their life, even in light weather. A dog gets used to the sea quite quickly and rare are those who remain prone to seasickness for a long time.
It is advisable to bring the dog for trips of a few hours and to plan a route that allows you to disembark it for a few minutes at the first signs of nausea. Not always simple...
Dr Gilbert Schaffner, who began his career as a veterinarian in Douarnenez and devoted his free time to sailing between Cap de la Chèvre and Pointe du Raz, became interested in the subject at a time when sardine and lobster fishermen always took a dog on board: "Anti-seasickness wristbands have not proven effective in dogs. On the other hand, homeopathy seems to give results in certain subjects, those in whom pitching movements cause hyper-salivation. We can try 3 Borax granules. There is also nautamine, a rather powerful medicine that protects against vomiting. Be careful with the dosage. It is better to ask the pharmacist or the vet for advice. Nautamine has side effects, among others to promote sleep. And a dog that already sleeps a lot naturally can become lethargic. Other side effects include constipation and urinary retention".
Transition to address the major subject of the dog on board...
And indeed, the other problem of the dog on board is the natural needs. A dog begins to be clean a little before three months and controls his sphincters without accident from six months and up to 12 and even 13 years depending on the breed. The dog has to empty himself on board, at least every 12 hours, 14 hours at the most. By will, most dogs can restrain themselves for longer, but this willingness to stay clean is a behaviour that can lead to urinary infections and intestinal obstructions. Better a dog that doesn't mind than a dog that's too well-behaved and doesn't want to do on board, any more than he would in a room at home. He should be shown that he can relieve himself in a specific place, on a newspaper or a mop. It is a matter of education. Show him how? Well, by showing him! By urinating in front of him, you have understood well. He'll do as we showed him, where we showed him. This learning must begin on the ground. Take along newspapers or a mop already soaked with the smell of his urine. If the newspapers are fresh or the mop is clean, the dog will probably refrain from soiling it, because he has learned the good manners you have taught him. He wants to respect manners to the point of making himself sick... So set an example so that the dog sees the bridge as the garden and not as a sacred place like a room in the house. Show the dog where to go, but don't ask him to go into the wind. We're not there yet... When you get to the harbour or the beach, you're still not free to let the dog that's held back empty himself anywhere. If this should happen, take care not to leave any trace of his passage.
DOB (dog overboard)
On a boat, the dog is often the best swimmer. However, he is not safe, especially since he cannot anticipate a slightly violent gybe or a sudden change of course imposed by a wave that we did not see coming. The dog can fall into the water all the more quickly because, even if he is more stable than you on all four legs, he cannot hold on. It is essential that he is not only equipped with a lifejacket, but above all with a harness. Except at the quayside, the dog must not go at will on a boat, be it a luxury yacht or a fishing trip.
This is a reminder that the dog on board a boat is certainly surrounded by affection, but also by the sea. It's a magical, beautiful environment and whatever you want, but only for its master. It is also a hostile environment for the master and even more so for the dog.
No English for mutts
Pleasure craft with a dog on board are not accepted in UK ports. Yet the draconian rabies prevention legislation has been relaxed. But the provisions put in place on 1 January 2012 to end the quarantine do not apply to pleasure boaters.
A dog with its dog passport can be taken to Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, England or Scotland by merchant ships called ferries. But only if the passengers come by car. Pedestrians are not allowed to travel with their dogs. That is clear, and no exceptions are made.
Those who have planned to send their companion accompanied by the four-legged companion from Saint-Malo to Saint-Hélier by ferry and to meet them there to continue the cruise to the Channel Islands together on their own boat are completely wrong ...
Written by my friend, Jean-Yves Reguer, Judge of the Central Canine Society.