03 Aug 2012
Dogs are generally a go-everywhere pet, so it’s not surprising to see them boating, enjoying a great summer day with their best human pals. What could be better to a dog than being aboard a boat with the wind blowing in his face, bringing scads of scents into his fine-tuned nostrils, playing king of the world as he guards his vessel? Then when the air starts to swelter, the crew pulls the boat into a cove for a refreshing dive and dog paddle in the cool water. Doggie heaven!
Cats, on the other paw, you wouldn’t think of as being the boating type. Cats generally detest travel and hate water. Yet, cats have a century’s old tradition of sailing the seas, keeping the rat and mice populations under control. Some people who love both cats and cruising have found that the two can mix quite well. What could be better to a cat than to lounge in the sun on a boat she has marked as her own, being admired by all?
Dogs boat on the lake, cats cruise the ocean
Dogs and cats can make excellent companions aboard boats. A dog is generally better suited for shorter adventures, such as a day on the lake or a weekend outing. Cats are generally better suited for extended travel, cruising the ocean. Why? Dogs tend to adapt to new environments more readily. But, until you train a dog to “go” on board, you’ll have to bring your boat to land a few times a day to allow your dog to relieve himself. Cats are less likely to enjoy a new environment, much less the car ride to get there. However, once a cat is on board a boat, and acclimates herself to the environment, she can be happy there indefinitely. And, she’ll use a litter box just like at home.
Choosing a Pet for Boating and Pet Safety Aboard
Diana Jessie, author of Cruising with Your Four-Footed Friends, offers some valuable advice for those seeking to bring pets on their boating trips. The most important advice is to make sure you bring the right pet. Often, when people have the time and means for a long cruise, they are at retirement age, and their pets may be older, too. A senior pet may not adapt very well. If your pet is not enjoying the trip, it’s kinder to leave him on land with a loving caretaker. If you plan to spend much of your time at sea, it’s wise to choose a pet specifically to be your shipmate. Puppies and kittens who are raised on a boat think life afloat is the way life is.
Pet safety aboard
Diana Jessie also strongly recommends practicing for an emergency before taking your boat out with a pet aboard. Dogs should have a life vest or PFD (personal floatation device) just like all human passengers. Dogs don’t need to wear them all the time, but you should practice putting the PFD on your dog both in and out of water, so you can do it quickly.
She does not recommend PFDs for cats, since even those made for the smallest dogs don’t fit a cat well, and they limit a kitty’s movement. Cats should have all their claws, as these can be their lifesavers on board. Jessie trains her cats for self-rescue by hanging a towel off the boat, and teaching her cats to climb it. If her cats were ever to fall overboard, they know to swim to the towel and climb to safety.
Training Your Dog or Cat for Boating
As with all new experiences, your pet may need a little time to get comfortable aboard a boat. Don’t plan to take your pet out cruising the first time he encounters your boat. Let your pet climb aboard and sniff around. Give your pet time to get accustomed to the way the boat feels on the water. You’ll know your dog or cat is relaxed enough when he decides to take a nap. Allow the nap to happen. This teaches your pet it’s okay to relax on the boat, it’s a safe place. Once your pet is relaxed, take him out for a short run to get him used to the motion. If your boat has a loud motor, make sure someone is holding your pet when starting it, as this may cause a mad scramble to get away. The first time boating should be short and sweet.
Why bring a dog or cat on boating trips?
People who cruise say having a pet on board is an extra responsibility, but the payoff is well worth it. A dog or cat is as wonderful of a companion on the water as on land. Pets provide friendship and added safety. Their keen senses of hearing and smell have saved many boaters from disaster, by alerting their humans to other vessels or objects in their path. Those who cruise to foreign lands find that pets help them get to know people more easily. People tend to be friendlier to you when you have a furry little ambassador to help break the ice.
Read more tips at http://www.petcentric.com/