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  • Katie

Everybody Poops

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

So, you're finally fulfilling your dream of sailing the world and your favorite sidekick is coming with. If you've found your way to Deep Blue Heeler, you are probably looking for some tried and true methods of sailing with your pet.

Logan entered my life when he was 8 weeks old and has lived on a sailboat basically his entire life. This made for a pretty easy transition into cruising when he was 3 years old. That's not to say there were some definite learning curves and many lessons learned from mistakes made half way around the world. I hope that you can glean some knowledge from what we have experienced so that you don't have to stress about some of the avoidable obstacles we ran into.

Bathroom Essentials

If you are a dog owner, I bet the number one question you get asked is, "but where does your dog go to the bathroom?". It's a great question and it's also a huge safety issue! As a service dog trainer, I was used to teaching my dogs in training to go to the bathroom on command. I taught this to Logan and boy does it make life easier. There are many sailors who will let their dogs go to the bathroom on deck, but I find that to be stinky and messy. I want to know how often my dog is going to the bathroom and what number 1 and number 2 look like so that I can be on top of their health.

It is important to teach your dog routine on a boat. Routine makes dogs happy. If you can stick to the same routine you have while you are close to land, the transition to large ocean transits will be a cake walk.

Ok, ok—so what do we do for Logan? We use an old towel and a green AstroTurf mat on the windward side of the boat while underway--close to the cockpit. You can also get a fake grass mat and a tray to collect the pee ( ). He poops on the mat and actually pees into a yogurt container. I was getting sick of risking my life to get a bucket

of water to rinse off the deck or rinse off the towel and mat after every use, so I got an old yogurt container and he pees in that on command and we then throw it over board. Understandably this would be much more difficult for a female, so a mat will have to do. But you can use a small flat tray and plat a mat on that to catch any urine the towel and mat does not absorb.

If you are having trouble getting your dog to go to the bathroom on the boat, wait it out. Make sure they have plenty of water to drink (but don’t overdo it as it can make them sick), and ultimately, they will have to go. Always reward them when they go. I highly recommend practicing as you do not want your dog to hold it for so long that they develop a urinary tract infection (UTI). I typically am not concerned if Logan hasn’t pooped for a couple days, because he will.

Finally, we have puppy pee pads just in case the weather is unsafe for him to go on deck. He doesn’t really like going inside the boat, but having a special pad for the occasion makes it easier. The bonus of these pads is that I use them when filling up the fuel tank or changing oil, as they absorb these liquids well, with little, to no mess.

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