6 Biggest Challenges of Dogs on Houseboats

November 2019 Multimedia Lauretta Williams Web Exclusive

You might think that houseboats and dogs wouldn’t mix, but while it can be challenging to live with a dog on your houseboat, there are ways to overcome those challenges. Here are a few of the biggest problems you’ll run into when you bring your furry friend onto a houseboat.

1.    Food and water supplies – don’t run out!

You may not need to stock up on fresh food and water that often, because you might be used to rationing it on a houseboat. There may be days where you simply eat less or drink less since you know it could be a while before you resupply. Your dog is not going to have as much self-control, and you’ll need to think about how being out in the hot sun affects his hydration levels. Your dog will need plenty of water and food for your houseboat outings, so be sure you are planning ahead. Always bring more than you think you need at first until you get a better idea of what your dog is going to use.

2.    Is your boat dog-friendly?

You may also have trouble keeping your boat dog-friendly. The design of the boat may not accommodate a place for the dog to run around, lie down in the shade or use a litter box. You can install a grass turf in a small area of the boat to give the dog an appealing place to relieve himself. You can also make your boat safer and more suitable for your dog by installing some nonslip mats and putting up canopies to provide shade. (Dogs become extremely anxious if they can’t stand without slipping.) With a few small changes, just about any boat can be made much more accommodating for your four-legged friend.

3.    Your dog will want to swim – but watch out for dangers

If you have a dog that is a good swimmer, then he will naturally want to jump in the water every now and then to cool off. You’ll have to train your dog to only jump in when you tell him too, because your dog may not know to watch out for bull sharks, which are quite common in shallow areas. Your dog also needs to be protected from tide waters and other dangers that he might not be able to sight on his own. It can help to give your dog opportunity to get into the water when it is safe, but you will need to teach him to stay out of the water until you give the command.

 4.    Have you got a safe way to transport your dog off the boat?

You may also run into the problem of transporting your dog in and out of the houseboat and back home, which may involve a car ride or plane ride. If it’s the latter, you’ll also need an airline approve pet carrier.

You’ll also want a way to keep the dog penned up and safe on the boat if there is a storm or if the water is extremely temperamental. A portable dog crate is a great way to do that, but you’ll want to get the right one- one that fits your dog’s needs, and that is comfortable and secure enough.

5.    Proper medical care

You never know what to expect when you go out on the water, and things can get even more complicated when you decide to bring your dog along. When a medical issue pops up, you want to be able to get your dog help as soon as possible. You should know where the nearest vet’s office is and have some way to contact the veterinarian. You may want to keep a list of vets for the areas that you travel, along the coast. Also pay close attention to any changes in your dog’s health or behavior that could indicate he is unwell.

6.    Poor adjustment

Some dogs simply don’t adjust well to being on a boat 24/7. You can schedule regular shore breaks to give your dog a chance to run around somewhere, to take a potty break if he isn’t used to utilizing a litter box and to just be off the boat and somewhere that feels safe for him. Over time, your dog may adjust better to the boat life, but be ready at first to break up your water time with some land excursions just to make things easier on the dog.

Final thoughts

You may run into some problems here and there if your dog adopts your houseboat lifestyle, but there is a solution for every one of them. Talk to your vet if your dog is having trouble adjusting and get some advice from other dog owners who take their furry friends on their houseboats to see how they cope with the same issues.



This guest post is written by Lauretta who runs PawMaw, the site that connects dogs to their rightful owners.

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