Boat-friendly pets: A success story
Boat-friendly pets: A success story

Discover why choosing the right pet for your boat and properly preparing them for life at sea is essential for a successful and enjoyable sailing adventure with your furry friend.

Boat-friendly pets: A success story

Sailing the open seas with your family is an incredible experience, but for many, the journey wouldn’t be complete without their beloved pets. In this article, we’ll explore the world of boat-friendly pets, sharing success stories and offering practical advice for those looking to bring their furry (or not-so-furry) friends along for the adventure.

Table of Contents

Why consider a pet on board?

For many families, pets are an integral part of their lives, providing companionship, love, and even a sense of security. When embarking on a sailing adventure, it’s only natural to want to include your pets in the experience. Pets can also provide a sense of comfort and familiarity for children, helping them adjust to their new life at sea.

In addition to the emotional benefits, pets can also serve practical purposes on a boat. For example, dogs can be trained to help with tasks such as retrieving items from the water or even assisting with docking. Cats, on the other hand, can help keep the boat free of rodents and other pests.

Choosing the right pet for your boat

Not all pets are well-suited for life on a boat, so it’s essential to carefully consider which type of pet will be the best fit for your family and your vessel. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a boat-friendly pet:


Larger pets, such as big dogs, may struggle to adapt to the confined spaces of a boat. Smaller pets, like cats, small dogs, and even birds, are generally better suited for life on board.


Some pets are more adaptable and easygoing than others. Look for a pet with a calm, friendly demeanor that is not easily stressed or prone to anxiety.

Swimming ability

While not all pets will need to be strong swimmers, it’s a good idea to choose a pet that is comfortable in the water and can swim if necessary. This is especially important for dogs, as they may need to swim to shore for bathroom breaks or in case of an emergency.

Prey drive

Pets with a strong prey drive, such as certain dog breeds or cats, may be more likely to chase after wildlife or become fixated on birds and other creatures. This can be problematic on a boat, as it may lead to your pet accidentally falling overboard or becoming injured.

Preparing your pet for life at sea

Once you’ve chosen the right pet for your boat, it’s essential to properly prepare them for their new life at sea. Here are some steps to help your pet adjust to their new environment:

Gradual introduction

Introduce your pet to the boat slowly, allowing them to explore and become familiar with their new surroundings. Start with short trips and gradually increase the duration as your pet becomes more comfortable.


Proper training is crucial for ensuring your pet’s safety and well-being on board. Teach your pet basic commands, such as “stay,” “come,” and “leave it,” to help them navigate their new environment safely. For dogs, consider enrolling them in a water safety course or teaching them to wear a life jacket.

Establish routines

Pets thrive on routine, so establish a consistent schedule for feeding, bathroom breaks, and exercise. This will help your pet feel more secure and comfortable in their new environment.


Expose your pet to a variety of experiences, such as different types of weather, boat noises, and other animals, to help them become more adaptable and confident.

Safety considerations

Keeping your pet safe on board is a top priority. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

Life jackets

Invest in a high-quality life jacket designed specifically for your pet. Ensure it fits properly and is comfortable for your pet to wear.

Tethers and harnesses

Consider using a tether or harness to secure your pet while on deck, especially in rough weather or when docking. This can help prevent accidents and keep your pet safe.


Inspect your boat for potential hazards, such as exposed wires, sharp objects, or toxic substances, and take steps to pet-proof these areas.

Emergency plan

Develop an emergency plan that includes your pet, such as how to evacuate them in case of a fire or how to retrieve them if they fall overboard.

Pet care and maintenance

Caring for a pet on a boat requires some extra planning and consideration. Here are some tips for keeping your pet happy and healthy at sea:

Food and water

Ensure you have an adequate supply of your pet’s food and fresh water on board. Consider using non-spill bowls to minimize messes.

Bathroom breaks

Plan for regular bathroom breaks for your pet, either by training them to use a designated area on the boat or by scheduling stops at pet-friendly marinas or anchorages.


Ensure your pet gets plenty of exercise, either through playtime on the boat or by taking them ashore for walks and exploration.

Veterinary care

Keep a well-stocked pet first aid kit on board and familiarize yourself with basic pet first aid. Research pet-friendly marinas and anchorages with access to veterinary care in case of emergencies.

Success stories

Many families have successfully incorporated pets into their sailing adventures, proving that with proper planning and care, pets can thrive on board. Here are a few inspiring success stories:

Bailey the boat cat

Bailey, a Siamese cat, has been living on a boat with his family since he was a kitten. His owners credit his adaptable nature and love of adventure for his success as a boat cat. Bailey even has his own Instagram account where you can follow his adventures.

Tasha the sailing dog

Tasha, a Labrador Retriever, has been sailing with her family for over a decade. She’s an excellent swimmer and has even been trained to help with docking. Tasha’s family believes that her calm demeanor and love of the water make her the perfect boat dog.

Mango the parrot

Mango, a colorful parrot, has been living on a boat with his family for several years. His owners have created a secure, comfortable space for him on board, complete with perches and toys. Mango’s ability to mimic boat noises and entertain the family with his antics make him a beloved member of the crew.

In conclusion, with careful planning, preparation, and consideration, it’s possible to successfully incorporate pets into your family’s sailing adventure. By choosing the right pet, ensuring their safety and well-being, and providing proper care and maintenance, you can create a fulfilling and enjoyable experience for both your family and your pet.