How To Potty Train Your Dog On A Boat

Training Your Dog To Pee On A Boat. 

If you live on a boat or frequent one enough to bring your furry companion along, you are going to find yourself looking for the best method to let your dog relieve themselves while underway or on the water. This is something I had to face when we decided to be on our boat full time a couple years ago so I thought I would share what we did. Hopefully it helps someone here as we were e pretty lost at first on how people handle this situation.

Dogs typically love being on boats so acclimating them to your boat shouldn't be very difficult. First thing you need to do is get your dog comfortable with your boat. Do this by introducing them to the boat while on land or at a dock with calm water. If you have a large dog that you find difficulty in picking up, you will want a ramp to make things easier on everyone. This keeps stress levels low and will faster acclimate them more quickly to being comfortable on a boat. Taking a dog to shore every couple of hours can be very inconvenient so the best solution is to teach your dog to pee or poo on your boat. Don't worry, there are ways to do this without ruining your boat or making a mess. The best solution to let your dog go potty on the boat is with carpet training. 

How To Teach Your Dog To Pee On The Boat

Anyone who has a dog knows their inherent need to sniff where other dogs have relieved themselves. This is a natural instinct and is going to be the key to training your dog to pee on the boat. Almost every single boat that has a dog on board has a designated area for the dog to use. In this area, there is usually a washable pet potty mat. These are made out of durable, washable materials like astro turf. Some people even use fake grass from the hardware store. 

Your dog might not know what to do right away so here are a few tips that might work. Take the fake grass square that you've designated as their place and take it with you on your next walk. Place it in the spot where they usually pee. You are trying to get them to pee on the mat to scent it. Even better if you can get someone else's dog to pee on the mat. As soon as your dog does pee on the mat, praise them lavishly and offer some treats as a reward. Take the grass and put it on your boat in the designated area and your dog will learn that this is the one place they can use to pee. If guest dogs come aboard, they too will understand that this is the dog restroom based on the scent. 

Your dog might not understand that this new piece of carpet is what they should be peeing on. If you have any friends with dogs on their boats, ask them if they use a carpet or a pad. If they do, you can ask to place your new carpet underneath their carpet for a few days to attract a scent. You could also try "scenting" the carpet yourself to try to entice your dog to go there as well. This works with some dogs but not all. You can also try taking a branch or a piece of ground that your dog has already used and placing it on top of the mat temporarily. This may attract your dog to continue to use this location. 

Make Sure To Use a Consistent Phrase 

Even when your dog is ashore, teach them a unique phrase to let them know that this is a good time and place to do their business. Choose a phrase that they won't hear often. One that they won't get distracted or confused if they hear it said by someone else. Make sure to say this phrase only when its time. You can work on this technique anywhere and not just on your boat. 

How To Keep The Potty Pad Clean 

A dirty pad is going to make the whole boat smell and create an unpleasant experience for everyone. Also remember that your dog's sense of smell is much better than yours. What we do is tie a line to the corner of the pad. As long as you dunk the pad after each use or twice a day you will avoid any foul smell. We tie the other end of the line to the stanchion to keep from losing it while dunking it. Every week or so I use a natural cleaning solution and let it soak on the mat for a few minutes as well. 

The bottom line here is to use your dogs natural instincts in your favor to train them to go potty on your boat. Best of luck and happy sailing!


  • This is an awesome idea for those long days on the water. Luckily we are always pretty close to a shore. Any tricks for a male dog that lifts his leg? We have one that may need some sort of a backsplash lol.

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