If you want the best stuff, ask someone who lives on a tiny boat.
Here’s my list for the best gifts for boat dogs. I bet your dog will love them. And so will you.
Best Toys For Boat Dogs
What’s life without toys? Here are three of Honey’s favorites.
Some of the links below are affiliate links.
Tuffy No Stuff Ultimate Ring
Honey has had her Tuffy No Stuff Ultimate Ring for so many years, I can’t remember where we got it. She loves it and it was one of her few “land” toys to make it on board the boat.
Why It’s Great: Exciting squeakies are encased in the layers making it a toy Honey enjoys playing with by herself as much as with us. We like to roll it on the ground for Honey to retrieve. Then we tug it with her.
Is It Great For Your Dog: Honey does not destroy her toys although she is aggressive in her play. Some Amazon reviewers stated that this toy was not up to their destructo-dogs. It’s sturdy but, like most toys, dogs who love to “kill” their toys will probably be able to destroy this one too.
Kong Tails Tug Toy
The KONG Tails Dog Toy, Large, Red/Blue is another toy that made the cut when we moved on board. This is probably Honey’s favorite tug toy and one she has used with her foster dog playmates.
The handle makes it easy to toss and the hard rubber Kong in the center gives it an unpredictable bounce.
Why It’s Great: One of the tails has a squeaky which is a nice surprise when Honey grabs it during play. With a handle on one side and the tails on the other, you can play tug safely with your pup while keeping your hands away from teeth.
Is It Great For Your Dog: Occasionally, if we let go of the toy while playing tug, Honey gets hit in the head by the Kong. You might want to avoid it if your dog can’t absorb a few soft blows to the head with a toy.
Amazon reviewers also claim that aggressive chewers can also destroy this toy.
Thrift Store Stuffy
Honey has an oral fixation.
Every time we return to the boat or someone visits, Honey picks up one of her favorite stuffies. They do occasionally end up in the middle of an impromptu game of tug and suffer from torn seams.
Luckily, every thrift store has tons of stuffed animals for bargain prices. Make sure you buy toys that don’t have parts that can fall off and become a choking hazard.
Why It’s Great: They’re cheap, cheap, cheap. Any Honey loves using stuffies as pillows and pacifiers.
Is It Great For Your Dog: Once again, if your dog kills toys, these won’t last.
That said, they’re cheap to replace. And as long as you aren’t worried about your dog swallowing stuffing, they are a fun and easy way to amuse your dog.
Best Travel Accessories For Boat Dogs
We’re always on the go. We do, after all, live on a sailboat.
Honey always wants to go with us. Here are a few of our favorite things that keep Honey by our side no matter where we go.
Alcott Weekender Leash
Honey prefers to go leash-less. But since that’s not an option, I appreciate a good leash.
The Alcott Adventure Weekender Leash has some nice features for our travel with Honey. The handle has a clip, allowing us to quickly tether her to a chair leg on a restaurant patio or to the cockpit when we’re loading groceries on board.
The handle is also padded, which feels surprisingly good on a long walk. Especially when your dog spots a squirrel that needs chasing.
Why It’s Great: Honey often goes with us when we do errands or eat out. It’s really handy to be able to quickly clip her leash to something for security while my hands are busy elsewhere.
Is It Great For Your Dog: You have to be careful to click the clip on the handle evenly. It can jam if you’re in a hurry and don’t slide it in properly. It might be an issue if your dog is pulling and jumping while you’re trying to attach her leash to a park bench while you get her food and water out.
Kurgo Surf N Turf Jacket
Of course a boat dog needs a good life jacket. But although Honey has used this jacket for over 3 years (and it still looks great), we only recently found a new use for it.
The jacket has a zipper at the back. Just remove the floatation inside the jacket and now you have a nifty rain jacket—hence the name, Surf N Turf.
When we lived in a house, I didn’t worry about Honey getting wet. She’d dry off eventually. But now, I’ll do anything to keep extra moisture out of the boat.
And having one jacket that Honey can wear two ways is a great space saver, for anyone.
Why It’s Great: The jacket is designed to keep a dog’s head out of the water, even if they are tired or unconscious (something we never hope to witness first hand). The sturdy handle gives you an easy way to pull your dog onto a boat or dock if they go overboard.
Is It Great For Your Dog: I have not found any downsides to this jacket. But fit is important. Measure carefully before you order to make sure it is a good fit for your dog.
Order your dog’s jacket from Kurgo.
Buddy Bowl Spillproof Water Bowl
Before we bought the Buddy Bowl Spillproof Water Bowl, Honey had to ask us for a drink when we were sailing. She’d stare at me while I tried to figure out exactly what she wanted.
Or worse, we’d place a water bowl on the cockpit floor just to step in it when handling lines or going into the cabin for a snack.
The Buddy Bowl has a cover that gives dogs enough room to lap up water with their tongues while being virtually spill proof.
If it works on a sailboat, just think of how great it would be in the back of your car or anywhere in the house you find yourself stepping into the water bowl.
Why It’s Great: It really is spill proof in nearly every situation.
Is It Great For Your Dog: I struggle a little bit to take the cover off the bowl myself. If you don’t have a strong grip, you may want to have a strong friend to help you fill and clean it.
Yummy Treats for Boat Dogs
On board, treats aren’t just fun. They’re really important.
I like having small treats in my Outward Hound Treat Pouch when we go out for a walk. It allows me to take advantage of quick training opportunities and gives me something to toss if we meet strange dogs off-leash.
What are Honey’s favorite treats?
Cloud Star Tricky Trainers
Liver-flavored Tricky Trainers are a great training treat. They’re stinky enough to be attractive while not making me totally unacceptable to strangers.
Best of all, Honey loves them.
Why It’s Great: They’re a nice texture and very small. They are also grain-free.
Is It Great For Your Dog: Food is a very personal decision. Check the ingredients list to make sure they’re a good match for your dog.
Dehydrated Salmon Treats
They have a nice strong smell and Honey was captivated by them.
Why It’s Great: They have a dry texture and a strong smell.
Is It Great For Your Dog: They are very expensive. It might be worth trying a less expensive dried fish treat first to make sure your dog likes them.
When I want a highly motivating treat to teach Honey a new skill, I rely on liverwurst.
It’s one of those really tasty (and safe) dog treats you can find in every grocery store. It’s human grade. It’s dirt cheap. And dogs love it!
Honey would do almost anything for a bit of liverwurst.
Why It’s Great: You can buy it everywhere. It is a great high-value treat.
Is It Great For Your Dog: It is very messy to handle. I find it works best to freeze it in small bits for training session.
Bonus: By the time the liverwurst is melting into a puddle, it’s probably time to end your training session.
Boat Dog Wish List
Everything on the list so far has passed the boat dog test: we use it and it’s worth having even in a small space.
But there are two items we’d love to have on board but just haven’t gotten yet.
Nina Ottoson Interactive Dog Game
Honey loves food toys. But we worried that we’d end up with dog treats and kibble clogging our bilge pump and sinking the boat.
So none of Honey’s favorites made the move.
I suspect that playing them together would be neat enough. And interactive food toys are a great way to tire out Honey’s brain when bad weather or rough seas keep us from giving her as much exercise at anchor.
Wooly Snuffle Feeding Mat
Since it would contain the mess, a Wooly Snuffle Mat seems like a great idea for a boat dog.
Heck, it seems like a great idea for any dog who likes foraging for his food and for his people who want a happy dog.
If you’re crafty, the Honest Kitchen blog shares a tutorial for making your own snuffle mat.
What do you think? Should we add our wish list items to the boat?
Why Boat Dogs Find The Best Gifts and Gear
It’s easy to fill all the space you have. It happens to all of us, no matter how minimal we try to be.
But once we moved onto a boat, we no longer had the luxury of filling space with things that aren’t useful. For one thing, when we sail, everything has to be battened down so it doesn’t go flying when we heel over or if we’re traveling in rough water.
For another, we can’t ever get one thing out of storage without moving whatever is in front of it.
So this year, when you’re tempted to celebrate gift giving holidays by buying a little something for your pupper, take the advice of Honey the Boat Dog.
Only buy what is useful and just right.
Your dog will be happy. And I bet you will be too.
(Don’t feel left out if you don’t celebrate Christmas. We also have a nifty gift guide for people and dogs at Hanukkah. The Thoughtful Gift Guide is also a good source for free, frugal, fair trade, cause-related and cool gifts for dogs and dog lovers.)
Your Turn: If you downsized tomorrow to move into a truly tiny space (like a boat), which of your dog’s favorite items would go with you?
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