How Do Dogs Take To Living On A Narrow Boat?

Phew! Things got a bit moody there for a minute didn’t they! Sorry about that everyone, but I do think it’s important once in a while to be honest about things, I like to be fun with a hint of factual in this blog, but the occasional bit of unpolished honest surely can’t hurt!

Continuing on the theme of the questions we still, or now get asked, today we’re going to talk dogs. You see when a lot of people find out about our boat life they’re surprised and interested, but then once people find out we have dogs too, we instantly get asked, what and they’re ok with the boat? So today we cover:

Are the dogs ok with the boat? They’re not falling in all the time and that?

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the two terrors of our lives, Rosie and Heidi. Rosie is now approaching 6 years old, Heidi is approaching 3 so whilst Heidi has spent exactly half of her life on land and water Rosie had 4.5 years on land, prior to the move aboard.


They quite honestly have taken to boat life better than we ever imagined, we were nervous moving from a big semi-detached with a decent garden to a 57ftx6ft narrowboat was going to be a big change to their worlds. They have in fact settled down much more in their new home, they are relaxed and comfortable. You will find Rosie out all day and night if you’d let her, on the front of the boat watching over her new watery home, Heidi loves the wood stove and will happily spend her life lay as close as is possible to it.


So have they fallen in? Heidi, once through her own stupidity, the boat was moored, she misjudged the gap and splash, being a hater of being cold and wet and she hasn’t done it since. Rosie, never, although on a recent cruise we wondered where she was only to find her stranded halfway down the gunnel.

Which brings us on to moving, Rosie is still a little unsure when we first set off, we think it’s the engine noise and slight vibration, she retreats to what we know as the ‘Rosie Cave’ her hidey hole under the sofa, after an hour or so she’s taken up her spot up front watching over the waterway ahead and warning of any approaching collies. Heidi, loves moving, so long as it’s sunny and she can sunbathe.

It did take a bit of getting used to for us all, it’s a smaller space, the room for movement is smaller, so there was the odd trodden on tail, and tripped over pup. To be honest there still is. The one benefit of this smaller space? Well they don’t have to employee the same level of cheese sensors as before, the smaller space allows for easier cheese detection! I mean really how do they do it?

Where do they sleep? We get asked this so often! When James is away they come to bed with me but don’t tell him! But believe it or not there is room for two dog beds, they’re only little pooches after all! But Rosie doesn’t care much for the beds, from the first day we moved aboard she found she could fit under the sofa, Heidi couldn’t, and therein the Rosie Cave was created. She retreats to it daily for her alone time, and we have to do a weekly amnesty moving the sofa to dig out the Rosie treasures she’s hidden back there, be it shoes, slippers, bottle tops, or chew toys.


We’re so happy that the move for them has proved so successful, and we have no idea what’s chilled them out so much, they’re walked for the same amount of time as they were when we were land locked. I often muse whether it’s being in the countryside meaning they are almost immediately off lead exploring rather than a 10 minute walk to the nearest off lead area. Or perhaps it’s having happier more relaxed humans around, we don’t know, but it certainly seems to be working.

James & Kirsty

A diary of live aboard life

One thought on “How Do Dogs Take To Living On A Narrow Boat?

  1. What a lovely article ~ we are leisure cruisers but like you have two dogs, Max & Monti (M&M) very lively Springers. Initially they were scared of the engine, vibration, etc but now enjoy a cruise at the stern where they take advantage of padded bench seats, their captain and the glorious countryside smells. I must admit though that I walk most of the towpath with them resulting in totally confused pooches when we return to bricks and mortar – they sit by the door with those big eyes trained on us ‘are we ready, can we go, is it time?’ I am truly, a dog slave.


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