Yorkshire terriers aren't particularly known as water dogs, but they're small enough not to take up much room on board a boat. Because they are small, they won't make much of a splash if they fall overboard, so you need to keep a careful eye on them.
If you are boating on water with even small waves, a Yorkie that falls in will quickly disappear from view. She may be swimming gamely, but you won't be able to see where she is. To avoid this, keep a watchful eye on your Yorkie, and consider using a device, such as a bell attached to the dog, to help you know where she is at all times.
Getting Acclimated to a Boat
Plan on taking several short outings so you can assess your Yorkie's reaction to traveling by boat. Some dogs suffer from seasickness just as some people do, and the same medications help them both. Get the appropriate dose of Dramamine or Merazine from your veterinarian.
Also get your Yorkie accustomed to wearing a life vest. Most pet life-preservers are orange, semi-rigid jackets with a handle on top over the back for ease in plucking the dog out of the water. Of course your dog can swim, but the life vest is easy to see, will help you lift her back into the boat, and will keep her afloat if for some reason rescue is delayed. You might also want to consider putting up safety netting between the stanchions around the boat. That way, if your Yorkie loses her footing in rough seas, she won't just slide overboard.
Many dogs don't like walking down the gangways at marinas, or stepping into a moving boat. Your Yorkie is small enough that you can solve that by carrying her on board.
Longer Boat Trips
Once you've confirmed that your Yorkie can travel happily by boat, you may want to make some longer trips. This raises two major issues for your dog: boredom and relieving himself.
If you're sailing close to land or between nearby islands, stop and take your Yorkie ashore several times a day if possible. Many waterfront towns and cities have guest boat tie-ups somewhere along their shores. State parks along the coast often have their own docking facilities. Avail yourself of these amenities, and let your Yorkie have a good walk on dry ground.
Most marinas welcome well-behaved dogs. Be sure your Yorkie lives up to that designation. Don't let him bark excessively, especially later at night, and don't let him urinate on other people's possessions. If your boating takes your farther from shore, you'll have to provide somewhere for your dog to eliminate on board, and teach him to use it. You can utilize any of the choices you have at home, as described in Chapter 7 — newspaper, a litter box, piddle pads, or even a strip of grass.
Saltwater dries out your Yorkie's skin and coat, so you may want to give your dog a rinse in fresh water often, and spray on some coat conditioner. If your Yorkie will be taking a lot of saltwater spray, you might also want to invest in some doggie goggles to protect his eyes from the salt.
Stainless steel food and water dishes that are weighted at the bottom are unbreakable and will tend to stay where you put them. Special plastic travel water bowls are constructed with a rim that curves in or a lid with a hole in the middle, both to keep the water from sloshing out. These are good choices for boat travel with your Yorkie.
Finally, bring some toys to occupy your Yorkie on board. Food puzzle toys are good self-entertainment. Fetch opportunities are rather limited on a boat, but your Yorkie may enjoy “killing” some favorite toy. And any birds or fish going by can provide plenty of viewing enjoyment.