Travelling by boat with your dog

Living on the Isle of Wight, we are frequent travellers on the Wightlink ferry to get us to the mainland, so a lot of the following tips will be based on their awesome services (what can we say, we love them). However, they can easily be applied to other ferry/boat services. Whether it’s a 40 minute journey from Yarmouth (IOW) to Lymington on the car ferry, or a shorter 22 minute trip from Ryde (IOW) to Portsmouth using the foot passenger ferry, we’ve come up with some top tips to help you and your doggo out on any boat journey. 

Pet-specific Areas

What’s great about the Wightlink ferry is that they have designated pet areas! I’m sure we can all understand that not everyone is a lover of animals, might be allergic, or even afraid of them. This is why there are dedicated pet areas so we can relax with our doggos. Oscar and Henry love these areas, especially as they can make new friends! They typically sit on the floor or on our laps (they love to snuggle) whilst we enjoy a coffee from the café onboard. Dog-friendly areas aren’t just for dog owners… You’ll also find dog lovers in there. Believe us, the boys get a lot of attention!


We always bring collapsible bowls with us to use throughout the day, but if you forget, Wightlink provides water bowls! It’s always handy to bring your own though, as you never know where you’ll end up during the day, and other places might not be as accommodating. We love frequenting Gunwharf Quays to do some shopping, and they are super dog-friendly; there’s water bowls dotted around, the staff are really nice and love saying hi to the boys, and some even give them treats! If you haven’t been already, you should definitely add Gunwharf to your travel list. It’s only 20 minutes from the Island on the Fast Cat.

Walking Before The Journey

One of our top tips is to make sure you take your doggo for a walk outside before getting on the boat. Wightlink are very understanding—after all, accidents do happen—but it’s not exactly pleasant to see or smell, so make sure your doggo has a chance to pee! It’s better adding an extra half hour to the beginning of your journey just to let your dog run around outside, expel some of their energy, and relieve their bowels before getting on the boat. Don’t forget to bring poop bags just in case!

Dogs Staying In The Car

If you’re bringing your car and if your doggo is really nervous, you are welcome to leave them in the vehicle. However, once you’ve made your decision there’s no turning back! You are unable to go back to your car once the ferry is in motion. So if you intend to leave your dog napping in the backseat, make sure to crack open a window for them, as you won’t be allowed to check on them until the end of your journey. Don’t forget to turn the alarm off on your car too, to save your furry friend the headache of the car alarm. It’s a good idea to bring a toy or two for your doggo so they can keep themselves amused and help them to stay relaxed, whether they are staying in the car or coming on board with the humans. It’s worth mentioning that humans are not allowed to stay in the car.

Don’t Forget The Carpet!

You’re probably thinking “what?”. It sounds odd at first, but actually this can be really helpful for your dog! 

Sometimes they can feel really unsteady with the movement of the boat. If you bring a small piece of carpet or blanket for them to stand on, it can actually help to ground them and stop them from slipping over.

Don’t Take Off The Leash

Whilst it’s pretty safe to say most dogs don’t go jumping off boats, just like with humans, there’s always one oddball—and it could be your dog! Even if your doggo isn’t partial to flying through the air after a seagull, running around the boat wild and free isn’t exactly fun for your fellow passengers. Your doggo could end up going near another dog they shouldn’t and stressing them out, or they might end up hurting themselves or others. It’s best to keep them leashed and close to you.

We hope you find this information useful and your doggo learns to enjoy travelling! No matter where your travelling adventures take you, we hope it’s now a stress-free experience for everyone involved. 

If you are an Islander, we don’t need to tell you about Wightlink, but for mainlanders planning a trip to the Isle of Wight, check out their website.

Read our other blog posts on Dog-friendly travel:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *