Are Houseboats Pet Friendly? Things To Consider Before Bringing Them

Taking a pet on vacation is a must for many families! If you are planning on being on board a houseboat you probably wondered if bringing your pet on board would be safe for them as well as being ok to do. 

Are houseboats pet friendly? Pets can certainly be on a houseboat without any issues but how difficult it is depends on their temperament as well as other factors. If you have a hyper dog that loves jumping in the water a houseboat might not be the best place for him! 

There are a few different things you should consider before you take your pet on a houseboat for the first time. 

1. Their temperament 

Some pets are hyper, some are really calm. Some pets love the water, some pets look like they will drown if they get in. Some pets do well with change, others absolutely despise it. 

All of those and more should be determining factors on whether bringing your pet on a boat is a good idea. Many people bring their pets on their houseboat vacation and don’t have any issues. Others bring their pets and it ruins most of their vacation. Every animal is different! 

We had a dog for the last 9 years that grew up with our kids. He was calm, kind, and very loving but he absolutely hated when things changed! He wouldn’t eat when we weren’t at home. He was scared of everything.

 He would not have been a good dog to bring on board a boat because he would have been stressed out the entire week. 

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We just recently adopted a new dog that is a little over a year old. This dog is the exact opposite. He isn’t scared of anything. He runs laps in the yard, bounces on the trampoline with the kids and every appears to like vacuum cleaners! 

Despite his lack of fear he also wouldn’t be a good candidate to bring on board as he would probably spend most of the time running around crazy on deck or jumping into the water. 

For your pet to be a good fit on board the boat he/she would have to be somewhere between those two dogs before I could consider taking them on any boat. 

2. Your plans

What you are planning to do during the time on your boat should determine whether your pet should be brought along. If you plan on staying on board and reading the whole time and your pet is older then that might work out just fine. 

However, if you plan on reading books but your pet is hyper and needs lots of exercise to be happy, then a houseboat wouldn’t be a good place for them. 

Each person has a different idea what fun is to them so if you plan on bringing your pet on board make sure that the amount of activity that you plan on doing fits your pet well. 

3. Type Of Pet

There are a wide variety of different pets that people in America have so when you wonder if houseboats are pet friendly it can depend on what kind of pet you are talking about. 

The most common pets that people bring with them on vacations would be dogs and cats. Houseboats can be fine for both dogs and cats to be on board but it does come down to their temperament and your plans as mentioned above. 

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My family and I have had a dog since my wife and I got married about ten years ago. On our various trips over those ten years we have never taken our dog on vacation with us. 

That isn’t to say that taking a dog is a bad thing but our previous dog didn’t travel well and not having to worry about the needs of our dog made the vacation a bit more relaxing. 

For example, where is your pet going to go to the bathroom if you bring it on the houseboat? Does your pet get seasick? 

These sort of things are often not thought about if you have never taken your pet on a boat before. Often you won’t even know if your pet gets seasick until you are a day or two into your vacation and by that time it is too late to change plans. 

4. Pet Policies 

If you are renting a houseboat or borrowing it from someone you will need to know if they have any pet policies in place. Just like a house or hotel that you rent, a houseboat will have policies that will allow or not allow animals on board. 

Find out what those policies are before you even try and make a decision on whether to bring your pet. Some houseboat rental companies won’t allow pets for liability reasons while other cite allergy concerns for other renters or the boat’s owner. 

5. How Well Does Your Pet Get Along With Strangers

Some pets are amazing with other people who they aren’t familiar around while others are standoffish or even aggressive towards them. How your pet is around strangers is an important thing to consider before you bring them on your boat. 

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Even if you aren’t bringing any strangers on the trip your pet will still encounter many strangers while you are loading the boat, and even when you are anchored or docked. 

If your animal is one that gets aggressive or would chase someone even if they aren’t dangerous it still would be a good idea to not have them on board. When you think of aggressive animals you normally think of dogs but I have met quite a few aggressive cats and other pets as well, so just make sure that your animals are good with strangers or won’t go jumping off the boat to go meet a new person. 


Houseboats are most definitely safe for pets and pet friendly but taking your furry friend on board still might not be the best thing for them. Some important things to consider are their temperament, your plans, the type of pet, pet policies, and how well your dog gets along with other people. 

Even if your pet does not check every box that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring them but it does mean you should do some serious thinking before making that decision. Having a pet with you on your trip will be an extra inconvenience at the time when you are trying to get rid of stress so make sure that you are sure before you make a final decision. 

As always 

Happy boating 

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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