Most dogs love water and will enjoy a day at the lake or on a boat just as much as you do. They may find it challenging to clamber onto the dock that they jump off, though, and if you want to avoid them getting covered in mud as they scramble up a dirt bank, a ramp is essential.
Fortunately, there are many dog water ramp ideas floating around that you can try. You can add these to your at-home dock or keep them with your boat for a portable option that you can use anywhere.
The 3 DIY Dog Water Ramp Plans
1. DIY Dock and Boat Ramp by Halifax Dogventures
Halifax Dogventures has a great idea for an affordable dog ramp that you can use on your boat and to help your dog clamber up onto the dock. It’s easy to put together, so it won’t be long until you can take it out on the water with you.
Before you start, gather your supplies so you won’t have to run around finding everything. This plan only requires a few essentials that you can buy from your local hardware store or that you might already have on hand.
- 2 thick pool noodles
- 3 skinny pool noodles
- Rubber anti-fatigue floor mats
- Zip ties
- 2 large carabiners
- 6 feet of rope
- Box cutter
Secure the Mats
This ramp plan is actually upside down so your dog benefits from the non-slip surface on the bottom of the mats. Once you’ve tied the mats together with zip ties to the size that you want, secure the pool noodles to the top side of the mat, and flip the whole thing over. Remember to trim the ends of the zip ties before you use the ramp.
Measure the Dock or Boat Ladder
This ramp design fastens to most boat or dock ladders, but you might need to adjust it for extra security. Measure the width of the ladder on your dock or boat so you can cut the top of the ramp to fit. You’ll need a sharp knife or box cutter and something hard to press down on. You might need a longer mat for some boats.
Use Rope and Carabiners
While you can connect the carabiners directly to the mat, the rubber alone isn’t sturdy enough to stay secure without tearing. Weave rope through the holes in the rubber mat, tie it off, and secure the carabiners to the loops of rope instead of the mat. This will provide extra stability and still enable you to move the ramp wherever you need it.
2. DIY Pool or Dock Ramp from Eric Hurst
Designed to attach to the side of a dock or a pool, this wooden ramp is reliable and designed for sturdiness, which makes it great for big dogs. It takes a bit more work to put together than the previous idea, but it’s a good way to use up scrap materials. This one’s also easier to adjust to suit the weight of your dog.
If you don’t have scrap material from other projects on hand, this project can be pricey. If you don’t mind spending the money, though, you can make quite the stylish and effective ramp.
- Exterior carpeting
- 2 empty plastic gas cans
- Zip ties
- Metal ring attachments and brackets
- Pool noodle
Although this design uses exterior carpet, your dog will find it easier to climb up if they have something to dig their claws into. Make small rolls with the leftover carpet, and attach them at intervals along the ramp as treads.
While the previous design relied on pool noodles to float, this plan uses large, empty gas cans. If you don’t have any clean ones, you can buy them from most hardware stores or supermarkets.
Make sure both gas cans are empty and have lids. When you make the ramp, you want to make sure it’s wide enough to accommodate both gas cans on the underside — you can secure them in place with zip ties. Take the time to field test this design to ensure that it floats enough for your dog. Adjusting the buoyancy is a simple matter of adding water to the gas cans.
You can use this design for pools, but it works best fixed to the tie-off points on boat docks. Use metal rings and rope to secure the ramp to a strip of 2×4. You can also protect the dock — or poolside — by using a pool noodle for padding.
While it’s not the lightest ramp to move around, the design does provide you the freedom to move it between docks if you frequently boat in different places.
3. DIY Dock Ramp by Cottage Life
If you like the idea of the previous ramp idea but don’t need to move it around as much, this dock ramp is simple and easy to fix in one place. It’s also great if you want to use any leftover materials from making a boat dock or if you don’t have exterior carpet.
Sturdy and waterproof, this design requires a few simple supplies that you might have on hand already or are easy to get from your local hardware store.
- 4-inch PVC pipe and caps
- PVC cement
- Pool noodles
- 1×2 strips
- 3-inch strap hinge
- Deck boards
- Stainless-steel screws
- Galvanized hangar strapping
Building the Framework
Before you worry about fixing the deck boards in place, you need to start with the framework. Using 2x4s, create a simple ramp framework. For extra stability, add cross beams between the sidebars. Attach the hinges that you’ll use to secure the ramp to the dock on one end and the PVC pipe to the other. Add the deck boards on the top, and secure them in place with nails or screws.
Adjust the length of the ramp based on the size of your dog and your dock.
The PVC pipe is important to help the ramp float when your dog uses it. Remember to seal the caps in place with PVC cement before you use the ramp. While you can use zip ties to secure the pipe, a heavy-duty hangar strap is lighter and more secure, albeit slightly more expensive.
Adding the Rungs
Similar to the previous idea, this ramp uses rungs to help your dog climb up. Instead of rolled-up carpet, this one relies on 1×2 strips of wood. Place them at intervals along the deck boards fixed to the ramp frame. Remember to make sure there are rungs along the entire length of the ramp, including the end that goes in the water.
How Steep Is Too Steep for a Dog Ramp?
The size of your dog ramp depends on several things, including your dog’s breed, weight, age, and where you intend to use the ramp. You should make the ramp long enough that there is plenty of space beneath the surface of the water for your dog to climb on it.
Getting the buoyancy right is important too. Large dogs weigh more than their smaller counterparts and will push the end of the ramp down as they climb up, which will make the ramp steeper for them to climb. On the other hand, small dogs might struggle to climb up if they’re too light to push the end of the ramp down.
You need to make the ramp light enough to float but heavy enough that your dog can climb it easily without sinking.
If your dog spends a great deal of time jumping off docks into lakes and rivers, a good ramp will help them climb back onto dry land — and avoid all the mud on the river banks. These plans are simple to make and use supplies that you have on hand already or that are easy to find at your local hardware store.
Featured Image Credit: GoDog Photo, Shutterstock