Best Dog Boat Ramps and Ladders

By: Peter Schoeman / Last Updated: 01/11/2022
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Best Dog Boat Ramps and Ladders

For some dogs, walks aren’t enough. Active dogs love unique exercises, such as swimming, to thrive. But swimming for dogs can be clumsy and difficult, and getting out of the water isn’t a breeze. Luckily, many dog owners have chosen the best dog boat ramp to help their pet get out of the water effortlessly. It’s the ideal product for any water-loving canine!

Best Dog Boat Ramp Options

If you’re new to boating with your pet, how will you know what type of ramp to choose? I’ve selected eight great products to help you narrow down your search. Each dog boat ramp is analyzed based on features, pros, and cons. 

Paws Aboard Doggy Boat Ladder

paws aboard dog ladder

The Paws Aboard Ladder and Ramp is made specifically for boat use. It’s a bright yellow dog boat ladder with small stair-like grooves to help your dog get up with ease. However, the steps don’t have a lot of grip to them, so they could be a little slippery for your furry friend. This pool ramp attaches to the back of the boat, preferably on the boat ladder.

It rests in the water, but might sink a little when heavy dogs climb it. It weighs 12 pounds, and it folds in half with handles on the side for easy transport. It can hold up to 150 pounds, and it should only be used for a dog, not a dog owner. It’s slightly adjustable if needed.

THE GOOD
  1. It’s easy to use
  2. It has small steps
  3. It folds up and has handles
  4. It’s adjustable
  5. It won’t rust
THE NOT SO GOOD
  1. The steps could be slippery
  2. It might not last long
  3. It could sink too much for heavy dogs

Dog Boat Ramp Buying Guide

Since dog paws can’t grab onto objects like human hands, they need a little help getting out of the water. Luckily, the best dog boat ramp can be life-changing for a great day on the water with your furry friends. But what is a pet ramp and how does it work?

What is a Dog Boat Ramp?

A dog boat ramp is any product that can help your pet climb in and out of the boat from lake water. Usually, they come in the form of ramps, stairs, or ladders. They can hook onto your boat and rest in the water. Many ramps can fold up when not in use.

Not every ramp for dogs is made for swimming purposes though. Small dogs, old dogs, and difficult dogs have problems climbing onto all sorts of things. Even large dogs could have difficulties climbing a boat dock or boarding ladder. So, as long as it’s waterproof, you can use any type of pet ramp for your boat. 

A pet ramp made for cars, couches, and beds are often great for boats too. However, if the ramp isn’t made specifically for boats, some adjustments might need to be made. For example, an added floatation device or a different type of attachment could help you modify a dog ramp to make it easier for boat use. A floating dog ramp is easier for dogs to use than one that sinks in the water. If you do need a ramp for your car or truck check out our article on the best boat ramps for trucks and cars.

Some families even make their own dog boat ramps. As long as your pet can safely get up and down it, then it’s serving its purpose. 

But dog ramps are often used for so much more than just boat transportation. Ramps can also be used for a dog pool, making it easier for your pet to get in and out of a dog dock or swimming pool. Any time your pooch is near the water, especially near a lake or ocean, it’s a good idea to make sure they have a way of staying safe.

How to Use a Dog Boat Ramp

Every ramp will function differently, but most will need to fold down and latch onto the boat somehow. Once it’s secure, your pet can simply walk up and down the ramp when needed. The best dog boat ramp should come with instructions on how to assemble and operate it.

In most cases, the trickiest part will be teaching your dog how to use it. If your pet has never used a dog ramp before, they might be scared to go up and down it. So, it can be a good idea to teach your pooch to walk up and down it on land before having them use it in the water. 

When training your dog, make sure the ramp is stable and bring your dog close to it. Use treats to guide them up the ramp. Start with baby steps though. First, reward them for putting their paw on the ramp. Then, for climbing partially up it. And finally, reward them when they make it to the top. Keep guiding your pet with treats until they feel safe with their doggy boat ramp.

Some dogs will understand how to use the ramp right away while others might struggle. Don’t give up on your dog, but instead, keep encouraging them. Dogs learn best from patience and repetition, so keep trying no matter how frustrating it seems.

Having your pet walk on the flattened ramp before placing it on an incline can also help with the transition. Do what will make things easier for your dog and encourage them along the way. Once they understand how to use a dog ramp or dog steps, you can try it on the boat. 

Even when on the boat, it’s a good idea to have treats handy. That way, if the ramp becomes more intimidating in the water, you can coax your pet onto the boat using treats. A new ramp can be confusing for any dog, so you might need to help pull your dog up during the first few attempts. Then, the ramp should eventually make life easier for you and your pup.

Features of a Dog Boat Ramp

While most of the best dog boat ramps will look similar, it’s the features that set them apart. In most cases, you’ll want the option that’s easiest to set up, store, and use. It’s unlikely that you’ll always keep your dog boat ramp in one spot, so it should be easy to transport as needed. If it folds up and has a handle, that will be your best bet.

The material of the ramp is also important. It should be durable with a high traction, non slip surface so your pet can feel safe climbing up and down it. Pet ramps should also be wide enough and strong enough to support your dog’s weight. Another good feature to consider is floating. The ramp should be able to float in water in case it detaches from the boat. It should be waterproof to avoid rust and corrosion, which is why durable plastic or stainless steel hardware are good choices.

There aren’t a ton of dog boat ramps on the market, but there are plenty of other types of ramps. Thus, if none of the boat ramps for dogs fit your needs, you can always choose another dog ramp and modify it. Sometimes all a dog ramp needs is a little extra floatation and grip, and it’s good to go.

Finally, how do you know if traditional ramps, stairs, or ladders are better? The style of the product doesn’t matter, as long as it fits the above criteria. Some dogs will find it easier to climb stairs or a dog boat ladder while some families might find transporting dog boat ramps easier. It’s really up to you your dog’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Even after looking at your options, it’s normal to still be unsure. Here are some common questions dog owners ask. They might help you make that final decision.

Are Dog Boat Ramps Better Than Stairs?

Yes, dog boat ramps can be better than stairs, but that’s not always the case. It depends on the quality of the product and your preferences. Most families will choose dog ramps because they are more compact and lightweight when they fold down, making them easier to use, transport, and store.

On the other hand, some dogs are afraid of climbing up ramps, but stairs and ladders make them more comfortable. If that’s the case, you can choose dog boat stairs instead. Either can make great options for your boating adventures.

How Steep Can a Dog Boat Ramp Be?

In general, a dog ramp should be at an incline of 18 to 25 degrees. The bigger the dog is, the bigger the incline can be. So, if you have a small dog, stick to 18 to 20 degrees, but if you have a big dog, 20 to 25 degrees is perfectly fine. 

Can a Dog Owner Use a Dog Dog Boat Ramp?

No, people should never use dog steps, dog ramps, or even dog ladders. If it’s made for animals, then it’s only meant to support a dog’s weight. Even if it claims to hold hundreds of pounds, it’s safer for humans to stick to a regular boat ladder instead of a dog boat ladder.

How to Get a Dog On and Off a Boat

The best dog boat ramps are ideal for getting your pooch on and off a boat, but even then, your dog might still need some help. If the ramp isn’t high traction enough or if your dog is too scared to climb up all the way, you might need to reach into the water and pull them up. Having them wear a life jacket with a handle while swimming can make it easier for them to get in and out of the boat. With enough practice, even large dogs should be able to climb up and down the dog water ramp with ease.

Final Thoughts

Are you and your canine ready to explore the waters? Then, it’s time to select one of the best dog boat ramps for you. Here are my favorite choices based on different categories, including price, quality, and features.

Peter Schoeman profile

Peter Schoeman

Peter was the creator of the The Dog Adventure. CharityPaws acquired The Dog Adventure in early 2022 in an effort to share our mission of rescuing animals to more readers. He writes about all topics related to dog training, nutrition and the best dog equipment. He resides with his wife, 2 kids and one very cute labradoodle.