I’m looking at different dog ramps for boats–both telescoping and folding.
Which will hold up best in a marine environment? Fit different docks? And most importantly, which will be most comfortable for my dog, Honey?
As I consider buying a new dog ramp for our boat, that’s the question I really need to answer.
Why We Use A Dog Ramp On Our Boat
While Honey will go leaping off the boat to greet her favorite dockhands making kissy noises, it’s not ideal.
After all, she is ten years old. We’ve gotta protect those aging joints.
And extreme tides on a fixed dock can make that leap a doozy. We try to keep Honey from jumping off the boat.
If you worry about keeping your enthusiastic pup taking a flying leap, find the training and management help you need on How To Keep Your Crazy Dog From Jumping Off The Boat.
Besides, minus the cute dockhand who smells like hamburgers, Honey is usually reluctant to take flying leaps.
So we’ve invested in dog ramps over the years to help Honey get on and off the boat. Heck, thanks to grounding a few feet shy of a marina dock, we’ve even used them to get us on and off the boat.
Having a dog ramp on board has given a great balance of safety and flexibility. I can’t imagine being without one.
Choosing A New Dog Ramp
We’ve had two different dog ramps onboard. One was telescoping. One folded.
Each one had its pros and cons.
Since they were both made to help dogs get in and out of cars, neither is ideal for a boat. But let me tell you about Honey’s experiences with them so you can figure out if one would work for your boat dog.
And I’ll tell you about an interesting new folding ramp I’ve been checking out as well.
Maybe, by the end, I’ll have figured out what kind of ramp I’ll buy next.
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Telescoping, Extra-long Dog Ramp By PetSafe
I got the Telescoping Extra-long Dog Ramp (Amazon) before we bought our boat—giving me time to teach Honey how to use it before she had to. After some training on land, she took to it very well when we moved onboard.
We used it for three years before we lost it.
Telescoping Dog Ramp Description
The aluminum ramp is 47 inches long when locked and 87 inches long when fully extended. It has side rails to help keep your dog from stepping off it accidentally. The ramp is a generous 20 inches wide.
The ramp’s surface is like sandpaper. It will serve as non-skid for your dog as long as their nails are short and make full contact with the surface. But when Honey’s nails are too long, she scrambles on the sandpaper surface when the ramp is steep.
At 18 pounds, the ramp is easy to deploy for the average, strong, healthy sailor.
What I liked (Pros):
- aluminum doesn’t corrode
- the ramp floats (briefly)
- the end of the ramp catches the cap rail of our boat for stability
- supports up to 300 pounds
What I didn’t like (Cons):
- closed length is useless on a fixed dock
- sandpaper surface is only partly non-skid
- the aluminum bends if dropped, making the telescoping feature fail
- when the hardware corrodes, the handle & lock fail
- too wide to use inside smaller boats
- the company makes shock collars
Check out my video to see the telescoping ramp in action:
Would I buy it again?
My husband left the ramp sitting between the fixed dock and the boat after taking Honey off to meet me. When we returned, the ramp was gone.
One possibility—someone saw it, liked it, and walked away with it.
But what I think was more likely was that the tide or a large wake (or both) caused the ramp to fall in. We had seen the aluminum ramp float (briefly). But eventually, the hollow forms fill with water and sink.
Although my husband spent over an hour poking around in the mud around the boat, we never saw it again.
We replaced the ramp immediately. But I got something entirely different.
One reason was that since I got the first ramp, the original company (Solvit) had been bought by PetSafe. PetSafe makes a lot of products I consider, at best, ethically dubious (shock collars, electric fences, bark collars, etc.).
PetSafe offers a lot of good pet products. Mostly because they keep buying companies that offer good pet products. They’re positioning themselves to be successful when shock collars are eventually banned in this country. It’s a smart business move.
But–I don’t know–it just felt yucky to support them. It’s the same reason I don’t use Garmin products on the boat (yep, they also make shock collars).
And while the ramp was good and worked for us, the downsides were enough that I didn’t feel bad considering a new ramp.
But the PetSafe Telescoping Dog Ramp (Amazon) was a good enough option for our boat that I leave it up to you whether you think your dog would benefit from it.
My next ramp was very different.
Folding Dog Ramp By Gen7
The Gen7 Folding Dog Ramp (Amazon) is the one we use today. We’ve had it for two years.
I feel better about it than the telescoping ramp. But I’m not exactly sure why.
One reason is that Honey finds the fake grass surface much easier to manage than the gritty surface of her old ramp—especially on a steep grade.
Her comfort makes this ramp a real winner for us.
Folding Dog Ramp Description
This plastic ramp is 72 inches long fully extended and 16 inches wide. When folded in half, it is 36 inches long and a compact 3 inches thick. The ramp does not have rails on the side.
The ramp has a sturdy plastic handle that helps swing it around and a sturdy locking mechanism. It also has a canvas strap and plastic clamp made to attach to a car trunk catch for stability. I wouldn’t rely on its strength on a boat, but it was handy while it lasted.
The ramp is covered with a pad made of artificial grass. It is bolted on with mild steel screws (they corrode on the surface but hold up well). Honey found the “grass” surface much easier to grip, even in the steepest conditions.
At 17 pounds, the ramp is easy to carry around and secure.
The folding ramp is more useful on a short finger pier. We could leave half of the ramp onboard with the hinge resting on our cap rail and the remaining ramp going to the dock.
It is steep. But thanks to the grippy surface, quite manageable.
What I Like About It (Pros)
- fake grass surface is easier for paws to grip
- plastic doesn’t dent when dropped
- compact size—will even work inside some boats
- company doesn’t make shock collars
What I Disliked About It (Cons)
- small metal parts corrode leaving dirt on the surface of the boat
- the plastic ramp sinks
Would I buy it again?
Dog ramps are made to help dogs get in and out of cars or onto furniture. Only Marquipt is made for boarding boats (and the price shows it).
So not one is ideal. But the Gen 7 Folding Dog Ramp (Amazon) hits most of our needs on the boat. I only wish the hardware was suitable for marine life. But it’s still holding up well after two years.
Only the strap for attaching the ramp to a car has failed. The handle still works great, far outlasting the one on our old telescoping ramp.
I’ve found the folding ramp to be more flexible. But when I try to describe how, I fail.
I think the combination of the shorter length and the hinged center has given us more possibilities for using it in a wide range of situations. The telescoping ramp never worked well with skimpy finger piers.
Unless something really amazing comes out made with boat dogs in mind, I’d buy the Gen 7 folding ramp again. If for no other reason than that Honey is much more comfortable with the grass surface than with the sandpaper the comes on many other ramps.
When the boat is lower than the wall we’re tied to, the ramp goes on top of the cabin. Check out Honey’s technique.
One Other Dog Ramp I’d Consider
CoziWow’s Folding Dog Ramp (Amazon) is made specifically for cars, boats, and pools. It has some interesting features:
- rubber feet to keep the ramp from slipping
- plastic hardware & surface
- it folds in half
- 15″ width might work in some boat companionways
- has side rails to keep a dog from sliding off
- weighs less than 10 pounds
- supports up to 200 pounds.
But the company recommends it only be used to help a dog climb a maximum of 28 inches. They warn that a steeper angle might cause your dog to slip while using it.
And looking at the plastic surface with grooves cut into it for gripping, I believe it.
With even the modest freeboard of our Pacific Seacraft 34, I believe Honey would find it uncomfortable to use at a steeper angle. For a high freeboard Beneteau or something like it, I wouldn’t chance it.
However, it might be a good solution for a trawler—giving you the ability to help an older dog on and off the dock as well as up and down interior stairs.
And the CoziWow Folding Dog Ramp (Amazon) is certainly a step in the right direction toward making a ramp more useful on a boat.
Final Ramp Decision
Researching all the different dog ramps available now shows me that the perfect solution doesn’t yet exist.
But the Gen7 Folding Pet Ramp (Amazon) ticks a lot of boxes. And most importantly, the surface is one that I know works for Honey.
So I’m not going to be in a hurry to buy a new ramp.
I’m going to tackle the surface corrosion on the hardware of the ramp I own with some naval jelly. And I should probably sew a bag for storing it on the deck.
I hope that before I decide to buy a new dog ramp for the boat, I’ll have better options to choose from. Perhaps a pet supply company will discover the hidden market of people living and cruising on boats with dogs.
Kurgo? Outward Hound? Ruffwear? Gen7? Are you listening?
Summary – 3 Dog Ramps For Boats
Is one of these the best choice for you?
PetSafe Extra-long Telescoping Dog Ramp
Sturdy and lightweight, this ramp will help even the largest dog move safely from the boat to the dock and back again.
It’s good. But it’s not perfect.
- Holds a lot of weight.
Gen7 Folding Dog Ramp
Our best choice.
I’ve found the folding dog ramp really flexible when we’re tied up to walls or fixed docks. But best of all, Honey finds the fake grass surface much easier to grip when the ramp is steep.
- Plastic doesn’t corrode.
- Surface prevents slipping.
CoziWow Folding Dog Ramp
For the first time, a company appears to be reaching out to the boat market as well as the car market.
While I don’t believe this ramp is the best choice for our sailboat, I suspect it might be an excellent choices for a trawler or other vessel.
- Relies on grooves to keep dogs from slipping.
- Bulky when folded.
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