How to Build a Dog Ramp on a Pontoon Boat

How to Build a Dog Ramp on a Pontoon Boat

Being able to bring your furry friend to a pontoon boat is a great feeling for dog lovers.

It becomes even an incredibly enjoyable experience when the dog can safely jump into the water to swim along. 

Some dog breeds love water and really enjoy swimming. With such a pet, it can be so heartbreaking when they have to remain on the boat simply because they fear how to get out of the water. 

And while most dogs are intelligent and can easily find ways to overcome the challenge and get back on the boat, it’s usually a dangerous and challenging undertaking. 

Luckily, there is a practical way to help your dog enjoy the waters safely as you do. All your dog needs is a floating dog ramp. 

You can either buy the dog ramp or build one at home. I recommend making your own floating ramp as it will be much less expensive. 

It’s super easy to make a floating dog ramp for a pontoon boat, even if you don’t have much DIY skills. 

Keep reading to discover the best ways to make your own dog ramp on your pontoon boat, dock, or even a pool.

How to Build a Dog Water Ramp on a Pontoon Boat

There are several ways to build a DIY dog ramp for pontoon boats. Here, I’ll share the best four ideas you can use to make a stable and long-lasting ramp for your dog. 

#1. DIY Dock and Boat Ramp with Floor Mats

This dog ramp is quite easy to make and can be used on various types of boats and docks. You’ll need these things to make this boat or dock ramp:

  • Two thick pool noodles and three thin pool noodles 
  • Two rubber anti-wear floor mats, 3 feet by 2 feet and 3 feet by 3 feet
  • Two large-sized carabiners
  • Zip ties
  • A 6 feet rope

Once you gather the required items, follow these steps to make a ramp for your dog:

Step 1: Cut the Pool Noodles

Cut one thin and two thick water noodles in half using a handsaw or a bread knife. Leave the two other thin noodles in full size, as you’ll need them to strengthen the ramp. 

Step 2: Align the Mats on the Floor

Put the rubber mats down facing up to attach the noodles. 

You want to ensure that the rough side of the mat is on top when the ramp is complete for better grip as the dog ascends. 

Step 3: Join the Two Mats Together

Use eight zip ties to connect the two mats along their length. Fasten then zip ties the best way possible to ensure that the mats are securely attached. 

Ideally, use two zip ties on each side, two in the middle and one between the center, for a perfect mount. 

Once you connect the two pieces, you should have a big mat of about 3 feet by 5 feet. Then trim the zip ties with a pair of scissors or even a sharp knife. 

Step 4: Attach the Uncut Water Noodles to the Rubber Mat

Mount the uncut thin noodles to the mat along the mat’s length using zip ties. About six zip ties should be enough to attach each noodle from one end to the other. 

The two pool noodles will strengthen the ramp and prevent it from flipping under the upper half as the dog climbs. 

Step 5: Mount the 4 Halves of Thick Pool Noodles between the Side Ones 

Use more zip ties to mount the thick noodles vertically between the side noodles. Be sure to space them evenly towards the top side for extra stability. 

Then mount the remaining thin noodles on the lower end of the ramp. 

Step 6: Measure Your Boat Ladder Width

The next thing you want to do is measure your boat ladder width to know how much you need to cut off from the pet ramp.

Then trim your ramp based on the measurements you get to ensure that it fits between the ladder’s rails. 

Step 7: Attach the Carabiners 

 If you have made it to this point, your dog ramp is ready for installation on the boat, and there are two ways to attach it to the boat ladder. 

The first option involves weaving a rope through the rubber matting holes and connecting to the carabiners. 

The next method involves attaching the carabiners directly to the mat. I prefer the first method as it will hold longer and keep the pet ramp in place. 

The second option is much easier and faster, but it results in a weak ramp that moves in and out of place. The rubber drainage mat could also wear off quicker than it would when you weave a rope. 

So, I highly recommend that you weave a rope through the mat’s hole and attach the carabiners to it. This way, you’ll make a durable and safe ramp for your Fido.

#2. Build a Portable Folding Ramp 

Are you looking for an easy way to build a portable and flexible ramp for your dog? A folding ramp is an excellent idea for different types of dogs. 

If you have a big pup that loves the water, a large dog boat ladder with adequate buoyancy is all they need for a perfect swimming experience. 

To make a dog ladder that can be used on both boats and docks, you’ll need a simple ladder of about 6ft by 18 inches. 

Then cover the interior part of the ladder with plywood to prevent the dog from sliding or falling over as it climbs. 

To improve traction, you can add an outdoor carpet on the outer part of the dock or boat ladder or ramp where the dog will be stepping on when climbing. 

Build a Portable Folding Ramp 

Then add some buoyancy underneath the lower part of the dog ladder to float well for the dog to climb effortlessly. 

There are many floatation devices you can use on a dog ladder, including gas cans or thick pool noodles. 

Gas cans work better than pool noodles as you can easily adjust the floatation by adding water to each of them. 

If the ladder floats too high for your pup to climb safely, you can add some water on the lower can. Then adjust if necessary to ensure that it’s not overly sloped for your pup to climb safely. 

#3. Make a Dog Ramp with an Old Ladder and Plywood

Our third idea isn’t complicated as there is really not much work involved. If you have an old ladder, you’ll just need to trim it to achieve the desired length and buy some plywood. 

Then use the plywood to cover the gaps between the ladder steps. You’ll get a simple ramp that is portable and very handy for your dog to get into the water and climb back to the boat with ease. 

What’s more exciting about this type of ramp is that it’s very flexible. When you don’t plan to bring your dog on board, you can simply slide the ramp onto your boat’s deck for storage until the next trip. 

It’s super easy and inexpensive to make, especially if you already have the ladder. The plywood will be very cheap and available in nearby lumber or furniture stores. 

#4. Build an Old Kid’s Slide with Rubber Mats

To build an old kid’s slide with rubber matting, place two or three small rubber mats face up and join them with zip ties. 

Then cut the noodles with a hand saw, box cutter or even a bread knife to achieve the desired sizes and attach them to the mat with zip ties. 

You can mix thick and skinny pool noodle pieces just as in the first idea to ensure that the dog boat ramp doesn’t float too high on the water. 

But it should have adequate buoyancy so that it doesn’t go too steep for the dog to climb safely. 

Ideally, the top half should have more buoyancy than the bottom half to achieve a perfect floating platform that’s not too steep or too high for the dog to reach when swimming. 

This DIY dog ramp idea also works great if you already have some cheap dog pool ramp or ladder as you’ll use the rubber matting as an extension that floats on the water. 

Another advantage of using mats to build a dog water ramp is that the units easily attach to the boat frame or pool ladder. You can use a rope or carabiners to hang the lightweight dog ramps. 

In general, dog boat ramps made of rubber matting and water noodles are a simple yet effective way for dogs to get out of the water.

The walking surface on rubber mat dog ramps isn’t usually firm unless you build a stable frame with wood or aircraft aluminum.

Nonetheless, it works really well if a big dog jumps directly into the water and uses the ramp as a ladder to get back on the boat rather than trying to slide through it.

More Tips on How to Build a Dog Ramp on Your Pontoon Boat

More Tips on How to Build a Dog Ramp on Your Pontoon Boat

When building a dog water ramp for a pontoon boat, there are several things you need to keep in mind to ensure that you make the best one. 

Making a boat ramp is inexpensive and will be more beneficial for your dog as you can customize it according to their size and weight. 

There are many ideas on how to build a boat dog ramp, but not all of them are ideal for your pooch. 

If you want to build a perfect boat ramp for your dog on a pontoon boat, here are a few essential tips to help you get it right:

Set a Budget

While building a dog water ramp is much cheaper than buying one, planning will go a long way for the simple project. You need to set a budget in advance for your DIY project. 

Depending on the idea you want to follow, some boat ramp materials can be quite expensive. 

If you are unsure what building approach you want to follow, you need to determine how much money you are willing to spend on the project. 

When creating a budget for your DIY dog boat ramp, you also need to anticipate other expenses that you’ll incur, such as cleaning supplies. 

Setting a reasonable budget will help you know which idea is the best for your dog and is still ideal for your pocket. 

Be Creative 

A DIY dog boat ramp is a simple project that you and your family members should be able to craft within a short time. 

Instead of buying everything, you can look around your home garage and see what materials you can spare for the project. This can save you some money and make your project much cheaper and more enjoyable. 

For example, if you have an old ladder, you can trim it and add some buoyancy to make a simple dog ladder.

You can also use small plastic cans as floatation devices instead of buying lots of pool noodles. 

Attend a Workshop 

If you live in a place where experts host a workshop from time to time, you can attend one to acquire some DIY skills. 

They can teach you many ways to make a DIY dog boat ramp within a few hours. Experts from workshops have a lot to share with you if you really want to learn. 

There are also many instructional videos available on YouTube, which are a great resource for a boat owner building a dog ramp for the first time. 

Dog ramps are popular among many boaters, especially pontoon boat owners, and it’s easy to get inspiration from different people. 

How to Buy the Best Dog Water Ramp for a Pontoon Boat

How to Buy the Best Dog Water Ramp for a Pontoon Boat

If you don’t want to build your own dog ramp, you can always buy one. But there are many types of ramps available out there, making it quite hard to choose the best one for your dog. 

Luckily, I have prepared a list of the essential things to consider when buying a dog ramp for your pontoon boat. Check them out!


When buying a ramp for your dog, you want to ensure that it uses high-quality materials so it can last for a longer time. 

It should also have a waterproof finish and be treated enough to withstand adverse boating conditions. Otherwise, the material will degrade after a few weeks of boating with your dog.

Some of the best materials used to build dog ramps are ABS plastic, aircraft aluminum, and stainless steel. Be sure to get something that won’t corrode or wear off after a short period of use. 

Stable Surface with Traction for Perfect Grip 

The whole purpose of having a dog ramp for a pontoon boat is to ensure that your pup finds it easy to get in and out of the water safely. 

So, the ramp should have a stable surface with high traction for gripping to allow the dog to ascend to the boat comfortably and safely. 

If the ramp doesn’t have enough traction, the dog will slide back into the water when trying to climb to the boat. 

It would be useless to have a slippery ramp on your pontoon as it makes it even harder for your furry friend to get out of the water. 

Safety Features 

The best ramp for your dog should be safe enough for your pet to climb without being hurt. The edges should be smooth to save the dog from claw injuries. 

Some boat ramps for dogs also have side railings to prevent the dog from falling off when trying to get back onboard. 

Ease of Installation and Portability

If you don’t want to make your own dog ramp in the first place, you definitely want to buy something super easy to set up. 

Some dog ramps come in compact designs that enhance portability and make it easy to store the unit when not in use. Be sure to get the right model for your pontoon boat!



Q: What is a Good Slope for a Dog Boat Ramp?

A: A good slope for a dog boat ramp should range between 10 to 30 degrees. Small dogs will climb safely on an 18 to 20 degrees incline, while big dogs will be OK with a slope of about 20 to 25 degrees. 

When making a DIY dog boat ramp, you need to keep in mind that your dog is not ergonomically built to climb steep stairs or walk on highly inclined surfaces. 

A steeply sloped boat or dock ramp will eventually cause limb injuries to your lovely dog. Trust me, it’s painful, and you’ll definitely regret being a neglectful pet parent. 

Q: How Do You Make a Dog Water Ramp for a Boat?

A: There are many ways to build a dog water ramp for a boat, as explained above. The best approach for you will depend on your DIY skill level and budget. 

If you want a simple DIY dog boat ramp, you can use rubber mats and pool noodles to help your dog swim with confidence and get back on the boat safely. 

Other materials that you can use to make a DIY dog boat ramp include plywood, aircraft aluminum, ABS plastic, and stainless steel. 

If you make a dog boat ramp and it feels slippery for your pet, you can cover the walking surface with an outdoor carpet for extra grip. 

Wrap Up

Wrap Up

Building dog ramps for pontoon boats is fairly easy as long as you have the required materials and some inspiration.

It’s a great way to save some money while still ensuring that your furry friends have as much fun as you and your boating crew do on the water. 

If you want to make a DIY dog ramp for a pontoon boat or dock, you can always use the ideas shared in this article. 

Feel free to make a few modifications here and there to ensure that the ramp fits the size of your dog snugly.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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