Pontooning is something that all of the family can enjoy, and that includes our four-legged furry friends. But they don’t always find it that easy getting in and out of pontoon boats. Sometimes they need a little assistance, especially smaller dogs who can’t simply hop in and hop out.
You’ve got a couple of options here, you can either buy a dog ramp or ladder, or you could, if you have the time and expertize, build a dog ramp for your pontoon boat.
I’ve personally never built my own dog ramp for my pontoon, and use an aftermarket specialist solution, so what I did was take a look around on Facebook and other online forums to find as many examples of DIY dog ramps and ladders that I could.
Handy Hint: If you don’t want to build one yourself, here are my recommendations on the best dog boat ramps and ladders currently available to buy. I also have a large list of dog boat stuff including all the essential accessories you will need for a happy boat dog.
7 Ideas on How to Build a Dog Ramp for a Pontoon Boat
Below in no particular order are the best DIY methods I have found online. These should you the inspiration you need to if you want to know how to make your own dog ramp, with a few comments from the original boat owners who built these.
Idea 1: Old Kid’s Slide with Rubber Matting
This design uses a small cheap dog ramp with some carpeting, and then some rubber matting which floats, letting the dog enter the water safely and easily.
The rubber matting is bought from Lowes and really isn’t that heavy and can be folded up and left at the slip if the dog isn’t with the owner.
This is what the owner had to say:
“Seriously it looks heavier than it is, and really the mats are the only thing that have any weight and the other part is an old kid’s slide. I’m pushing 60 and I don’t have any problem lifting it.”
Idea 2: Rubber Drainage Mat Attached with Bungee Cords
The rubber matting solution is very popular on pontoon boat forums, and here’s another one in action to provide a floating platform that the dog can come in and out of the water with.
It’s simply a large drainage rubber mat bought from Amazon (see prices for this mat) and then attached to the side of the boat using some bungee cords.
The dog can run down the ramp when it floats, and then climb back on by gripping the mat when coming back onto the pontoon.
To make the ramp more buoyant, I would advise attaching foam swimming noodles (view on Amazon) to the underside using cable ties, and you can see an example of how that would work in the image below.
Idea 3: Old Ladder with Plywood
In this idea, the dog owner had an old ladder, cut it down a little shorter, and then cut some plywood to fit into the gaps and over the existing steps, letting the dog come on and off the boat when at the shore.
When not being used it can be slid onto the deck, and only taken on the boat on the times that the dog is coming on a day trip.
It should only take a couple of hours to make, and the materials will be very cheap.
Idea 4: Extension Ladder with Barn Door Rollers
This is quite a unique ramp built by an owner found on Facebook. They simply took an old extension ladder, some barn door rollers and added some outdoor carpet and plywood over the top.
It’s set up so that it can be rolled and stored under the deck when not in use and can easily slide out onto the beach.
I’ve not seen anything like this one before but hats off to the guy who built this DIY dog ramp it as it’s very ingenious!
Idea 5: Pool Ladder with Noodles & Dock Bumper
In this idea the dog owner had a 5-foot pool ladder which was then cut up to size, and then used some trailer bunk carpet with zip tied noodles and a dock bumper. You can see the front and rear of the DIY ramp in the photo below.
The person who built this had this to say on Facebook:
“I cut the ladder platform off then stretched out the carpet around the steps. Once that was done I screwed the carpet in and then used an old dock bumper stop to make it float better.”
I love this idea, and personally think it’s one of the best DIY dog ramps I have ever seen anyone build or make.
Idea 6: Aluminum & Stainless-Steel Metal Ladder
This one is going to require some more expensive materials, not to mention the fact you will need to be adept at metalwork, but still worth a look below.
He then used short chain 2 eye bolt hooks on both ends so that the chain can be removed prior to launching the pontoon. You can see that different view on how it works in the photo seen below.
I have no idea how hard this would be to make, other than the fact the guy who built it works in a machine and fabrication company and so was able to buy 6061 aluminum and 304 stainless steel to do it himself.
Idea 7: Floating Ramp & Ladder Combo with Pulley
This is great and is very similar in build to some of the other ideas on this page, with one key difference – the pulley cord aspect!
As well as the pulley there are also grooves built into the ramp which were made from wooden bars set underneath the carpet.
The tough rubber straps also give some grip for the dog so he can climb up easily as he comes out of the water.
I also spoke to other people in and around the lake I take our pontoon who own dogs, and asked them if they knew how to build a dog ramp, and here’s just a selection of their comments.
“A friend of mine found an old loading ramp for a u-haul truck and cut it down to length. Its not too heavy and it hides away easily onboard the boat, but you could also attach and slide it under the deck I guess.”
“All we do is use old kid’s slide made from hard plastic and have attached some floats to it so we can use it as an entry and exit ramp, plus for floating when in the water.”
“I had a store bought folding ramp, but when beached it was a pretty steep incline so does need to be longer so I am going to have to make up my own DIY ladder solution next so will check out the idea on Pontoonopedia.”
“We just use our bow ramp with a large fender attached under the end to make it float. The dogs just climb on it to board out in open water and have found it really use to do.”