Boating with Dogs!


Honored Member
Our dog was afraid to jump into water. Also, our dog, well, no dog, can get INTO our boat from the water, without help, lotsa help.
It's hard to guess when the dog wants to be done swimming.
We wished we could buy a boat ramp for our dog to get in/out of the boat, but, they are outrageously co$tly, and many of them must be stored right inside the boat while you are all in the boat too,:msneek: which would take up a lotta room, if not most of the room in the boat.:msngiggle:

Some dogs have no fear of jumping into water, but ours did. :dogph34r:Buddy HAS since learned he can jump into water, :msnohyes:but, he still can't get back IN to the boat.

Some dogs are small, or easy to lift onto boats, but, ours isn't.:dognowink:

Some dogs can climb ladders, but, ours can't, :doghuh:and we do not always put the ladder out, especially if we are in shallow water, the ladder might hit the lake bottom, and get broken, but, a ramp hitting the lake bottom, is fine.

so Craig, who can design and build anything, made one from scratch. :msnhugegrin: He started with a piece of plywood..

Here is The Ramp that Craig designed and built, for our dog to be able to in and out of our pontoon boat all by himself.

I thought it was genius!! :msnohyes:So well thought out, and so well made! I'm posting this, in part for any handy-types who like to build things to get ideas to build their own, or to get inspired, and in part, to brag on how clever my CraigiePie is!:msngiggle:

THIS RAMP WORKS GREAT, WHETHER IN SHALLOW WATER OR DEEP WATER. IT FLOATS, with end of it just below water surface, if it is DEEP water, or, might touch the lake floor if it is in reeeally shallow water.

The ramp has floats under it, so it will not sink while Buddy walks on it.---->
(since these photos were taken, Craig has swapped out these here white boat-floats for large squares of some float material instead, but, i have now forgotten why he made that change)

HERE IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE FEATURES :msnohyes:THAT HE MADE----There are groves and built-up rungs, made of wooden bars under the carpetting........and tough rubber straps for Buddy to claw on, to be able to climb up the ramp with ease, gives Buddy something to kinda claw onto, or grab onto, as he climbs up the ramp.

The ramp is covered with indoor/outdoor carpetting, for even more traction.


Craig attached a cord pulley to be able to pull the ramp up and inwards, even while standing in the boat--> (this cord hooks flat when not in use)

Craig even added the neatest details, like a lil handle to pull the ramp out for use, and trimmed entire outer edge with metal, in part so it will slide easier, in part, to help prevent the plywood from splintering, etc.--->

The ramp slides up UNDER the boat, :msnohyes:while riding in the boat, into a strong slider-grove rack of sorts that Craig built for this purpose. The boat can even be towed with this ramp under the boat.

and Craig built a lock of sorts, (see the brass bolt there?) to prevent it from ever sliding out when driving, and also this lock prevents that top edge of the ramp from sliding backwards along the groove while Buddy is walking on it.
That top edge of the ramp has a pole through it, with rollers on each end, to roll along into the rack--->

Another nice thing, we can tell Buddy is DONE swimming---- it is time to pull the ramp back out............
..........when we spot Buddy swimming around the boat and looking for his ramp....

Swimming even wears out a border collie!!!!


Honored Member
Staff member
What a cutie. ^^ You know, Craig should patent those! Surely other boaters don't like the inconvenience of the large ramps that take up so much room.
(I'm not a boater...lack of bodies of water around here, haha! So if this is something on the market already, then forgive my ignorance. Lol!)
Way to go Craig!


Honored Member
THANKS! Yeah, he probably should get a patent, but, in the meantime, if anyone is real handy like Craig is, they could imitate this and build one, too!! Some folks CAN do that, just look at something, and build it. Craig can.

He so enjoyed designing it, he likes a challenge like that.... i'm always telling him, you oughta make these ramps and sell them, somewhere are rich folks who'd probably pay nice money to be able to let their dog get in/out the boat by himself.

Having a ramp really does remove any worries, knowing Buddy can get his cute self in/out the boat when HE feels like it. :dogbiggrin:If we are in deep water, it's really hard to lift a big dog up high over your head to put him back onto the boat when your own feet aren't on the ground. But, now---even in deep water, Buddy can climb back into the boat when HE is done swimming, whether we are or not.

Of course, we are always right around Buddy at all times, anyway. We watch him pretty close, in part cuz we both find him funny as heck, and in part, cuz he is not the best of all swimmers,:dognowink: nope......sometimes, we do put him into his dog lifevest, but, he is not real fond of it, but, it sure helps him swim better!!!

but, since Buddy can't talk yet, :msngiggle:and we used to be always trying to guess:msniwonder: if he is getting tired yet or IS harder to tell if a dog is tired in the water vs. just on the ground, ha ha!!

You know, there are similar things on the market, BUT, they are hugely, majorly expen$ive, PLUS the shipping.... I think some under-boat ramps start at about $800, and go up from there!!!:surprised:

None are as nice as this one, :msnparty:though, and we haven't seen any that can be left in place while you TOW the boat, and that'd be an indescribable pain in the neck to have to attach it again every time you tow a boat anywhere.

and, like i said, very few ramps are under-boat ramps anyway----almost allllll of them, especially the 'lower' priced ones, must be put INSIDE the boat if you aren't using it at that moment..... which kinda ruins the whole atmosphere in the boat,:msnrolleyes: ha ha, cuz these ARE so large and bulky.

Craig built this one really economically, starting with a piece of plywood, cuz that is so light, he wanted it as 'light' as possible to make it float better.
I'm so proud of his building this, i could pop.:msngiggle:


Honored Member
:offtopic: but, Tx, you oughta SEE how much easier it is for other dogs to avoid Buddy if Buddy decides he doesn't like them, if they are all in the water.

there's lotsa shallow spots, where the water is only knee high, and sometimes folks with dogs are there.
Buddy is almost invariabley the slowest swimmer,:dogwub: ha ha, so even if he spots a dog he wants to argue with,:dogmad: Buddy can not keep up, can not get close enough to really yell at the other dog.

Is kinda funny to watch, Buddy gets worn out trying to chase after the other dogs. He usually gives up and gets back in the boat, like, "If i can't bother that dog, guess i'll quit.":dogdry: ha ha!!:msngiggle:


Honored Member
Staff member
LOL! I have realized that with Border Collies...

They weren't bred for sniffing or swimming. They might be agile and graceful in an agility ring, but stick them in the water and it's a different story. I've seen a few who are great swimmers, but most....not so much.

Mudflap is a poor swimmer too. Fortunately for Zeke, I guess he didn't get his swimming skills from his Border Collie daddy....he's a very strong swimmer, and loves the water. Especially if tennis balls are involved, haha!


Staff member
Lol You would assume a Border collie could swim really well but I guess there has to be something they are bad at!:doglaugh:

Kratos for all his big mastiffness took like a duck to water. He is an incredibly fast swimmer for being so big. But we had the same problem with him... :dogblink:How the heck do you get him out of the water when you're on the boat? It was a workout. If he wanted out, even to dive back in, 3 people had to help grab him and pull him up. Yep 150lbs being hoisted back up into the boat, not fun.

When we get our new boat we might have to make a big one of the dogs. We currently have a speed boat and a ramp that fold down but it isn't strong enough for Kratos... you can hear it breaking when he stands on it and its on bottom.


Honored Member
Charmed, wow, yes, i can imagine your struggles with getting Kratos in a boat! What kind of boat are you getting next time? Another speed boat, or a pontoon?
If you got a pontoon, and then made one of these, you COULD put a lot more floatation under it, possibley it could be made to support 150 lbs, with enough floatation under it.

Lol, nope, maybe other BCs are great swimmers, but, Buddy is NOT! He can get by now, he's come a long long ways about being comfy in the water, but, no one will ever say, "Wow, what a great swimmer Buddy is!" ha ha, that will never happen! I suspect the other dogs snicker at Buddy's lamo swimming efforts.

He is also very very slow swimmer, and THAT makes it fun to watch if Buddy spots another dog he wants to pick a fight with-------cuz Buddy just can't get close enough!! I think ANY dog can outswim Buddy! He is always way behind!

Buddy wears his own self out trying to catch up with other dogs. The other dogs have complete control about whether they want to play with Buddy, or not. Sometimes, they WILL play with Buddy, if it is dogs Buddy likes and Buddy is giving out friendly signals and all.

If it is a dog Buddy wants to argue with, what a hoot. The 'enemy' dog can so so easily evade Buddy, and Buddy eventually gives up, he just can't keep up with his "target"....sigh.
Buddy is slightly faster with his life vest on, but even with that, Buddy can't catch up with any other dog, UNLESS the other dog chooses to play with Buddy.

It's a WHOLE NEW GAME for Buddy to socialize in the water!!


Experienced Member
You are lucky your dog actually likes to swim. Carmel likes water, but nothing will get her to swim. She hates it


Honored Member
wow, your dog is cute, what kind is that? just adorable. Looks like a doodle?
Actually, buddy disliked water very much, but since his owners are in water almost daily for much of the year,buddy has learned to like it, and seems to enjoy it very much now. He gets stoked to go to the lake now.

a few things helped Buddy learn to like water:
#1)OTHER DOGS, going into water, gave him idea is fun and okay afterall.
Bring your dog's canine friends who DO like water, that will help your dog a lot.
#2) i took him to areas he can wade in/walk into water,from a gently sloping beach.
He became fond of that set up, and learned to trust water, <---THAT happened a long time before Buddy thought jumping into water from a boat or dock, or a poolside, was fun. Gentely sloping beaches must seem safer to dogs, than pools or piers do.

#3)that first summer, i kept giving Buddy treats, for walking into water with me, etc etc, and praising him, too. Then we'd get out, back onto beach,
then we'd walk a few steps into water again,
over and over,
all summer long.

so do keep trying, to offer your dog chances to have positive experiences:D in water,
your dog *may* develop a like,
or even a love,
of water, if he gets enough chances to walk into water in situations he feels are safe, like gently sloping beaches.

Buddy is not a great swimmer, at all, and was so lousy at it, we had to put a doggie lifejacket on him his first year with us.


Honored Member
warning, dogs CAN drown.
not all dogs can swim in water over their heads, or for very long.
Especially thick bodied, shorter legged dogs, and very chest heavy dogs, (like pugs, for example)many of these body types drown easily.

Swimming is very tiring for many dogs.

Much of the time my dog is swimming, he has his feet on the ground. Buddy has learned, he can swim out to deeper water, and then back over to the shallow areas, and he tends to stay where he has feet on the ground. Buddy "knows" "his" lake pretty well, and stays in shallow areas most of time. but i watch him all the time, all the time.

I usually put him in his doggie life jacket if we are out very deep, and watch him like a hawk for signs he is done, but luckily, he now has a ramp, so HE can choose when to get in/out.


Experienced Member
Carmel is a mini-goldendoodle (33 pounds). Thank you so much tigerlily46514. We will try swimming in the summer time:D


Staff member
Tigerlily- The family wants to get a party boat so that the whole family dogs included can all be comfy on it unlike our speed boat where we can only fit 2-4 humans and only 2 dogs.

Yep, a doggie life jacket is definitely a must. Kratos though is too big for them and has some really strong limbs. I still worry about if he could drown if the lake gets too bad.

Now Jinx and Isis have to learn to swim. They are terrible swimmers and panic when they get in the water.


Honored Member
Dogcrazy, i thought that Carmel looked like a doodle, is cute as can be! One of Buddy's best friends is a doodle, but not as pretty of a color as yours. That doodle, naemd Cosmo, actually "fishes" in the lake----rising up on his hind legs, stepping fwd, and then lunging down under water, paws first, trying to catch a fish he has seen! And occasionally, he catches one! His overall movement, reminds me of how bears look when they fish.

Buddy has tried imitating the fishing doodle named Cosmo, after watching Cosmo actually GET a fish, Buddy gave it a try,
but, Buddy can't get a fish. Buddy only tries this, ONLY when Cosmo is with him, so it's very cute,
it always looks as if my dog is faking something(an interest in fishing)
to fit in with Cosmo, rofl!!


Honored Member
YES! Charmed, i love pontoon boats! We had a speed boat, for eons, but to tell the truth, we neither one ski anymore, lol, one or two good injuries, ha, that was it for us.:ROFLMAO: i guess we are not young anymore!

and pontoons are sooooo much nicer, is like a floating living room, wth sofas all around all edges of it, and tables, and plenty of room for coolers, etc. It can still go fast enough if you need to, but, it's so much nicer for dogs, too. You can even tie up pontoons all together, and walk from one to the next to visit in your pals' boats.
Pontoons are way more of a pain to tow, but, can be done, but what a w mostly stay in our own neighborhood lake, ha ha! It's easier to rent a pontoon when you travel, than to tow one.

I think it is much harder for a dog to jump into water
walking/wading into water.
(i mean dogs who don't initially seem to like water that much).

Dogs apparently have poor depth perception, too. Getting Buddy to jump off the boat took him a long time, even after he was happy to walk into water from a beach.

But, any dog of ours, sooner or later, comes to love water, as they see it so often all summer long. We set about from day one, once we saw Buddy had zero fondness for water,
making sure he got daily positive experiences in the water.

well, wait, i almost forgot, once Buddy almost drowned, jumping into rushing river to get a goose,
and THAT is when he developed his strong dislike of water. but, he DID get over that fear, with daily help walking into water, treats praise, etc.
and then,
after we had to just lift him off the boat into the water for a whole summer,
after Buddy decided the lake was NOT the same as that rushing river,

then we were successful,
luring Buddy into water from off of the boat, with us in the water, and his canine pals all in the same water,
even Buddy
who once thought he'd never want to get off boat into water,
walked down his ramp into the water.

Now Buddy can jump into the water, too,
but he still needs ramp to get back into the boat.
so don't give up,
dogs can learn new things!:)


Experienced Member
Carmel got scared of jumping in the water after she jumped out of the kayak (she saw a loon). Cosmo seems like one funny doodle.


Honored Member
lol, yes, Cosmo is one interesting dog!! I've never seen a dog "fish" like Cosmo does...literally stepping around on his hind feet, like a bear, in the water, staring down into the water....he is rather obsessed to find fish, actually.
bombs could go off, and Cosmo is stilll staring into the water, hoping to spot a fish..

Cosmo is white, looks much like your dog, but white. I LOVE your dog's carmel color, never saw that before! and it's obvious, Cosmo DID inherit the poodle brains, too, poodles are soooooooooo so so smart.

well, Carmel *might* just get past this new fear or dislike of water, like my Buddy did, so don't give up. Took Buddy an entire summer, i think, but, now, he likes water just fine now. Each spring, he is hesitant all over again, but, soon enough, he is a water dog again.

Doodles *might* be easier to get past this (not sure) since they do have poodle in their bloodstream, poodles do like water usually.......... whereas many owners of border collies report their dog isn't wild about swimming, ha ha.


Honored Member
SQUEAL!! that dog is too cute!! so pretty! now in this pic, i can see she is not that big. Cosmo is very tall, and about 60 or 70lbs, so i thought Carmel would be, but i now see that Carmel is mini doodle.