HEALTH & CARE

How to Build A Dog Ramp: Step-by-step Instructions

How to Build A Dog Ramp
John Walton
Written by John Walton

When your dog starts to get too old to get onto the couch, or your dog’s simply too small, there are easier things you can do other than picking him up. Ramps can make yours and your dog’s life a lot easier, with built-in steps to help him get onto those higher surfaces. But ramps at the store can be a little pricier than what you expect. Instead, why not consider a DIY dog ramp that you can make from a few inexpensive materials?

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In this article, you can learn how to build a dog ramp in no time, and you can carry it around with you wherever you go, making it easy for your dog to get in and out of the car.

DIY ramp

There are a wide variety of dog ramps that can be made for different occasions. Depending on the kind that you need, you’re going to require a few different materials and tools in order to make them. This article will be providing instructions on how to build a normal dog ramp to help your dog get onto a couch or bed, a felt covered ramp for furniture, a special ramp to help your dog avoid stairs, a ramp for cars, and a pool ramp.

A ramp for a couch or bed

In building this ramp, there are a few things you’re going to need before you can start building. These materials are:

  • Two-inch by two-inch pieces of lumber (you can cut other wood down to this size if you don’t have any readily available)
  • Tape measure
  • Sturdy plywood
  • A saw
  • Hammer and nails
  • Sandpaper
  • Water-resistant paint

First, you need to calculate how long your dog ramp needs to be. Measure the distance from the top of the bed or couch to the floor at an angle. Be sure not to make the angle too steep. Take that measurement and add four inches to it.

A ramp for a couch

Next, place the two-inch by two-inch pieces of lumber on a firm surface and measure the desired length of the ramp. Mark the length on the boards with a pencil. Using a saw cut along the marks that you’ve made. These boards will become the frames for the dog ramp.

Place the piece of plywood on a flat surface, and position the two frame boards twelve inches apart on the plywood. Then, measure and mark the length and width of the plywood that will accommodate the frame boards. Then cut the plywood as marked.

Using the rest of the 2 by 2 inch pieces of wood mark 12 inches in length. These are going to be the steps for your ramp to make it easier for your dog to use. Once that’s done, it’s time to nail the plywood to the top of the frames using hammer and nails. Position and attach the steps you’ve made in even increments along the length of the plywood, and nail them down firmly.

Look for any sharp edges or splinters that are present on your ramp. These could result in the injury of your pet, so it’s a good idea to sand them away. The last thing you want is to remove a large splinter from your dog’s foot. Once the areas have been smoothed, apply a coat of water-resistant paint. This makes the ramp suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

Dog ramp for a bed

It’s important that you be aware of what materials are going to be safe. If your dog is quite large and heavy, then thicker plywood should be used in order to safely support his weight. The size of your dog should also be taken into account when considering the width of the ramp: the larger the dog, the more space they’re going to need when they’re using it. To find the wood you’re looking for, you can always ask your hardware store if there are any scraps that they are getting rid of.

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You can save a lot more money than having to pay full price, or the store may even give it to you for free.

Carpeted ramp for furniture

This version of the ramp may require a different set of materials, as there is no need to build steps. The most important first step is determining the right measurements for your ramp. You can choose a simple ramp that leads right up to the couch or bed, or you can choose to add a platform to the end so that your dog has a smoother transition from the floor to the surface he wants to get on.

Get a pen, paper and some measuring tape for you to start. To determine the height, measure from the floor to the top of the surface you want your dog to get on. In measuring the length, you have to determine how steep you want the ramp to be. Older dogs may not be able to handle steep ramps, but you also have to take the amount of space you have into consideration as well.

Carpeted ramp for furniture

A good estimate is to make the ramp length twice as long as the height measurement, and then adjust it accordingly to the needs of your dog. A longer length means a less steep slope. The width should be as wide as your dog needs it, according to his size. The best estimates are 6-10 inches for small dogs, 10-14 inches for medium dogs, and 14-18 inches for large dogs. If you are adding a platform, then the ramp and platform should be the same width. It’s best to make the platform as square as possible.

In preparation for building your ramp, you’ll need to plan out several parts of the ramp. You’re going to need solid, triangular supports for the sides, rails that attach to the sides and provide support to the top, the braces that provide added strength underneath the ramp, and the material being used to cover the top. Carpet, felt or non-skin paint are popular options, as they last a long time and are inexpensive to purchase. There’s also the choice as to whether you should add a platform or not.

What you’ll need:

  • One sheet of 4″ by 8″ plywood that is at least 3/4″ thick
  • One 2″ by 2″ 8-foot strip of wood to create support beams
  • Circular saw
  • Power drill
  • Screws
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Sand paper
  • Paint and a roller
  • Carpet
  • Carpet tape

Using your measurements start drawing out the pieces that you’ll need onto the plywood. Create two angled sides according to the height and ramp measurements that you have in order to create triangles. If you are adding a platform, add the horizontal measurement from the top of the triangle. Also trace out the square shape of the platform, as well as the back panel of the ramp, which should be the height by the platform measurement.

Cut out support railing that goes along the slope length of the ramp. They should not meet the top and bottom corners of the slope. You can duct tape these in place so that you can start drilling. Turn the pieces over and provide some support to them with a book or another piece of wood so that it stays level. Then, mark screw holes in five-inch intervals. Drill and insert screws at the marks and add a small dabble of glue to each to provide a little more hold to the overall piece. Do the same for the other piece.

Ramp for furniture

To add the ramp top, stand the triangles upright — you’re going to need help from someone else to do this — and place the ramp flush with the plywood. Drill holes at four-inch intervals along each side of the top, and then insert the screws.

To add the braces, turn the ramp over onto its back and cut out about eight beams according to your measurements. If you do include a platform, you’re going to need four legs that match the height of the ramp to serve as support. The other braces should be the width of the ramp, and should be place at the top and bottom of the ramp, and along the slope length to provide some added support. Add the ramp top, the platform top, and the backing, and then screw everything together with a power drill, or use hammer and nails.

Once the body of your ramp is complete, then you have to add the finishing touches. You can use a spare scrap of carpet, some Astroturf, or non-slip paint to complete the look. If you can’t find non-slip pain, you can add some sand to a bucket of paint to achieve the same effect. If you choose to add carpeting, you can staple along the edges, and then hammer the staples in to avoid any harm coming to your dog. Some owners choose to use rubber sheeting, as it’s cheap and non-slippery, and can be replaced quite easily when it starts to wear down.

Dog ramps for cars and other vehicles

These portable ramps can help your dog get into cars, pickup trucks, boats, semi trucks, and even golf carts. They can be used for rear entry into a vehicle, or side entry through car doors. It’s all dependent on where you need your dog to be during the right. The size and sturdiness of the ramp is dependent upon the size of your dog that you need to build it for.

Build a dog ramp

The materials you’re going to need are:

  • 3/4-inch thick plywood, measuring 12″ by 48″
  • Metal strip for the edges (this can be taken from an old whiteboard)
  • A strip of rubber matting or outdoor carpeting to cover the board
  • Large metal screw-in snap hook
  • Large metal snap
  • Small nails or screws

You’re going to record measurements for this as well, but they should be able to accommodate a variety of vehicles if it’s made long enough. First, attach the rubber matting to the ramp, using glue or a staple gun. Be sure to hammer in the staples when you’re through. Cut apart the metal strip into four piece — two long pieces for the sides, and two shorter ones for the ends — and nail or screw them to the four edges of the board.

Dog ramp for cars

Then, screw the eye hook into the middle of the top end of the board, the end that will be attached to the vehicle. Link your snap through the eye hook. The eye hook can be used to keep the ramp against the vehicle while your dog gets in. If your ramp ends up being too steep, you can always extend it to make it easy enough for ailing dogs or smaller dogs to use. Then, you can simply store the ramp away when it’s not in use.

Dog ramps for pools

In-ground pools can be easy for your dog to get out of, since they come with built-in stairs. But above-ground pools can be a bit more problematic. The plastic stairs may be too steep for your dog to use, and without any way to get out your dog can succumb to exhaustion quite easily. Instead of risking your dog drowning, especially if he’s fallen in by accident, why not build a dog ramp for him to use when he’s ready to get out of the pool?

The first thing you’ll need is a simple beach chair. These are made from light materials that were designed to float in a pool, and are very weather resistant. The best kind to get is one made out of plastic with a perforated seat. This will make the ramp float easily so that your dog can find where it is. The frame should be made out of paint-covered aluminum to add to its buoyancy.

Homemade dog ramp for pool

The second step is to add gripping materials to the chair. You can use two strips of white perforated plastic tile that would be used outside of a shower. They can be cut quite easily to create steps for your dog to use in getting out of the pool. The strips are attached to the chair and held in place with plastic covered wire. The best place to put them is in the middle of the seat and the middle of the chair’s back. If you need to, you can add more than just the two to make it easier for your dog to get out of the pool.

To place the chair in the pool, you’re going to want the back rest to be in the water and for the seat to be against the wall. This way, your dog has more surface area to work with when getting out of the pool. You don’t need to worry about the legs of the chair damaging the wall of your pool, as the paint-covered aluminum won’t perforate it or remove the lining. To anchor the chair to the side of the pool, you can use a strong plastic rope and attach it to one of the carrying handles of the chair. The rope can then be secured by tying one or two loops to a screw.

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In getting your dog to use the ramp, you can use treats to coax him over to the location of the ramp a few times, and then he will learn where it is. Keep in mind that this ramp is most suitable for small to medium-sized dogs. For larger dogs, you’re going to have to build something different in order to accommodate their weight.

What you’ll need are some pool noodles, zip ties, and some industrial rubber mat material, preferably with holes so that your dog has something to grip onto. The more material you get, the better. You can find the instructions for building your own floating dog ramp in the video link below:

Both of these solutions are cost-effective, and can be replaced as necessary without too much of a cost. With the price of dog pool ramps at the pet stores, many of them costing more than $100, these plans are easy-to-make and cheaper solutions for your needs.

The best way to encourage your dog to use any of the ramps mentioned here is the use of treats. For normal ramps outside of the pool, laying a trail of treats along the length of the ramp can help to acclimate him to the feel of it, so that he’ll realize that it doesn’t pose a danger to him. Over time, he’ll become more used to it.

Dog ramp for pool

Making a DIY dog ramp doesn’t take a lot of ingenuity, once you’re familiar with how they’re made. You’re free to customize as many of the materials as you need to make a sturdier ramp for your dog to use. It’s the structure and the support that’s most important, as you don’t want the ramp to break, for your dog to slip off, or for him to be injured on any of the components of your ramp.

Making your ramp as safe as possible for your dog will make it easier for him to use it in the future, so that he can be more mobile and you’ll no longer have to strain your back helping him where he needs to go.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

  • Liz Fraser

    Indoor ramps should definitely have carpeting so that the dogs won’t slip, or at least some cover that they can take purchase in when ascending and descending the ramp. I live in a small apartment and am endlessly glad that my chihuahua(name’s Cheeky) doesn’t require a ramp… at least right now, it’s probable that once Cheeky gets old it’s inevitable. Nonetheless, this is a good read!

    • John Walton

      Indeed it requires carpeting or «foot pads» to keep it safe and secure. Other than that, make sure the construction itself is firm and durable enough to hold your dog’s weight.

  • Ruby Anderson

    Making a dog ramp is no problem, having our dog ascend it is no problem, but the problem is that our dog still chooses to jump down instead of using the ramp to descend. Some dog owners may encounter the very same problem as me, and currently positive reinforcement is going… slowly. I have hopes though, and the stress on our dog’s back has been lesser since having a ramp, which is great news for an old dog as he.

    • John Walton

      I understand the frustration, Ruby. Either your dog will love the ramp or like not at all. It would be better to acclimate him to this new structure. Slowly but surely.

  • Kelly Yates

    I honestly think dog ramps are things that are very much overlooked by most owners! They end up nagging and snapping at their dogs for always beckoning on them to help them up a platform, especially the old dogs! A ramp sure does make things easier and It was the best decision we made for our feeble old dog!

    • John Walton

      I am glad that you think so too! It is definitely overlooked. Most owners would opt to carry their elderly dog instead of building a ramp. I sure hope others will follow suit. It will make life easier for both owners and dogs.

  • Virgil Chandler

    Thanks for the details John, I am looking to make a ramp this week for some elderly dogs at a kernel. I volunteered to do and I honestly had no idea what I was offering, but thanks to you I can easily practice making one this evening and not make myself look silly!

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Hi Virigil! So sorry for a late response. How did your ramp go? I hope that this article was able to help and guide you.

    • John Walton

      Hi Virigil! So sorry for a late response. How did your ramp go? I hope that this article was able to help and guide you.

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