This DIY homemade pool ladder for dogs, aka “the Doggy Dock,” is an excellent way to create an easy entry/exit for your pet into the pool.
We taught our sweet girl how to climb out of the pool using a ladder to ensure her safety should she accidentally fall into the pool. However, unlike many dogs, she does NOT enjoy jumping into the pool from the sides and needed a better entry option.
We priced out pool ladders for dogs and found them to be rather expensive, many of them over $200! So here’s how we made our own for less than $35 total.
This easy homemade entry ramp doggy dock floating ramp also serves as an excellent exit ramp as well if your dog hasn’t been trained how to climb a ladder.
The number of pool noodles required is dependent on the weight of your pet. The commercial rubber mat that we chose to use is quite hefty in weight as well, so we don’t recommend using thin pool noodles.
DIY Dog Ramp for Swimming Pool, See it in Action
How to Make a Pool Ladder for Dogs
1 To begin with, you’ll need a 36″x36″ Commercial Interlok Fatigue Rubber Mat, two pool noodles, some extra long zip ties, and a decent utility knife. I found this mat in stock at our local tractor supply, but they’re available on Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot, and Menards as well.
2 Using a utility knife, cut off one section of the mat, 12″x 36″. Since I was doing this in the middle of my living room, I used a small strip of scrap wood that I happened to have lying around to prevent marking up the floor. The mat is quite thick, so you’ll need to exert decent pressure to cut all the way through it the first time.
3 From the 1’x3′ section, remove one square, again, using the utility knife. If you don’t like the tabs sticking off the sides, you can trim them off with a utility knife.
At this point, decide whether you want the mat face up or face down. The underside of the mat contains bumps, which is excellent for traction for the dog, while the topside is smooth.
It seems like it would be a no-brainer; obviously, you want traction- however, we wanted this dog pool ramp to double as a pool float for Luna to rest in the water, so having the bumps topside wasn’t optimal.
4 Place the 1’x2′ square (2 section piece) along the top of the mat, lining up the edges.
5 Run zip ties through the holes, every other hole, securing the sections together. If you’re using cheaper zip ties, you may want to secure the sections together at every hole for extra durability.
While my zip ties weren’t the cheap quality variety, our dog is 75 pounds, so we opted to use one at every section for strength. The last thing I want is for a section to come apart under the pup’s feet and scare her!
If you want the mat to be reversible, when you tighten the zip ties, ensure the small nut piece fits securely into the hole, so it won’t stick out regardless of whether the doggy dock is facing up or down. Otherwise, your pets’ feet will get poked with the trimmed zip tie- which HURTS and could cut his/her feet.
6 Place one of the pool noodles, flush at the end along the very edge of the rubber mat, and secure it every 10-12 inches with a zip tie.
The number of pool noodles needed is entirely dependent on the size and weight of your dog.
For example, Luna is 75 pounds, we’ve opted to use two large Big Lots pool noodles. Having the noodles secured on the sides allows the mat to rest in the water as a floating dock of sorts so she can rest between bouts of play, rather than just as an entry/exit point for the pool.
Repeat for the other side.
7 Trim all the excess tails off the zip ties. If you want the entire mat to be a flotation device, attach pool noodle pieces to the undersides of both ends as well.
If the pool noodle is too long, you can trim it easily using a serrated knife. The cut pieces can also be affixed under the mat for additional flotation support if deemed necessary.
Attaching the Dog Pool Ladder
9 Affix the homemade doggy ladder to the sides of the pool. String rope through the holes of the mat and tie it to the decking or pool ladder.
You could also use bungee cords depending on the type of fencing/edging around your pool. (see the direct deck attachment update below)
How to Teach Your Dog to Use The Homemade Pool Ladder for Dogs
Teaching your dog how to use their new doggy dock is very simple. You’ll need to grab a treat or two, a favorite toy and be ready to encourage your furbaby to have some fun!
- Take a favorite toy and roll it down the dock into the water.
- The dog will naturally follow the toy into the water to retrieve it.
- Stand at the top of the doggy dock pool ladder and encourage your pet to bring the toy back to you.
- Your pet will automatically turn towards your voice, and when the doggy dock brushes against their chest, they’ll climb up on it.
- Reward your dog with more play, or a treat. Tell them how smart they are and that they’re the best dog ever, because that’s the truth.
Homemade Pool Ladder for Dog Instructions
- Using a utility knife, cut off one section of the mat, 12″x36″.
- From the 1’x3′ section, remove one square, again, using the utility knife.
- Place the 1’x2′ square (2 section piece) along the top of the mat, lining up the edges.
- Run zip ties through the holes, every other hole, securing the sections together.
- Place one of the pool noodles, flush at the end along the very edge of the rubber mat and secure it every 10-12 inches with a zip tie.
- Repeat for the other side.
- Affix the homemade doggy ladder to the sides of the pool.
**Doggy Dock aka Doggy Pool Ladder Update**
Now that our sweet Luna has had ample time to test out and play on her new doggy dock in her pool, we made a few changes and alternations. First, she wasn’t overly thrilled at the flimsiness of the dock. It didn’t quite have enough support for her weight and liking.
So, I purchased two more medium-thickness pool noodles from the Dollar store and added them to the underside of her doggy dock.
Also, as you can see from the above photo, I cut off a section off about 10 inches of length of pool noodle on the sides. This is because I decided to affix the ramp directly to the decking around the pool.
First, I used the leftover square to place on the decking edge to mark the spot for drilling. Then, I drilled the holes in the deck.
Run the zip tie through a washer, honestly, I don’t what size these are, I found a mess-load of them in the garage, (sorry). If you don’t run the ziptie through the washer first, it won’t fit and you’ll have to take it off and start again, don’t ask how I know, haha.
Once all of the zip ties have been run through the decking and the mat, tighten them as closely to the “circles” as possible.
If you have the ability to go under the decking, run the zip tie up through the deck and down so they’re tightened underneath instead.
Trim the zip ties and use a lighter to melt the sharp edges of the cut zip tie away. Once I heated it, I used a spoon to press on the hot plastic to flatten it a bit. This ensures that your pup (or kids) won’t accidentally cut their feet!
Here’s how it looks once the doggy dock has been attached to the decking. You can seed that for each zip tie, two washers were used to help prevent wear and tear on the rubber mat as it’s used.
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Also, if your pet dislikes getting water in their ears or has a difficult time keeping their head above water while swimming, here’s how to make a pool noodle swim collar for dogs.