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Old 03-08-2003, 22:31   #1
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Dog down companionway

In the process of escaping land, my dog must go with me. I'm concerned about his ability to get down companionway, and wondering if any boats have not-so-steep steps. Or, if anyone knows of any modifications to make it easier for Axel.... He's about 2 years old, 40 lbs, in excellent shape. (pic of he and me and my nephew) I believe he could jump up, but down would be a new concept.
thanks for any advice...
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Old 04-08-2003, 12:46   #2
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Jump!

Our little 12 pound Shi Tzu who was raised aboard our 30 footer used to jump from the top step to the starboard quarter berth, then to the sole. Eventually, that was too much trouble and she started to just jump from the top directly to the sole, accompanied by a huge (for a little dog) exhale as the breath was forced out. Even though it was three feet, it never seemed to hurt her.
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Old 13-07-2008, 02:11   #3
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it want do the him any harm
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Old 13-07-2008, 06:00   #4
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This is a problem for dogs too big to be carried below, and most yachts have a steep companionway.
Tenknots, you want to be cautious about letting your shitz jump because although it seems to have no effect now; the ramifications don't appear until old age, when suddenly back and neck problems can be terrible..I learned this the hard way with my doggie's spine when she got old. Even little jumps on and off the bed should be discouraged. Also, a harness is so much better than a collar, as its the point specific yanks on a collar that injure the dog's neck vertebrae.
mbauer, the only real solution is a ramp. It might be possible to rig up something removeable that goes to a side berth; otherwise, you should carry him up and down.
I always toyed with the idea of installing a waterproof hatch on the bulkhead next to the companionway that would allow my dog to hop through to the berth below, but never did it as without a dodger, that is where I hide with my back against that bulkhead.
You can make a nice, shaded corner for him in the cockpit if there is room; or maybe a little box home cut and glassed into a lazerette wall where he could be protected from waves and whipping sheets?
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Old 13-07-2008, 06:31   #5
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Hi started to post you but got side tracked.... My boss , cooper has just weighed in at 42 KG. He is an old boy, about 13 years plus. He has got the down companionway bit, pretty good. A kind of a launch, and catch each step as it whistles passed. Going up?? Bloody gravity.... I have to "give a little helping hand" . He has been with me 24/7 for ever so I do what I can to help. Having a clear run way seems to help. I am sure that with smaller (and younger) dogs , it would be no problem....did I tell you about the time he started to climb a ladder behind me........
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Old 13-07-2008, 07:10   #6
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Carpet or a strip of felt glued to the edge of the steps will give him something to grip to while climbing. It helped in the case of our dog his feet used to slip on the wood surface.
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Old 13-07-2008, 11:20   #7
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both our dogs go up and down no problem, although they both have their own "styles" of doing so. I would coax him up and down with treats and pretty soon he'll have it down.
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Old 13-07-2008, 16:00   #8
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While many dogs can deal with steps and ladders to some degree, I'd suggest putting together something like a gangplank that the dog can use as a ramp, which can of course always double as a gangplank for you. Something that can "hook" into your top step or the companionway, so it is easy for you to lift aside, but secure for the dog.
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Old 13-07-2008, 16:58   #9
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I'd be very careful about asking a big dog to jump down. With many breeds, even jumping out of a relatively low SUV repeatedly will cause them harm over time to their joints, and will speed the time when arthritis makes movement difficult.

With any breed, I'd seek the advice of a qualified vet.

Our boss, Max, weighs in at about 76lbs these days, and he's getting up there in age (10+). No way could he jump from the companionway down the more than 5' to the cabin sole. I help him both up and down.

Coming down, he's learned to put his paws on my shoulders, and as I back away from the ladder he puts his hind paws on my stomach. I carry him into the cabin and drop him on a bunk or settee.

Going up, he puts his front paws as far up the ladder as he can reach, and I boost him into the cockpit.

He jumps into the inflatable just fine, and the soft tubes make for an easy landing. I usually cover them with a thick towel both for his protection and to help the tubes from getting scratched up.

Here's Max on cockpit watch at the SSCA gam in Isleboro, ME last year:
Gallery :: Born Free Maine Trip 2007 :: DSC_0274c

Bill
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Old 13-07-2008, 19:00   #10
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Mine don't jump they just walk right down them and up them, but they are small dogs, so it may be a little more difficult with larger pets.
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Old 13-07-2008, 19:41   #11
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We just have to carry our Boston Terrier up and down the ladder -- it's way too far for her to jump, and it's truly a steep "ladder", not stairs, so no way she can get up or down it on her own. It also ends right in front of a galley cabinet so would be too steep an area to set up any sort of ramp. But it's not too hard carrying a smaller dog around, and provides a bit of an upper body workout for me. I definitely couldn't do it with a large dog!

I do admire boats that have actual stairs down to below -- maybe someday...

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Old 14-07-2008, 15:28   #12
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Both my dogs walk up and down the steps without a problem (even the out of shape pug can do it). The stairs are pretty gradual and they are small dogs which makes it alot easier on them. We do carry them up and down when we are under way because they seem to have the same balance problems as we have but unlike us they cannot hold onto the hand rails.
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:06   #13
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hi all
i have been looking into this as i have a 4 year old german shepherd and by the time we are looking to go will be closer to 7/8 years old so between the first mate and the dog we are looking at the hunter 450 with a great staircase and so far its the only one i have seen so far with a kind of animal friendly access
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:27   #14
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Since cruising without my friend is not an option (where would Han Solo be without Chewbacca?), I plan to make a less-steep and removable set of steps for him (or extend out the existing steps by a few inches). I'll lose galley floor space, but that's the price. For now, I carry him up/down (black lab, ~50lbs).
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Old 05-08-2008, 11:46   #15
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Oh, just wanted to mention something related. My swim ladder is similarly too steep for my dog. What I found that works, is I bought a cheapo inflatable dinghy from amazon.com (spent $50), flip it upside down and tie a heavy blanket over it. Instant doggie swim platform.
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