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Old 30-04-2015, 04:00   #1
JMK
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Dogs and companionway ladder

We're getting ready to move aboard our boat with two dogs (a Golden Retriever and a Labrador Retriever). The companionway steps into our boat are pretty steep, but I can build a new one that I can move out 14" to decrease the angle, but it will still be more than stairs. Any tips on training/acclimating bigger (80+ pound) dogs to using companionway stairs?

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Old 30-04-2015, 06:48   #2
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

Being both labs, I'd say holding some food at the other end of the ladder should work
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Old 30-04-2015, 07:17   #3
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

Angus, our 40kg labradoodle has no problem going down the steps, couple of paws on a middle step and a thump later he is down. Going up more of a problem. He has done it once but normally needs a shove with me standing behind him. Trouble is the dog always wants to be near you so if you are up and down the hatch the dog wants to go too. Can be tiring lifting 40kgs several dozen times a day.

Our last pug took a different approach. Inky (black pug) would stand a the top of the companion way and launch herself at you at shoulder height hoping you would catch her. She had no fear leaping off into space. 9kgs of black fur flying at your throat can be interesting.

Good luck
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Old 02-05-2015, 06:49   #4
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

With my golden I have found that just providing a little steady pressure to his hips will give him the confidence to go up himself.


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Old 02-05-2015, 10:49   #5
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

We live aboard our c&c 110, with our (smaller) lab who weighs 65 lbs. I'm only 5'1", so the companionway stairs end at chin height for me. Despite this, our black mutt flies up those stairs, seemingly without even thinking about it. Granted, putting her breakfast outside helps with her motivation. Also, she hasn't ever known anything but living on a boat, as we got her when she was 8 weeks old and we lived on our 32'. Those steps were much shorter (2 plus a counter, instead of 4 legit narrow steps). Regardless up is no issue.

Coming down is another matter. Old boat she could just jump directly onto the icebox, starboard settee and down. New boat we had been lifting her in, by encouraging her to climb onto my shoulder, and hopefully not squirm so much we both fall over). Thursday night though, I had placed a pot on the floor for her to "clean" (lucky dog!) While she was still outside. Turned back to the sink and she hopped right inside all by herself. Paws on the first step and just launched herself in - food is a mighty powerful motivator for this one! She was fine, but we are not going to encourage that,as we aren't too keen on a hefty vet bill for a slip/fall from a 4' drop onto a smooth surface (even with non-skid grips on the floor).
That being said, the 12" gap from the side deck to the sturdy aluminum dock steps defeats her more often than not.


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Old 02-05-2015, 11:28   #6
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

Some dogs will patiently lay down and wait forever. They don't do "steps" or ladders at all, of any kind, period. And with the bigger dogs, as they get older many suffer arthritis and hip dysplasia and can't handle the motion. So...good luck with that, I hope yours are more willing to try out a new thing.


You might need to use a longer ramp of some kind, that extends down into the main cabin but can fold or be stowed when the humans need access. Sometimes the hunting stores (Cabela's) have doggie ramps intended for waterdogs to re-enter small boats, and those can be adapted.
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Old 02-05-2015, 11:42   #7
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

Why not help them both ways? I think your mod will help, I'd give them as much room/wider steps fore and aft as you can.
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Old 02-05-2015, 23:25   #8
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

I have a 12 Years old 42 Kg Labrador that needs to get help from us to go up or down and I do it every time he ask for. Hope I have somebody to help me the some way when I get is age.
he loves sailing and I love is company.
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Old 03-05-2015, 03:52   #9
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

Thanks for the info from everybody's experiences. I can only change the steps so much without running into the salon table (center cockpit boat) so I can't take the ramp route. They are getting older (7 and 6) so I am thinking that it will be a lot of help and coaxing up and down with more lifting on my part. Feeding out in the cockpit will help some. We'll see how it goes this summer as we get them used to the boat before moving on full time this fall.
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Old 03-05-2015, 04:06   #10
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
Our last pug took a different approach. Inky (black pug) would stand a the top of the companion way and launch herself at you at shoulder height hoping you would catch her. She had no fear leaping off into space. 9kgs of black fur flying at your throat can be interesting.

Good luck
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Old 03-05-2015, 10:01   #11
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

My 80 lb Bassett Hound is an expert on the my centre cockpit stairs. He lies down and does his best sad eyes until I carry him either up or down.

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Old 03-05-2015, 10:26   #12
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

Just occurred to me since I have a similar problem. One dog only weighs about 20 lb so he's not too much of a problem. However the other guy is around 40 squirming lb

I've recently been looking at life jackets for them that have retrieval handles.

I'm wondering if I could rig a small block and tackle on the underside of the companion way. Clip onto the harness handle and either lower or raise away??

Rich


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Old 03-05-2015, 10:28   #13
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

Mine, a 60 lb mix, just did it. Jumps up and down without a thought. Why dont you see how they get on?
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:54   #14
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMK View Post
Thanks for the info from everybody's experiences. I can only change the steps so much without running into the salon table (center cockpit boat) so I can't take the ramp route.
You could use a small ramp going from the steps, at a shallow angle, to the table. The dogs would need help on-to and down-from the table.

I had a similar problem getting two big Labradors from the stern of a trawler I used to have down to the swim platform, a drop of 1.5 metres. I built a temporary plywood structure that consisted of two platforms (each with a surface of around half a metre square) which created, in essence a two-step stair up to the deck. Even though each step was half a metre high, the dogs had no problem because the steps were so wide. (Sorry I don't have a photograph of this set-up but it worked very well.) You might consider something similar that you could fold away after use.
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Old 03-05-2015, 12:09   #15
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Re: Dogs and companionway ladder

Quote:
Originally Posted by lsal View Post
I have a 12 Years old 42 Kg Labrador that needs to get help from us to go up or down and I do it every time he ask for. Hope I have somebody to help me the some way when I get is age.
he loves sailing and I love is company.


One thought for smaller dogs; How about a portlite in the cockpit footwell (vertical) side? I was on someone's boat once and it had a portlite there for the quarter berth, their cat came in and out there... just jumped down onto the berth. A larger portlite could accommodate a dog to maybe 30 #.
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