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Old 01-02-2021, 12:44 PM   #1
City: Boston
Join Date: Jun 2020
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Large Dogs

I tried searching on this and was surprised to not find any threads. I am somewhat stuck. As an owner of a large dog (70-75 pounds), has anyone come up with ways to board a dog on an aft cabin? I know stairs at the dock but I want to be able to get him in and out of a dingy and swim with him.

I'd love to hear from people who overcame this issue.

I feel very limited in my search for a boat due to my best friend.

I don't have to have an aft cabin, I just don't want to limit my options if I don't need too.


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Old 01-02-2021, 12:56 PM   #2
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Big dogs and boats are a difficult combination. We began our live aboard life with a GSD, but once we lost him to a sudden stroke we decided to be pet less for the first time in over 30 years. We had a large cockpit and stairs, but he struggled constantly. Not climbing, but descending the stairs and short ladders, he was a big boy and he had trouble stopping on the bottom step. We never did find a way to make things easier for him.....

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Old 01-02-2021, 01:01 PM   #3
City: Detroit
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Water access has been a very big search criteria for me. My 120 lb German Shepherd loves the water and I take him with me wherever we go. There are many nice FDMY's and aft cabin boats that have VERY steep and many steps on the transom. My thinking is this. 1. Look for a boat with a cockpit or some other easier form of water entry. 2. Consider the removal of the transom mounted steps and install a circular staircase or a molded fiberglass custom staircase onto the swim platform. I have seen circular staircases made by a company called "pipe fitters?" or pipe something. You might also consider some kind of Marquipt? staircase that retracts or folds back into or onto the deck somewhere. If I should have to compromise into an aft cabin, my plan is to install a stair system in place of the ladder system. My dog, while large, is quite agile and he might even handle the ladder better than I could, but like me he will age and need some help. Good luck. Bill
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:11 PM   #4
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My 70-75 dog wears a life jacket with a handle and I pick him up with handle and lower him to swim grid. Getting out he threads the needle and jumps on board under hand rail.
Must plan for when we are both older.

I know I could do that with moparham 120 lb shepard
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:19 PM   #5
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Older motoryacht uses to have stairs on the side that dropped down parallel with the hull and a small landing at base and on top. Somehow they would fold up against the lifelines.

These are aftermarket companies that I'm sure could set you up...... For a cost (gulp....looks like nice work)
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:32 PM   #6
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Cockpit boat, have door created in side. Dog would be able to easily get into the boat through the door....

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Old 01-02-2021, 01:41 PM   #7
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I would think that an act door to allow access from the swim platform would allow easy on/off. Then depending on the boat the dog could enter through the main or side door. If stairs to v-berth are an issue then have him sleep in the salon area
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:46 PM   #8
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Maybe install a doggie door in the transom?
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:46 PM   #9
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To my way of thinking, I agree with Sue (Spinner). A cockpit boat with a swim platform would greatly simplify getting a larger dog in and out of a dinghy. If the dinghy was mounted on the swim grid (eg. Roskelly Olsen, Seawise, Weaver davits, etc.) it would all be very easy. For swimming, just launch the dinghy (takes about 2 minutes), tie it to the boat, and use the swim platform as normal.

It does limit your boat choice somewhat, but there are many makes and models that could work.
Nanaimo, BC
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Old 01-02-2021, 01:53 PM   #10
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The search on TF can be frustrating and miss lots of good threads. Have a look at this rather lengthy thread getting an 80 pound dog aboard that may give you some useful ideas.

If you must take pup with you then my advice is to buy a boat that makes it easy. You'll be doing this a lot.

One of our boxes to check when purchasing was an aft cockpit with a transom door that made an easy transition cockpit to swim step. I would even go so far if purchasing again to buy with the saloon, where we spend most our time, on the same level as the cockpit. We didn't buy that boat and have struggled with that bad decision every day of use.
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Old 01-02-2021, 02:56 PM   #11
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We have a life jacket for our 85 pound Lab. He loves wearing it since he gets a treat when he gets into it. It has 2 handles so it is easy to pick him up. When he swims off the swim platform i put his front feet on the top step of the ladder and say ďOKĒ and he jumps up as I give him a boost. When either one of us can no longer do this we have a crane for the dinghy motor that will likely work to lift him up to the sundeck level. This is the PFD that we got on Amazon. Here is a photo of the crane on the port side.

This is the PFD.
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Old 01-02-2021, 03:07 PM   #12
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Second Portage Bay's input on buying a dog friendly boat. Our recent boat search parameters included stairs to the fly bridge, transom door onto large swim deck, deep walk around sides and no ladders. Yes, restricted options also along with price. Was also for our own aging concern, as plan to keep boat 10-15 years if health allows. Our 2 dogs, #40 and #80 require no lifting and only minimal help to use dingy. Dogs will be part of our boating adventure, along with grandkids who benefit from same allowances.
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Old 01-02-2021, 03:22 PM   #13
City: Rochester, NY
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With no cockpit and side / aft decks about 4 feet off the water, our 55 lb standard poodle has no trouble jumping up/down to/from docks. Fortunately, he's a very good jumper. Haven't gotten a dinghy or quite figured out how to get him in one yet, but we've taken him swimming a few times. With a PFD on, we've just lifted him the 3.5 feet from the deck to the swim platform. It's a bit awkward to do, but manageable.

We've been trying to figure out some kind of ramp setup to get him from the side deck directly to the water or a dinghy, but haven't got a definite answer yet.
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Old 01-02-2021, 04:03 PM   #14
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If you go the swim step route, beware changing dinghies part way into your dogs life.

I won't go too deep into the details, but when technique and communications get changed and your 130+ pound dog is hanging from the swim step by his forelegs, the only way to get him aboard is to grab onto the rail with one hand, reach down between his back legs with the other hand, and haul him up.

Make sure to make eye contact first to gain approval, Dude to Dude, before you go messing around down there!
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Old 01-02-2021, 04:53 PM   #15
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Great to know there are lots of dog lovers out there.

Portage Bay, thanks for the other thread. It had lots of great ideas.

So I feel a lot more confident in getting the dog up an aft cabin but now I need to do a search for getting the dog on the swim platform from the water. Especially if it is my wife or kids that need to do it.
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Old 01-02-2021, 05:01 PM   #16
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Here you go.
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Old 01-02-2021, 05:37 PM   #17
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I've had a series of black labs. I built a aluminum ramp/stairs that attaches to my swim platform. Originally for getting out of the water when diving with tanks, my labs figured out quickly how to get themselves out. Each one in their time learned they could go swimming on their own or swam to shore in unpopulated areas.
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Old 01-02-2021, 06:01 PM   #18
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Here is what we have found with our 40lbs spider monkey.

1) she can get up things easier than going down... Doggo front flips horrify the misses.

2) Cockpits are great - I like to fish, but it's also a great place to wash down the dog before letting loose. Especially after one rolls in dead seal carcass. So our preference is sedan style or cockpit aft cabins. With a cockpit you can give up some space for stairs. I also like to fish/crab/shrimp so being able to do things at the water level from the big boat is a plus.
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Old 01-02-2021, 09:16 PM   #19
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Our 10 year old, 90lb lab/pit mix pretty much grew up on our boats, she loves fishing/boating/paddle boarding with an irrational fever. For a long time the stairs from our cockpit to the FB presented no issues for her, but lately she is getting a little afraid of them. She also sometimes has issues getting out of the cockpit up onto a fixed dock. One tip I learned on here is that dogs don't have great control over their aft legs, they just sort of follow their forelegs, so it helps to line them up on the steps for them.

I second what was said above about a life jacket with a sturdy handle in the middle of the back. Even on our flats boat, which has about 10" of freeboard, it can be a challenge to get her out of the water up on to boat without it.

We are very glad that the big boat has a cockpit with a transom door and direct access to the swim platform. I understand that sometimes people have an aft cabin boat first and end up with a big dog later. That would mean needing to find a work around to the access problem. But since you don't have a boat yet, and a big dog is an important part of your life, I wouldn't even consider an aft cabin boat without a cockpit, or worse yet a sundeck.

When we go into marinas we usually go in bow first so that we can launch the dink, put the dog in it, then take her to a beach or floating dock. It makes life so much easier.
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Old 01-03-2021, 01:28 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by moparharn View Post
of those, we have the "pet loader'. It was pricey, but when mounted on the swim step, the bottom step is down in the water far enough that our mutts can just walk up. Works fine for all three. large poodle, small blue healer, and overweight, old girl Aussie.

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Day Island Washington
1994 Bayliner 4788
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