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Tips For Choosing & Using An RV Dog Ramp

As soon as Buster started experiencing weakness in his hind legs, we knew it was time to invest in a dog ramp. At 80 pounds, carrying him was not an option. And watching him struggle up the steep steps of our motorhome was painful for us all.

It was also important that we move quickly. First, because we didn’t want him to fall and injure himself, or developing a fear of the steps. And second, because it was going to take some time to train him to use the ramp.

Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com

 

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you!*

Traveling With Senior Dogs

It’s not unusual for German Shepherds to develop weakness, painfulness, or even neurological issues in their hind legs as they age. And as Buster’s birthdays have ticked by, it’s something we’ve watched for. He’ll be turning 11 soon, and we’re lucky not to have faced any mobility challenges with him before now.

We first noticed a problem when the toenails on his back paws occasionally scraped when he walked. Then he seemed to be hesitating a bit before jumping into the car. Recently he’s started having trouble climbing the steps into the motorhome.

Buster the dog with arthritis wearing boots to protect his paws

The good news is that Buster’s not in pain. We saw the veterinarian this week, and while Buster has some weakness in his back end, but there’s no indication he’s hurting. We’ve scheduled acupuncture treatments for him, and we’ll be exploring other remedies. But in the meantime we’re doing what we can to make life a little easier for him. And that includes training him to use a dog ramp to get in and out of the RV.

READ MORE ⇒  about how we’re helping Buster keep going, despite his arthritis

Choosing the Right Dog Ramp

Though Buster was still navigating the motorhome stairs alright most of the time, we didn’t wait to order a collapsable dog ramp. He could strain a muscle or tear a ligament trying to do more than his body was able. And he’s never been the most graceful dog – losing his balance on the steps could easily have ended in a fall. Plus, we needed time to train him to use the ramp before he really needed it.

Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com

Choosing the dog ramp was fairly easy. We have two steps outside the motorhome and three inside, so we wanted a ramp long enough to avoid making the climb too steep. The longest ramp we could find that could be packed and stowed for travel was 8 feet.

At that length, the ramp allows us to take three steps out of the equation, but still requires Buster to manage two steps on his own. If we position the ramp any higher, Buster’s uncomfortable with the incline, but a longer ramp would be unmanageable in the Winnebago. This feel like a good compromise.

Goplus 8-foot Pet Ramp

The second thing we were looking for was a good, non-skid surface for Buster to walk on. This ramp is covered in what feels like course sandpaper – perfect for providing secure doggy footing.

Lastly, I needed a dog ramp that was light and easy to use. This ramp is made of aluminum, so it weighs just 19 pounds and is a cinch to set up and take down. It folds in half, clips closed, and has a carry handle, so storing it when we’re ready to hit the road isn’t a problem either.

The other nice thing is that, at 15 inches wide, there’s just enough space for us to walk down the steps alongside the ramp when it’s set up. But, with a weight capacity of 250 pounds, the ramp will hold Buster and me at the same time.

 

Tips for Using a Dog Ramp in Your RV or Motorhome

Every dog is different, and we had no idea how Buster would react to his new ramp. When it arrived we set it up, grabbed the treats, and encouraged him to give it a try. He was having none of it! He put his front paws on the ramp, but wouldn’t go any further. It quickly became clear this was going to require a different approach.

READ MORE ⇒  See How Buster’s Now Using A Wheel Chair To Enjoy Life

Baby steps often work best in training new behaviors, so we started teaching Buster to use the ramp with it lying flat on the ground. At first he was leery, but with some rewards and a lot of praise, his confidence grew.

Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com

We left the ramp where Buster could walk across it multiple times a day. It wasn’t long before it became part of his normal routine.

The next stage was to raise one end of the ramp a bit and get Buster used to some incline and decline. A wooden step provided a stable base, and again he started out nervously. But after a few days of practice he had the hang of things.

Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com

Placing a door mat at the end of the ramp helped Buster learn not to jump off before he got to the end. If his paws didn’t hit the mat, there was no treat for that attempt!

Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com

Buster’s always picked things up pretty quickly, and it wasn’t long before it was time to raise the bar again. After he’d had time to acclimate to the ramp, moving to RV steps was a breeze. He took one trip on the lowest step, one on the second step, and then was ready to climb the ramp in it’s highest position.

Tips for Choosing and Using an RV Dog Ramp | GoPetFriendly.com

Facing the fact that Buster’s getting older isn’t easy. But we’re following our happy boy’s lead and not getting ahead of ourselves. For now, we’re just glad to be able to help make his senior years a little easier.

 

Gear Used in This Post:
(Affiliate Links)

Goplus Pet Ramp

Ageless Paws Pet Treats

Paw Lifestyle Treat Bag

Freedom No-Pull Harness

Alcott Weekender Leash

See all the gear we use to make traveling with our pets easier, safer, and more fun!

 

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  • Leea says:

    I have a 3 yr old pit and she recently almost tore 3 of her nails out on the steps to our 5th wheel. She’s very careful now but, besides covering the steps, could a wooden ramp work? We don’t have much room for a metal one. Any suggestions especially a DIY

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Leea! I’m so sorry to hear that your pup hurt herself on your stairs – poor girl. I think that a wooden ramp would work as well as a metal or plastic one, so whatever works best for your and her. Good luck!

  • Mary Barrow says:

    I am experiencing this same problem with my little dog and the stairs going up into our Winnebago motor home. I chose a folding in half (8 foot) ramp but my husband is not crazy about how in the way it is if he wants to go in plus you cannot close the door. What if anything did you do about this? My dogs will use the ramp with absolutely no problem, my only problem is my husband.

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Mary! Rod and I adapted pretty quickly to using the stairs with the ramp on them. It was either that, or set the ramp up and take it down every time Buster went in and out of the motorhome. Also, we only use the ramp to eliminate the first two steps (or three if we’re using the screen door during the day). So far, that’s been enough for Buster. I’m not sure that helps you, but I wish you all the best. Safe travels!

  • JILL FOUNTAIN says:

    We will be traveling with a Great Pyrenees. I am enjoying seeing your tips. We will definitely be getting this ramp!

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Jill! The ramp has been wonderful for Buster – especially when the front end of the RV needs to be raised for us to be level. I’m so glad our experience could help you, and waggin’ trails!

  • Nancy in Maryland says:

    Your Buster looks EXACTLY like my Molly – right down to the markings on the chest and eyes. She is also elderly at 12.5 years young! We rescued her at ~10 years old. Thanks for posting all the great tips and ideas. We will be taking Mo’ RVing for the first time in April 2019 (actually it will be my first time renting an RV too). We are not sure how she will handle the actual RV itself. Do you have any recommendations on getting her acquainted with traveling in the RV? She does pretty good in the car – she has only once gotten sick (in the car!).

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Nancy! I sure hope you’ll share some photos from your RV trip with Molly!
      In my experience, dogs that do well in the car have no trouble acclimating the the RV. That being said, there are a few additional things to think about on an RV trip. I’ve gathered all my best tips for RVing with pets in this post: https://blog.gopetfriendly.com/tips-for-rving-with-pets/

      I hope that helps! Let me know if there’s anything else I can do, and waggin’ trails to you both!

  • Liz says:

    What an awesome website! Lots of great ideas. Thanks! Liz

  • Darlene says:

    Where can I find dog ramp for RV?

    • Amy at GoPetFriendly.com says:

      Hi Darlene! I bought our ramp for Buster on Amazon. If you click the links above it will take you to the ramp I decided on. We’ve been using it for almost a year now, and I have no complaints!

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