RVing with senior dogs can present unique challenges. If your dog has mobility issues, looking into RV dog ramps might be a great solution!

A Golden Retriever using an RV dog ramp
 

When our dog, Buster, started experiencing weakness in his hind legs, we knew it was time to invest in a dog ramp. At 80 pounds, carrying him in and out of the motorhome was not an option. And watching him struggle up the steep steps was difficult for us all. What if he fell and injured himself, or developed a fear of the steps?

We also knew that it would take some time to train him to use the ramp. And it was best to get started on that while he still had enough strength.

Buster's Birthday 2015

When Buster passed on, we gave his ramp to Kai, a 10-year-old Golden Retriever, who was having some trouble with her hips. She took to the ramp right away, and is barreling in and out of her RV again!

Two Golden Retrievers using an RV dog ramp
 

Traveling With Senior Dogs

It’s not unusual for large dogs to develop weakness, painfulness, or even neurological issues in their hind legs as they age. Our first hint that Buster was having trouble came when he was about eleven years old.

For our dog Kai, the challenges with her hips started around her 10th birthday. But she’s a proud dog and didn’t want any help from her people! We knew that Kai would really appreciate Buster’s ramp. And it was the perfect time to teach her to use it – before her symptoms got worse.

READ MORE ⇒  Tips for RVing With Pets

Dog at a pet friendly campground in front of man playing guitar

The time to get a portable dog ramp is when your dog begins having difficulty on the stairs, but before he really needs it.

Dogs are great at ignoring pain and could easily strain a muscle or tear a ligament trying to do more than their bodies are able. If your dog were to hesitate or lose his balance on the steps, it could easily end in a fall.

 

Choosing the Right Dog Ramp

When you know what you want, choosing a dog ramp is easy. RV steps are fairly steep, so we looked for a long ramp to make Buster’s climb more gradual. The longest ramp we found that could be easily packed and stowed for travel was 8 feet.

At that length, the ramp covered the three bottom steps and Buster still had to manage the last two on his own. Positioning the ramp any higher made Buster uncomfortable with the incline. But getting a longer ramp would have been unmanageable in the Winnebago. This ramp was the best compromise.

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

Our second requirement was for dog ramps with a non-skid walking surface. The Range Powersports ramp is covered in what feels like course sandpaper, which provides excellent doggy footing in wet or dry conditions.

Lastly, I needed a dog ramp that was lightweight and easy to use. This ramp is made of aluminum and weighs just 21 pounds, so it’s a breeze to set up and take down for easy storage.

And 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.

Motorhome featuring a dog ramp with slip resistant surface. RV is parked at dog friendly Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas, Texas

An added benefit is that this portable dog ramp is just 15 inches wide. That gave us enough space to walk up and down the steps alongside the portable ramp when it was set up. But, with a weight capacity of 250 pounds, the ramp could easily hold Buster and me at the same time.

 

Stairs Make It Easier To Use A Dog Ramp In Your Motorhome

One of our long-time friends and fellow pet owners and travelers, Chris A., shared their experience using a folding stairs in combination with a dog ramp to make getting in and out of their coach easier for their dog, Treata. It’s such a great idea, I asked her to share it with all of you! Here’s what she said:

Helping Treata

When our dog Treata was diagnosed with an extruded disc in her spine which resulted in surgery, we were told from that day forward she should avoid steps as much as possible. Traveling in a motorhome presented a problem, especially since the door of our coach sits 31” up from the ground! Also, the steps getting in and out of the motorhome were narrow and steep, which led us to research various ideas to remedy our new life situation. 

Given the height of our coach, the angle of the dog ramps available would be too steep for Treata to use. Additionally, we wanted to be able to leave the ramp up all the time, and with the motorhome steps being so narrow didn’t want to have to try to navigate the ramp ourselves. Our search led us to RV-CO.com. They offered aluminum, collapsible RV stairs and decks that seemed to be just the fit for us.

Side view of folding deck and stairs set up against a motorhome
Photo copyright: Chris A.
 

Collapsible RV Stairs And Deck

We purchased the deck extension and the stand alone steps. This gave us some options depending on how much space we had in our camp sites.

The top step is 19 inches deep, and the deck extension gave us an additional 19 inches to come out the door before starting down the steps. The steps and deck are both 31 inches wide. So, with the steps and deck installed together, you walk out onto a deck area that is 31 inches wide and 38 inches deep. Nice! 

Folding deck and stairs set up against a motorhome
Photo copyright: Chris A.

If you need more room, they also sell stand-alone decks measuring 3 feet by 3 feet and 4 feet by 4 feet. The height on all of the products are adjustable to fit your individual needs. The stairs themselves can be ordered with whatever rise of the steps you want as well. 

We then purchased a foldable 8-foot aluminum pet ramp to finish off our set up.

Folding deck and stairs with a dog ramp set up against a motorhome
Photo copyright: Chris A.
 

Set-up Options

We attached a blue pool noodle to the edge of the platform that rests alongside the motorhome to avoid any scratching or scraping that might occur.  Another section of noodle goes around the stair railing to act as a bumper and protect the door from the railing.

While we prefer to have the ramp go straight down the stairs – which allows plenty of room for us to walk up and down alongside the ramp – there are times when our campsite doesn’t have the space needed to do that. In those cases, we can run the ramp off the side of the deck. 

Folding deck and stairs with a dog ramp set up against a motorhome
Photo copyright: Chris A.

Or we can remove the deck, lay it under the ramp, and just use the steps.

Folding stairs with a dog ramp set up against a motorhome
Photo copyright: Chris A.
 

Packing Up

Of course, storage space is always a consideration in a motorhome! We tow a Honda CRV, and the steps, deck and ramp all fold up and fit nicely in the back. 

Collapsible steps, deck, and dog ramp folded up in the storage area of a Honda CRV
Photo copyright: Chris A.

Training Your Dog to Use a Ramp

Every dog is different, and we had no idea what Buster would think of 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 that getting him acclimated to the ramp was going to take some work.

On the other hand, Kai, and her sister, Nala, were racing up and down the ramp right way!

READ MORE ⇒ Traveling With Pets To Canada From The U.S. – Tips For Crossing The Border

 

If your dog is more like Buster, keep in mind that baby steps work best when training new behaviors. We started teaching Buster to use his ramp with it lying flat on the ground. He was leery at first, 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 we could walk Buster across it multiple times a day. Within a few days it had become part of his normal routine.

The next stage was to add a bit of incline and decline. A wooden step provided a stable base, and again Buster 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 the side of the ramp. If his paws didn’t hit the mat, he didn’t get a treat!

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

Buster picked things up pretty quickly, and after about a week we were able to move the ramp to RV steps. He took one trip on the lowest step, one on the second step, and then was ready to climb the ramp in its highest position. After that, he used the ramp multiple times a day for years.

READ MORE ⇒  The Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip

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

Watching our pets age is never easy. But we were glad to help make Buster’s senior years a little more comfortable. And now we’re happy that his ramp is helping Kai continue to live an active life traveling with her family.

More Dog Ramp Options:

(Affiliate links)

Rage Powersports Pet Ramp – 6, 7, or 8-foot options, Easy Fold, Aluminum, 250 lbs Capacity, 15″ Wide, Weighs 21 lbs


Range Powersports Extra-Wide Pet Ramp – 8-foot length, Easy Fold, Aluminum, 250 lbs Capacity, 18.5″ Wide, Weighs 32 lbs


PVI Pet Access Ramp – 3-foot length, Easy Fold, Aluminum, 250 lbs Capacity, 36″ Wide, Weighs 9 lbs


PawHut Portable Folding Pet Ramp – 8-foot, Bi-fold, Aluminum, 100 lbs Capacity, 15″ Wide, Weighs 19.8 lbs


EZ-Access Suitcase Trifold Portable Ramp – 5, 6, 7, 8 or 10-foot options, 3-Fold design, Aluminum, 800 lbs Capacity, 30″ Wide, Weighs up to 30 lbs per section

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: GoPetFriendly.com LLC is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, audible.com, and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, the owner of this site earns a commission from qualifying purchases.

(Visited 52,163 times, 2 visits today)
  • This looks perfect, We had to make two ramps for inside our house, luckily they do not need to be portable so it was not so hard. Our pup cannot get upstairs to bed anymore so one of us just sleeps downstairs with him. Senior pets are the best.

    • I love that you’ve found ways to help your senior pup, Doreen. And I couldn’t agree more — there’s nothing sweeter than life with a senior pet. You guys be well!

  • My oldest and closet friend just not physically but her arthritic Pit Bull Chance has now fallen off the steps, the edge of her bed, he is suffering from getting an infection. He is 89 lbs she is 5’4″ and truly needs a sturdy enough light enough able to be lifted by small petite elderly woman. A ramp that is capable of holding him over the steps into the house Trailer. To also allow her the ability walk on it as t 150lbs. This ramp looks so wonderful. We were thinking a permanent wooden one ramp which when she returned res ad moves out of the5th wheel she rents in FL thatshe can use my t for car entry, new home Ramp. Having been run over in a crosswalk was by a speeding DUI Driver my hubby and I at 45 mph left us without the ability to get into our Mobile Home. He ended up building an attached to the deck ramp that had to long enough to low my electric Jazy to get up the ramp.

    This ramp I believe is what wll light enough, small enough has handle for her teeny short sweet self to store it. My main concern is if cChancey can fall off the sides? She is worried not sturdy enough. This is the first metal ramp which actually fits the strength and sturdier weight needs. 250 lbs is pretty ideal to be meeting an additional need.
    Thank you for your fantastic detailed review. Enjoyed learning from a person whom has been in her idetucql situation. Can’t wait to send her and her daughter the infoso if this the one you get the affilate money from their purchasing from Amazon.

    • Thanks for your note, Shelley – and for helping to support my site. I’m really glad you’ve found a ramp that you think will help your friend. As far as Chance falling off the sides of the ramp … we never had that problem with our Buster, and he weighed 80 pounds and was less than graceful. ;-) In fact, we had to teach him that he didn’t get his treat until he walked to the end of the ramp to keep him from trying to jump off! But if Chance is having issues with his balance (which might have contributed to his falls), there’s a chance he could fall. Buster was struggling more with arthritis and lack of strength in his back legs, and the ramp worked beautifully for that. Good luck to you both!

    • Hi Noel! Whether you’d be able to open and close your RV door with the ramp in place depends on the kind of RV you have. In our motorhome, two of the steps are inside and three are outside, so we couldn’t cover all the steps and still close the door. Also, if we had, the ramp would have been really steep! Using the ramp for only the outdoor steps worked for us. If you have the same configuration as we do, I suppose you could get one ramp for the inside steps and a second one for the outside. It might be worth trying! I hope that helps. Good luck to you.

  • Excellent tip about getting your dog used to the ramp before they’re really in need of one. It’s great to be able to build up their confidence first, as some dogs can be quite wary of the ramp to start with!

    I’m a fan of the GoPlus ramp, it gives a lot of stability and sure footing for a dog, and it’s also pretty lightweight/convenient :)

    • Thanks, Tim! I’m so glad the GoPlus ramp is working well for you, too. And yes, starting before the dog REALLY needs the ramp helps a lot. I wish you all the best and happy travels!

  • We got a ramp for Riley a couple of years ago – he has trouble getting in/out of the back of the Jeep and since he’s close to 100 lbs., it’s sturdy and he’s not afraid of it. It folds in three pieces, also clips closed and has a carrying handle so it fits in the back seat of the Jeep while the pups ride in the back!

  • Thanks for the post! With a senior girl ourselves, we often wonder what we will do once her mobility
    makes the steps in and out of the Meowtorhome an issue. Wonderful show of love and support for Kai. Buster would be proud!

    • 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!

  • Hi Socorro! Depending on how big your dog is, I’d try a slign or a hearness meant for helping pets with mobility issues. Fifteen steps is a lot of distance to cover, and any type of ramp would probably be too steep for your dog to manage. I hope that helps – I wish you both the best.

  • Bwaahaaaahaa! Maddie knows what she likes, Harold. I wonder if covering the ramp with felt would make Maddie’s tender digits happier? The felt would stick pretty well to the sandpaper, I’d think. If you can eliminate one obstacle and train her to use the ramp, you might be able to remove the felt once she used to the ramp and she’d be alright. Either that, or you’re going to have to teach her to ride a bicycle. =D

  • We have had a ramp for years and our two older (now over the rainbow bridge) dogs used it … Maddie has decided that her prissy, velvety paws should not come in contact with sandpaper. She does not need it yet, but, at twelve, I wanted her to learn to use it. So far have had zero luck … one foot on and she’s gone. Works great for rolling a bicycle into the RV though!

  • My pleasure, Bonnie! And for the travel trailier you could probably use a shorter ramp because the distance you have to cover isn’t as much as we’re dealing with. This company makes a six foot version that would be even a little lighter and easier to handle. So glad we can help, and waggin’ trails to you all.

  • I completely agree, Debbie – as Buster needs it, we’ll add a sling or harness so we can help him up those last two steps. We’re not there yet, but we’ll be watching closely for when he needs a little more help. How fantastic that your husband has been able to build ramps to accommodate your dogs! They love to feel that they’re doing things on their own, but being able to make it easier for them really helps. Thanks so much for your note!

  • This is fantastic for Buster! You guys are such great paw-rents! After our previous dog, Daisy, had spinal surgery, we used a belly sling for a long time to assist her getting up and down from the floor as well as standing to eat and going up and down the 2 step deck in backyard, etc. till she recovered most of her mobility. She never could do stairs again after that so my hubs made a ramp for the backyard deck. She loved the ramp as it allowed her to do it on her own. Our other dog, Ruby, also used the ramp even though she didn’t need to. We moved so now have a different setup and that ramp would not work here so we left it for the next tenants to use for their dog. Ruby’s getting older so hubs built another ramp for our new house as she’s a small dog and that one step from the house to the patio is large for her. She knew exactly what to do! Dogs are so adaptable. For those couple steps Buster still has to take, I could see a belly sling being a helpful addition, if anything just to inspire confidence as well as take some of the weight off his hind end.

  • Exactly, Pamela! I think it’s pretty common to expect a dog to be able to use the ramp right away, and that certainly wasn’t the case with Buster. My concern was if we waited until he REALLY needed it, and then couldn’t get him to use it, we’d have a much bigger problem on our hands. Now that he’s gotten comfortable with it, if his balance changes, or he starts having less sensation in his hind feet, we won’t also be adding the pressure of acclimating to a new device.