I have the week off for the fourth and I'm in a beginner DIY mood. At my lake house, we have a floating dock which is too high above the water to easily pull the dog out and he can't get out by going to shore because it is covered with riprap and overgrowth.

Here's my plan so far. I'm thinking to use this plywood. with two 5" door hinges at each corner. I believe hot dip galavanized screws are what I need to use. For buoyancy, I will drill two holes towards the end on both sides and tie a boat fender on each side. I have a drill but I will need (I think) a spade bit to drill holes big enough for rope. I already have some polyurethane that I will seal the wood with.

Any suggestions or comments?

I know this is not ideal and it's not going to last forever but it's mainly an excuse for me buy some power tools and start learning.

  • What size dog?? – thinice Jun 28 '14 at 3:59
  • Good idea, I'd go for it! – Jack Jun 28 '14 at 5:09
  • So what did you decide to do after all? – Handy Man Jun 29 '14 at 14:20
  • Dog is 50 lbs. I'm considering using a composite decking board per a suggestion from someone else. It's only $7 more than the plywood I was going to use. Also going to try pool noodles for the flotation. Hopefully starting the project today. – user23370 Jun 29 '14 at 17:34

Your idea may work in the short term, but over time the waves will rip that apart. The other thing is that plywood in water won't last long either, even marine treated plywood is not designed to be submerged.

Here is what I did on our dock and above ground pool to allow our dog access. enter image description here

Be sure to use pressure treated wood. The step allows the dog to swim up, get his front paws on for grip and then pull himself up out of the water.

It will take a little training but nothing a few treats for motivation cant fix.

Adjust the step for the size of dog you have, the smaller the higher you place the step


I'm not sure on the overall design, but I will comment on the hardware.

Anything made from plain steel is going to rust, sooner or later. Hot-dip galvanization reduces that, but won't eliminate it. Galvanized hardware will rust, especially if submerged. Holding up to periodic rain is one thing; full submersion is a whole different situation.

Better choices for water contact are stainless steel and brass. Stainless steel screws are readily available at many or most hardware stores. I wouldn't use brass screws for this since they are rather soft, but stainless would work well.

Much of the brass-looking hardware in stores is not real brass but rather brass-colored zinc-coated steel, which will reduce casual rust but will eventually flake and rust. I would not use off-the-shelf door hinges, because the pins will rust immediately, and the brass-colored or chrome-plated plates are going to rust over time, especially inside the hinge itself where the pin rubs every time the hinge turns.

HandyMan's idea of the step with no moving parts is definitely worth considering.

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