Jumping on or off furniture or in and out of a car puts extra stress through your Clumber Spaniels joints. If they have arthritis in those joints, it will be painful and they may yelp when they land or may even avoid jumping altogether. A ramp would allow you to take your dog in the car without having to lift them in and out. They are also a nice to have at home if there is a favourite spot for your dog on a chair or settee so that they can reach their position without causing themselves pain.
Choosing a ramp
If your dog struggles with going up or down stairs, then you should use a ramp. If your dog can navigate regular stairs easily enough at home, stairs or a ramp could be used to access the car (or furniture). Stairs are generally cheaper and more portable but if your dogs mobility deteriorates, you may have to replace the stairs with a ramp in the future.
You should always check the ramps capacity to ensure your dog is not too heavy for it. You should weigh your dog if you are unsure and do not purchase the ramp until you are sure it will accommodate your dogs weight.
You can get ramps that hook onto your car or ones that are freestanding that do not attach to the car. You can also get ramps that can be used on a vehicle side door and there are adaptors that connect standard ramps to vehicle side doors to allow access to the back seats of your car.
You should always supervise your dog whilst it is using the ramp. The surface that your dog walks on should have an anti-slip surface and rails on either side would give confidence to your dog. The ramp should lock into place and have non-skid feet to prevent the ramp moving or collapsing during use.
As Clumbers are a large breed dog, they will need a wider ramp. It should be washable for sanitary reasons.
When the ramp is in place, there should be an incline of no more than 20 degrees. A steeper ramp will be more challenging for your dog. As a general rule, if you measure how high your ramp will stand from the floor in cm (ie. the height of your boot from the ground) and times that amount by 3. So if your boot is 60cm from the ground, you times this by 3 and you will know you require a ramp that is around 180cm or 1.8 meters long.
The weight of the ramp is a consideration as you will have to manoeuvre it in and out of your car and its portability - does it fold? Does it have a safety latch? Does it have a carrying handle? Where will it be stored in your car?
Using a ramp for the first time
Do try luring your dog up the ramp for the first time into your car. It may be that your dog takes it in their stride and toodles straight in! If they refuse, do not force them. Simply walk away with them so they do not get stressed about it.
Decide when the best time of day is for your dog. If they are stiff in the morning then wait until late morning. Lay the ramp flat on the floor and put a treat on the ramp so they can reach it without treading on it. Try putting a high value treat a bit further along so they have to put one paw onto the ramp to reach it. Don’t push them too hard and that may be enough for one day. You will build this up over a few days, by either placing treats along the length of the ramp or luring them along it with something that is high value to them. This may be a treat, a ball or toy.
Once you have them happily walking along the ramp, try elevating one end slightly (maybe directly into their bed) and repeat the process again. You may then progress to a chair, ensuring the ramp is stable and not going to move anywhere once your dog steps on it. If your dog masters this, entering the car on the ramp should be an easy progression for your dog.