Saturday, March 24, 2012

How to Build a Portable Ramp for Your Dog

It's too early to tell if Bea's knee is getting better from the glucosamine, the laser treatments, or neither. But I do know she can't keep jumping up on the bed, on the couch, and into the car. As is, Bea occasionally falls off the bed. It's one of those "if this didn't hurt her, it'd be adorable" moments. Kind of like when she's chasing Leah and runs into a wall.

I decided that I would build her a few ramps. I've gotten a lot handier since building the club, so I went to Home Depot, bought a better set of power tools, and some supplies. What followed was a Slum Dog Millionaire building experience, where everything I built, I learned from the club.

I ended up building her a ramp, covered in carpet - with a hinge in the middle so it can be put away neatly when needed. Well, I built her three of them, but they're all exactly the same. Not including the tools, each one cost about $15 - and only took an hour. And if I had a better way to cut the carpet than household scissors, it would have taken half that time.

If you'd like to do the same for your dog, here's what you'll need. You can change the size of things depending on the height of the ramp you need and the size of your dog.

-6 pieces of shelf board, 2' long x 1' wide x 3/4" thick
-6 2-inch hinges with 36 3/4" screws
-A 2' x 12' piece of carpet
-A box of wood staples

I bought two 6-foot pieces of 12" by 3/4" shelf board. Since I needed it in 2-foot sections, it's cheaper to buy it pre-cut than buying one sheet of 12-foot. I paid for the other 4 cuts, so I had 6 pieces of 2-foot long board. I chose shelf board because it's already painted, finished, and smooth - and I wasn't sure how much of it I'd be covering with carpeting. Whatever you do, don't buy pressure treated wood - that is made for outdoors, and is treated with chemicals. (I learned this while building the club's drink rail).

Don't worry about sanding the edges of the wood - those will be covered with carpet (or the ramps will slide on the floor). Your next step will be hinging the wood together. I used two 2-inch hinges on each ramp - strong enough to hold it together, but they don't add much weight. If you need to build something larger, increase the size of the hinges and consider adding a 3rd hinge. Don't put the hinges all the way on the edge; to distribute more of the weight, start an inch or two off the edge. Drill pilot holes first so you don't splinter the wood - and if you get an electric screwdriver, spend the extra $20 to get an impact screwdriver. It will make your life MUCH easier, and the screws are more likely to go in flush. (I learned this while building the club's shelves).

Next is the carpeting. I bought an electric staple gun - it cost me $40 extra but saved several hours and blisters. Also, the staples go in much more flush with an electric. I bought just enough carpet to wrap around the board and leave the middle with the hinges uncovered. If you cover them, the hinges won't work because the carpet will have no slack. If any staples don't go in all the way, go back over your work and knock them in with a hammer. (I learned this while building the club's stage).

Finally, I covered the hinges, sort of. I stapled a piece of carpet to one of the boards, while leaving the other board unstapled. That way when the ramp is open, every part of the wood is covered and thus doesn't need sanding. And when the ramp is folded, there's only a bit of carpet sticking out. (This skill I made up on the fly).

The hardest part of building the ramp is training your dog to use it. Bea is good about going down the ramp, but she still jumps up. We have seen improvement though - she's started jumping on the ramp and then jumping from the ramp to the couch. Eh, it's a start. I am guessing it will take a week or two to train her. If not, at least I can use the ramps to make my porch wheelchair accessible.

Bea surveying the ramp, upside down.

Bea posing by the ramp halfway folded

Bea, using the ramp the way she uses it.

Bea helping me put the ramp away.

No comments:

Post a Comment