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Discussion Starter #1
I need to build a ramp off my deck for my senior dog (about 50 pounds) as she is starting to fall on the steps and she will not allow me to help her or assist her in any manner. My house is literally five feet off the ground, so I think the ramp will be pretty steep. Any tips or suggestions?

I know I'll need to put some sort of non-slippery carpeing or something on it too.

She has arthritis, hip dysplasia, spondylosis, and has had past surgeries on her knees. She can still walk okay, but I am afraid if she keeps falling, one of these days she is going to get hurt. I am worried that it will be too steep for her. I don't know how to determine what is too steep, etc.
 

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I would give daisy and lucky's mom a pm They just recently did this last year and may have some pointers.
 

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Maybe you can experiment with some wood and start by propping it up on the first step, then the second etc until you find a good pitch she can easily maneuver. There are ADA guidelines for wheelchairs but they are designed for people self propelling a wheelchair.
 

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We did this for my Alaskan Malamute when he was 11: The steps off the deck were only 2 1/2 feet wide and 8 inches high, so instead of changing those we took the 14 foot side of the deck and created 3- 4 inch high steps. Now Jake could walk up from the side or directly because the steps are about 2 1/2 feet deep, it's more like a couple of landings than steps. It actually looks really nice. Something to consider!
 

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the ramp doesn't have to go straight down.
zig-zag it. have it go left then right. follow this
pattern to the ground. you gradually lower the ramp
as it takes it's lefts and rights.
 

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the OP's house is 5' off of the ground.

We did this for my Alaskan Malamute when he was 11: The steps off the deck were only 2 1/2 feet wide and 8 inches high, so instead of changing those we took the 14 foot side of the deck and created 3- 4 inch high steps. Now Jake could walk up from the side or directly because the steps are about 2 1/2 feet deep, it's more like a couple of landings than steps. It actually looks really nice. Something to consider!
 

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When I had my dog ramp built about 15 years ago, the guy who made it put a small space between each board, made it wide enough for me and a dog to walk down side by side (for seniors who need assistance walking), and didn't make the slope super steep. Living in FL I haven't had to worry about ice and snow on it, but it does get sandy which can get slippery, and it's easy to sweep off.
 

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We found our ramp on CraigsList. It wasn't fun getting it home, but it was free. As Lady Jane got older, we made modifications to the incline.
 

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We built one last spring for our Daisy. My husband and son did it w/ left over lumber. The incline is a little steep and we used adhesive traction pads I got at the hardware store. We covered it in carpet first(indoor outdoor) but it was way to slick. anyways a year later looks like crap but Lucky uses it. It is still sturdythough. We built on half the width of the steps that comes off our deck. I did a thread on Renovations for Daisy its not very informative as Im not a builder. This was our temporay fix . If I was doing it again i would want the incline to be less steep more like wheelchair ramp but that would lengthen it . We had it end into our gravel sidewalk path. We have snow rain ,and humidity often in te same week so weather is our concern. I would purchase treated lumber for the ramp parts instead for walkway and still use traction strips to give the dogs a steady pawhold.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for all of your suggestions and if you have any others, please let me know. I thought about trying anti-skid tape first to see if that helps because she almost seems to lose her footing as the steps seem kind of slippery.

I am attaching a picture of my deck steps currently. I don't think I can make the ramp zigzag without taking off the handrails.
 

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why can't you zig-zag and have handrails? you can have
handrails and siding.

Thanks for all of your suggestions and if you have any others, please let me know. I thought about trying anti-skid tape first to see if that helps because she almost seems to lose her footing as the steps seem kind of slippery.

I am attaching a picture of my deck steps currently. I don't think I can make the ramp zigzag without taking off the handrails.
 

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Ok, is the dog only going to be using the ramp when you are outside with them? IF so (and you want to get creative), you could build a dog elevator (the last one goes right into the house!:





To be more basic - this one looks simple enough:

dog ramp for decks

I personally would cover it with and indoor-outdoor carpeting to give the dog better grip.
 

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Ilovealldogs- that's quite a few stairs... I'm guessing your deck is about 55" off the ground. I would not suggest any ramp steeper than what a dog would see in a dog agility course. A dogwalk plank is 12' long, 4' high, and is 19.47 degrees. Assuming your deck is 55" off the ground, and that you wanted to maintain the 19.47 degree angle, you'd want a plank 165" long. I'd buy a 14' long 2x12. You can get this at Lowes for probably about $18.

Also- this is a long plank and will have some bounce to it when the dog is on it. For that reason, I'd stabilize the board- either by building a couple "trestles" to hold it up from three or four spots, or I'd brace the board itself as I did for my dogwalk planks using a piece of unistrut bolted to the bottom of the board.


You can use gate hinges to secure the plank to your deck.

I would also say that for a senior who's having a hard time with stairs, just a 2x12 will NOT be sufficiently safe. You'll want to add some railings of some sort so that the dog's unsteady feet don't fall off the side of the board. I'd think that some patio lattice would probably be sufficient, and if you painted it wouldn't be such an eye sore. Of course, as cost increases, so can prettiness...

I would apply a sand grit texturing to the plank, exactly like I did for my dogwalk. You can see full instructions of the easy process here. And lest you think that the sand isn't sufficiently gritty, here's my girl running across it in the snow...
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Willy, thanks for the information. It was very helpful! The deck is five feet off the ground. I was thinking of using 16 foot boards and using two 2x8s side by side and putting short railings on the side. Do you think 16 feet will be too steep?
 

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That creates an angle of 18.21 degrees, which is less than a dog would see in an agility trial for the dogwalk (meaning, it's really not too steep of an angle).

2x8s laid flat are doing to have a LOT of flex over a 16' span. Going this route would give you a 14.5" wide walking surface, which is pretty generous. But the flex that this assembly would have would rule it out in my opinion. I think I'd do something more along the lines of this:

2x8s on edge, with a 3/4" plywood top- 14" wide (or however wide you want). The 2x8s on edge also give you some place to secure railing.

 

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The deck is five feet off the ground.
BTW- perhaps a little off topic, but at 60" high and eight steps (7 actual rises) your stairs should have a rise of 8.57". That's a pretty tall step! I have some stairs in my training room that have an 8" rise, and it's certainly not something my dog can sprint down easily... No wonder your dog has some issues with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ramp update!

So, I finally got the ramp done. You may wonder why I used slides, but all the material I used was free (with the exception of the green slide), so I figured I'd try to save a few bucks. I applied sandpaper-like tape to all of it and walked her up and down it. Needless to say, she fell! She was walking as if there were no tape at all and she looked like she had zero traction. I really didn't think the incline was too steep as I went out 17 feet with this (and it's 5 feet high). I really think that her hindquarters are just entirely too weak. Lately, for baths she even has to sit down. :(

Any suggestions?
 

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I'm not sure, but the green slide looks like it has a larger/steeper drop. I would build a ramp like the one Wildo posted with a simple guard rail added, not lattice, its not strong enough. The lumber needed to make the ramp would probably cost less than the slide (if you purchased the slide new) I bought a similar slide for my kids and it was around 250-ish. The strength, stability, and straight slope (as opposed to the wave slide) will probably help her feel secure going up and down.
 
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