An acquaintance recently told me that her special-needs dog was having a hard time getting on and off the couch because jumping was difficult. She wasn’t familiar with dog ramps, so I told her about the low-cost DIY dog ramp we created to help ease Peanut’s travel up and down from “her spot” on the couch.
The alternative is to lift me up and down at my command. The choice is yours.
We decided a few years ago that it would be best to keep Peanut from jumping on and off furniture to limit the impact to her wrist joint, which was progressively getting weaker over time. We tried doggie stairs that we bought from the store but were unhappy with the product. The width of the stairs was too narrow, the woolly fabric that loosely covered the bumpy plastic was too thin, and the whole frame was just light enough to be wobbly under Peanut’s weight as she moved, freaking us both out. We checked out manufactured dog ramps as well, but they were either too industrial or just too expensive. Our little Goldilocks needed something that was just right.
Since what we needed was just a simple, sturdy board, we made our own. We went to our local big box home improvement store to browse wooden boards. An associate assured us several times that our particular selection would more than support the weight of a 17 pound dog. (The ramp actually supports me, and I’m a few stones heavier.) In addition to having the board cut there to our specifications, we also purchased some inexpensive carpet off the roll that would not snag on her nails and that I thought would nicely compliment the room colors.
After stapling the carpet to the board and doing a practice run with Peanut, we quickly learned that we needed something to create more friction under paw. The carpet fibers were a bit too slick. I happened to have several rolls of rubber non-slip liners, so we secured a roll of that over the carpet. It did the trick beautifully, creating the resistance she needed to safely walk up and down the ramp.
What We Used:
- Scrap board from the local home improvement store that was thick enough to support our small dog’s weight. We used a 3/4“ thick board cut to 15″ wide x 49″ long (1.9 cm thick, and 38.1 cm x 124.46 cm)
- Carpet cut large enough to cover the entire board and stapled to the back (choose a carpet pile or fabric that pet nails can not get caught in or snag)
- Non-slip rubber liner wrapped across the length of the board (could also use a non-slip carpet or rug pad) Our rolls of rubber liners happen to be intended to line tool box drawers. I’ve also seen similar liners sold for use in kitchen drawers that keep items from sliding around.
- Heavy-duty stapler/staple gun
We kept it simple but I could have easily added decorative trim to the sides just for fun.
Back of dog ramp, carpet and non-slip pad stapled to the board.
Carpet and Tile
The weight of the ramp resting at an angle on the carpet makes it quite sturdy. It does not budge at all when Peanut trots up or down, not even when she puts a bit of speed into her dismount. We don’t use it on tile flooring, but I did set the ramp up on our tile floor in the kitchen to see what would happen-specifically whether or not it would slip. It did not slip, likely due to the weight and the rubber non-skid liner wrapped around the bottom that rested against tile. I would still make sure that if using on a slick surface like tile that you test to verify that the ramp will not slide. Otherwise, ensure you add a stopper to prevent sliding or even make the ramp triangular, the way many other DIY ramps are constructed.
The board can be placed under the couch if we need it out of view, but that doesn’t happen too often. A handle could also be drilled in to the side for ease of grabbing and sliding under furniture.
Training should be pretty quick and easy for a food-motivated dog. We held a treat at the base of the ramp, called out “ramp” and gave Peanut a treat. We then held the treat a few inches higher up the ramp, forcing her to take two steps up to reach the treat. As she did that, we called out “ramp” and gave her the treat. We repeated this process every couple of inches until she walked herself up the ramp and on to the couch. We lavishly praised her for a job well done, and promptly started the process of going back down. She picked up the new skill very quickly. Now, we just call out “ramp” when we need to direct her on or off the couch.
My online searches for DIY dog ramps didn’t turn up the best results, so I offer up this idea to anyone who needs such an aid as part of their pet’s occupational therapy.
Update 6/26/13: Since this is by far my most popular page, I would love to get more feedback if you tried this little project yourself and how it worked for you. Thanks!