How to Build a Dog Walk
The dog walk is an essential contact obstacle used in the sport of dog agility. The dog walk consists of a long up ramp, a flat top and a long down ramp. The dog must step in the contact zones on the up and down side of the ramps, and maneuver all the way across without falling or faulting. The dog walk can be a difficult obstacle for a dog to master, but with a little work, you can construct your own dog walk at home to hone skills.
Cut your two sheets of plywood in half, lengthwise so that you have four sections that are 2 feet wide by 8 feet long. Apply a coating of wood glue to the top of one of the pieces, and lay another piece directly on top of it, pressing down to assure a good bond. Clamp the pieces together until they dry. Screw the boards together once the glue is dry to ensure they stay together. These pieces will make up your up and down ramps.
Measure out 48 inches on four of the 1 by 4 by 8 boards, and cut them at the mark. These boards will be used as the bases to support your dog walk. Cut the remaining boards into two 36-inch sections each, which will leave you with one 24-inch section per board. These pieces will be your supports for the bases.
Take two of your 48-inch sections and measure up approximately 12 inches from the bottom, and measure 4 inches up from the opposite end and mark these measurements. Screw one of your 36-inch sections between the two boards, so that the shorter section connects the two long sections. Attach one of the 24-inch pieces at the opposite end of the boards, so that the top is secured as well. Repeat this process until you have four completed support pieces for your dog walk. You can paint these pieces at this time if you like, making sure they dry before you attach the brackets.
Attach two sections of your support bases together using the metal brackets. Screw one bracket on each opposing side, near the top of your base. These brackets will ensure that your base pieces stay together and do not fall while your dog is using your dog walk. Once completed, you bases will look something like tall wooden saw horses, but they will offer a good amount of stability for your obstacle.
Using your measuring tape, mark off six sections on your ramp pieces, spaced approximately 16 inches apart. Screw one of the wooden dowels over each place you marked off, so that you have six on the up side of your ramp, and six on the down side. These dowels add extra traction for the dogs while performing the dog walk.
Paint your dog walk sections. You can mix the sand in with your paint, as the sand will give extra grip to your dog walk. You will need two contrasting paint colors, as competition dog walks have a colored section at the bottom known as the contact zone. The contact zone is an area that your dog must place at least one foot in while entering or exiting the obstacle, so the contrasting color will help your dog recognize the area. Apply two coats of paint to ensure good coverage.
Attach your hinges once your paint is dry. Lay the two ramps face down, and place the long board between the two sections. Screw the hinges in place, making sure they are tight and well secured. Turn the dog walk face up to check for any protruding screws, and to ensure everything is stable and secure.
Sand any rough edges and double check for any sharp hardware that may injure your dog. You can repaint any necessary spots now if need be, and add any finishing touches at this time.
Set up your support bases approximately seven feet apart, and set your dog walk in the bases. The dog walk should fit well into the bases, and should not rock or be otherwise unsteady. Test the stability of the dog walk by attempting to rock or shake it. As long as it does not sway or move, your dog should be ready to master your new home made dog walk in no time.