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A question about equipment color


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I'm posting this here because I expect I'll reach the most people who are familiar with agility equipment. It's kind of an odd question and actually relates to an old dog and the paint used for agility equipment.

 

Background: My 15 1/2 year old needs a ramp to get down the steps off the porch. A ramp was built and he used it when he needed to go out. Recently he had been hesitant to go down the ramp. I could think of several reasons, among them the fact that he slides a little on the bare wood (there are traction strips that keep him from sliding very far). Also because of a bad board on the porch that Boy couldn't approach the ramp from head on. Because his spine is essentially fused, I thought that having to approach the ramp from the side and then swing around to get on it might also be causing him some angst. Last, the steps off the porch are slightly angled (I have no idea why) and the end of the ramp rests under the first step so that he has to start out from a slightly angled surface.

 

So, I put a rubber stall mat over the porch to cover the bad board and to give him traction on the one step. I also painted the ramp with paint used for agility equipment (hence my question to y'all) that has the grit in it to help with traction.

 

The first time Boy saw the painted ramp, he acted like he *didn't* see it. His eyesight is no longer good, especially in low light. Is it possible that going from a natural (weathered) wood color to slate blue makes it difficult for him to even see the ramp? I've literally been coaxing him onto it and down for nearly a week now.

 

The last piece of information: He willingly comes *up* the ramp with no hesitation, new color, new angle, steps, and all.

 

Any thoughts? Did I mess him up when I changed the color? Or do you think that's just coincidental?

 

P.S. I'll ask Eileen to move this to the Health section later, but thought I'd start here and see if anyone had experience with dogs reacting to the color of the equipment.

 

 

J.

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I am wondering if the color is blending into the back ground with the color change. What color are the steps and the area he would see under it and to the side? May just look like a different ramp and he isn't sure of it. Wish someone would make glasses like sunglasses that would let us see colors as the dogs do. I know I am much more comfortable going up stairs than down especially if I can't see well.

 

Could the weight shift on to the shoulders and front end be more uncomfortable when he is going down?

 

Jenny

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My agility equipment is all blue/yellow and the dogs seem to use it just fine.

 

I've never found that the "specialty paints" have enough traction. My method is to paint the surface, throw handfuls of sand on it, let it dry and then paint another coat over the top. Lots of traction that way!

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Jenny,

I'm sure the downhill slope is uncomfortable for him, as well as the fact that he gets lots of hair between his toes, which makes him more apt to slide (though the wood strips don't let him slide very far). The ramp and porch wood were all the same color before, with the background being a bluestone driveway.

 

Karissa,

I noticed that there didn't seem to be a lot of sand (or whatever it is) in the paint, but it did effectively create a rougher surface.

 

I went out today and put the ramp back at it's original angle just in case the steps at the bottom were bothering him. But he really is reluctant to take that first step onto the ramp, which has not been the case in the past. Sigh. I guess I can always go back to carrying him down...

 

J.

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Jenny,

I'm sure the downhill slope is uncomfortable for him, as well as the fact that he gets lots of hair between his toes, which makes him more apt to slide (though the wood strips don't let him slide very far). The ramp and porch wood were all the same color before, with the background being a bluestone driveway.

 

J.

 

If the bluestone driveway is a bluish grey color, try putting a throw rug, old sheet. towel etc in a contrast color like yellow on the driveway and under the ramp. Quick easy test to see if he can see where the ramp is against the driveway. Might not be a problem going up since the background would be the porch.

 

Jenny

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Our sheltie, Jake, had to be carried up and down stairs the last year of his life. He weighed 45 pnds - and didn't mind getting carried ( cradled is more like it) at all. After his passing I read about these slings that you put the dog in. The dog helps to support his weight - but you aid in the going up the stairs. The sling gives the dog confidence in their steps and saves your back. I think I actually heard about them on this website - remember thinking if I had to carry a dog again I would look into the slings. Good luck.

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FWIW, the points at which a dog steps onto and off of agility equipment in most venues is yellow. I think it is now thought that dogs mainly see in shades of blue and yellow, so the now more darkly painted ramp may well be blending into the background/ground color more than it used to (as someone else also suggested above).

 

B.

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Thanks everyone. He's doing better now, and I was thinking about going ahead and painting the edges and on-off areas a contrasting color. I think it would also help him if I made the traction strips smaller, so will make a trip to the lumberyard as well. Since I put it back to the steeper slope yesterday, he's actually using it more willingly, though I still go out with him and encourage him to step onto it.

 

Cody&Duchess,

I'm trying to avoid carrying, largely because with his back issues he has to be picked up in a very careful and precise way so that his back isn't arched or bent side-to-side, which hurts him greatly. So he really needs to use the ramp if at all possible. I've considered a towel just to support his back end or one of my lamb slings, but I have to say that I've pretty much drawn the line at him needing to be able to get around under his own steam. If he has to be carried in and out of the house, then it becomes a quality of life issue, and at 15 1/2 the quality of his life is way more important than the quantity.... <---In fact, this is the issue I'm struggling with right now: drawing that line.

 

ETA: Jack is bringing some yellow paint on Thursday, so I can make the ramp look like a real piece of agility equipment. Hopefully the contrast will help.

 

J.

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^^^ All good suggestions -- increase color contrast & provide more traction with sanded surface (I agree with adding sand on top of or into the paint).

 

Would he mind you trimming off the hair between his toes so he has better traction? My older dog keep slipping on my wood floors where there are no rugs and trimming the hair does help a bit.

 

Since your dog is used to them, I wouldn't worry to much about the traction strips, but I know that the agility world is generally going away from traction strips to sanded, and more recently, rubberized surfaces for contact obstacles. The belief is that the traction strips can cause injury - via toe stubs. Of course the agility dogs are usually traveling over the surface at a faster speed than your dog, hence, probably not a worry for you.

 

I understand the quandary of how to balance quality of life for your pet with health issues. When do you say 'enough'? I just went through that with a 19-year old cat.

 

Best of Luck,

Jovi

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Would he mind you trimming off the hair between his toes so he has better traction? My older dog keep slipping on my wood floors where there are no rugs and trimming the hair does help a bit.

 

He minds it, but I do it anyway. He was one foot (on his lame front leg, of course) that he really doesn't like handled, but with a small pair of scissors and can trim most of the really long hair away. It might be easier with the electric trimmers, but he draws the line at that.

 

Since your dog is used to them, I wouldn't worry to much about the traction strips, but I know that the agility world is generally going away from traction strips to sanded, and more recently, rubberized surfaces for contact obstacles. The belief is that the traction strips can cause injury - via toe stubs. Of course the agility dogs are usually traveling over the surface at a faster speed than your dog, hence, probably not a worry for you.

 

I'd say poor old Boy would look like he's going backward compared to most agility dogs. The problem isn't so much the strips themselves as it is that they are too thick and so he has difficulty with them. I got some furring (<---I have no idea how you spell that) strips at the lumberyard today, and will change out the thicker strips for the slightly thinner ones. The paint I used does have sand in it--a lot. Boy also seems better resigned to the stall mat on the porch leading up to his step off for the ramp, so that's an improvement too.

 

I understand the quandary of how to balance quality of life for your pet with health issues. When do you say 'enough'? I just went through that with a 19-year old cat.

 

A dear friend of mine used to bring her old, old dog to trials and keep her in an X-pen while we worked the set out. I'm getting to that point. I don't know that it's safe to leave him home, even though I have a housemate, because he just isn't all that observant, and would probably not notice very quickly if Boy got stuck and couldn't get up or if Boy wasn't using the ramp to get out to the yard. But taking him is problematic too, because he can't easily turn around in a crate, can't climb into the van, etc. So yeah, either I stay home with him, or I find someone who can take him (though the disruption of going to a different home for a couple of days might be just as traumatic as what might happen to him if left at home) or take him with. He really sleeps most of the time, and I do wonder if he's actually happy, but I guess as long as he's able to get up (sometimes with help necessary) and wags his tail and likes to be petted, we'll just keep plodding along.

 

Thanks for all the good advice everyone!

 

Oh, and Barbara, you're right--I can teach contacts on Boy's ramp, lol! Unfortunately Phoebe has done something to herself and is lame on the front--quite lame. Do they never stop with the hurting themselves? Sigh.

 

J.

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Laura,

If you lived in NC you might even see me make an appearance at an agility trial, lol! :rolleyes: No addiction, but I did borrow equipment from a student and am playing at it with Phoebe and Lark. I doubt it will go anywhere, other than the fun(ny) time I plan to have at a trial in November.

 

But Boy will certainly have a very spiffy looking agility-colored ramp!

 

J.

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Julie;

 

When my old Golden Girl got old (16ish) she got vestibular disease and even though she recovered fully she still occasionally needed a boost or a little help going down the steps off the deck.

 

I got one of these: mobility harness at Petsmart for a reasonable price and we just put it on in the morning and let her wear it all day.

 

It made it a cinch to offer that little bit of support, take a little weight off, etc. without having to pick her up. I don't know if pressure under his chest would hurt his back, but it might be helpful.

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Rushdoggie,

The picture on the site makes it look like holding the handles or pulling up to support the dog would arch the dog's back? To lift Boy, you need to support him between his front legs and just in front of his hind legs, keeping his back as straight as possible.

 

Brndlbc,

Thanks for that idea. Boy is using the ramp better now that I removed the stairs at the bottom. I am going to see how changing the tread slats works and adding the contrasting paint. If he's still having trouble, I may try rubberizing it.

 

Oh, and Barbara? I don't see agility in my future. I don't think I could do that and sheepdog trialing well, and the sheep and sheepdog things will always come first. But it *is* fun to play at it!

 

J.

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:rolleyes: Except that she's coming out to try her youngster on *stock* and to visit the open farm day at the neighboring alpaca farm and watch the sheepdog demos we're doing there!

 

Of course, if she wants to give me tips on getting Lark and Phoebe to jump and tunnel well enough to do pre-novice or tunnelers in November, I won't turn her down, but given our schedule for Saturday, I doubt there will be time. :D

 

J.

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Rushdoggie,

The picture on the site makes it look like holding the handles or pulling up to support the dog would arch the dog's back? To lift Boy, you need to support him between his front legs and just in front of his hind legs, keeping his back as straight as possible.

 

It might...I didn't lift enough on Roo to arch her back, just enough to provide some support when she was struggling to get up (her legs sometimes didn't go where she wanted after she had laid down for a while) and when she went down the stairs...basically I could keep her from falling over. Once she was up and going she was fine. It was nice to just have "handles" on her to give her that boost when she needed it.

 

You could probably get creative with an old towel and a harness and do the same thing.

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Here are a couple of not great photos of Boy using the improved version of his ramp. I didn't have to coax him down this afternoon, so I'm taking that as a good sign.

 

IMG_0247_edited-1.jpg

 

IMG_0248_edited-1.jpg

 

The yellow definitely provides a good contrast between the black rubber stall mat at the top and the start of the ramp. He doesn't see well in low light, so I hope the contrast will help at night especially.

 

Now, if only I could convince Jill to use the ramp, I'd be in business (though I'll probably have to put side rails on it before she consents to doing so).

 

J.

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