Fence-mounted trolley dog run for a quadriplegic dog

Share creative ideas for building, sewing, adapting, or crafting things by hand for special needs pets. Find ideas for your homemade project here!
Post Reply
User avatar
CarolC
Moderator
Posts: 13730
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 7:00 pm
Contact:

Fence-mounted trolley dog run for a quadriplegic dog

Post by CarolC »

This project is adapted from this topic.

Pip is a 9-lb quadriplegic dog who could not even raise his head off the blanket in April 2021. He has recovered a lot of use of his 4 legs, but lacks balance. He has Central Cord Syndrome where the front legs are weaker, and the hind legs are overpowered and a little spastic. He is unable to do strenuous exercise because he also has laryngeal paralysis that affects his breathing.

I made him the trolley so he could run. He likes it!

I got the track supplies from https://www.strip-curtains.com and the nuts and machine screws from boltdepot.com and the brackets from lowes.com. Great service from all three.

Here is a picture of the finished trolley on the fence. It is made of 6 sections of 8' track, so it is 48' long.

trolley.jpg
User avatar
CarolC
Moderator
Posts: 13730
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 7:00 pm
Contact:

Re: Fence-mounted trolley dog run for quadriplegic dog

Post by CarolC »

TRACK SUPPLIES

6 pieces of 8-ft track

8-ft-track.jpg

5 joint connectors

joint_connector.JPG

2 end stops

end_stop.JPG

2 nylon rollers (2 for a dog using a double harness. You only need 1 for a dog using a single harness.)

nylon_rollers.jpg

7 heavy duty 15" brackets

heavy_duty_15-in_bracket.JPG
User avatar
CarolC
Moderator
Posts: 13730
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 7:00 pm
Contact:

Re: Fence-mounted trolley dog run for quadriplegic dog

Post by CarolC »

ADDITIONAL SUPPLIES
  • #10-32 X 2-IN machine screws + matching nuts (at least 21 screws)
  • #10-32 X 1-IN machine screws + matching nuts (at least 7 screws) NOTE: I ended up using thicker 1-IN screws because I happened to have 7 of them and they fit through the holes, but #10 should be fine because you are merely suspending the track with the screw, there is no shear force. If your hands are not made for delicate work, it would be easier to use longer screws (1.5-IN). It doesn't have to be 1-IN screws.
  • Scrap lumber cut into 7 pieces 18" long. (If your lumber is thicker than 3/4" get longer screws. 2-IN will be too short).
  • Dowel rod
  • 2 eye screws
TOOLS
  • Saw
  • Hammer or rubber mallet
  • A set of allen wrenches (hex keys) for the set screws. Metric didn't work so you need the other kind. I ended up using a slotted screwdriver that fit.
  • Socket set (or regular pliers) to tighten the nuts
  • drill
  • XL channel locks
channel_locks.jpg

HELPFUL TO HAVE
  • Supports such as rolling trash or recycling bins or stepladders to rest the track on above ground while fastening it to the fence
  • A level
User avatar
CarolC
Moderator
Posts: 13730
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 7:00 pm
Contact:

Re: Fence-mounted trolley dog run for quadriplegic dog

Post by CarolC »

I thought I was going to install the track on the fence one 8' section at a time. Ha! That's a joke! :haha: The joint connectors are so tight it's nearly impossible to feed a piece of track into a joint connector in midair. I had to lay it all out on the ground in front of the fence and connect the 6 pieces into one 48' piece. I used XL channel locks to squeeze the end of the track small enough to fit it into the connector, then knocked it in the rest of the way with the hammer. I positioned it so none of the joints was on a fencepost.

lay_out_track.jpg

The connectors come with 2 set screws, but since I was attaching it to brackets I used a set screw in one hole and a 1-IN machine screw in the other. The head of the screw is inside the track, the threads come out the top of the track, and I put a nut on temporarily to keep the machine screw from falling back out of the hole. This picture shows it (already installed on the fence) with the set screw on the right and the 1-IN screw on the left.

joint_close-up.jpg

Then I screwed the 2 end stops on. (I did not put the rollers in yet. I didn't want them rolling around inside the track while I was installing it.)

So at this point the assembled trolley is 6 pieces of track connected by 5 connectors held by 5 set screws and 5 1-IN screws with nuts, and 2 end stops held by 2 1-IN screws with nuts. It weighs around 50 lbs (23 kg).

Then I lifted the 48' track and carefully slid it onto some rolling bins and a step ladder, trying not to stress the joints. Having it elevated made it easier to screw it to the fence.

track_on_bins.jpg
User avatar
CarolC
Moderator
Posts: 13730
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 7:00 pm
Contact:

Re: Fence-mounted trolley dog run for quadriplegic dog

Post by CarolC »

The track has 7 support brackets. To make each support bracket, cut a piece of scrap lumber 18" long for a backer. Lay the bracket on the wood and mark the screw holes, then take it off and drill the holes. The brackets I bought were 15" one way and 13" the other. I attached the 15" side to the wood.

Assemble each support bracket by screwing the bracket to the wood with 2-IN machine screws and nuts. It is convenient to have the 7 support brackets already put together when you start fastening the track to the fence.

Now you are ready to attach your first bracket to the fence. (Do not put the other brackets on the fence yet. It's easier to see where exactly to screw the brackets to the fence as you go along. They need to line up with the connector joints.)

If you have a helper, they can stand outside the fence and position the wood part of the support bracket for you. If you are doing it alone, you can do it single-handed. Take the metal bracket off the wood. Leave the screws in the screw holes of the wood and put the nuts back on. That way the screws won't fall out of the wood and drop in the alley when you are getting the wood backer into position. An alternate way to keep the screws from falling out of the holes when you position the wood backer is to drill the screw holes so the screws fit snug. Then you won't have to use nuts. The screws will stay in the wood by friction.

I was able to put the wood part over the top of the fence and walk it down into position a little at a time by putting my fingers through the chain link. I got it the right height by counting the diamonds in the chainlink down from the top. Once it's at the right height, reattach the metal bracket to it. The wood backer is on the outside of the fence, the metal bracket is on the inside of the fence, the screws go through the fence with nuts on the inside.

This next step is where you can mess up if you're not careful. You have your first bracket attached to the fence. You're holding one end of the track (which is manageable if you have the rest of it supported up off the ground on rolling trash bins). The end you are holding has an end stop held on by a 1-IN screw with a nut. Take the nut off WITHOUT LETTING THE SCREW FALL OUT OF THE HOLE. (Leave the end stop in place.) Carefully put that screw through the end hole on the bracket and put the nut back on. If you are having trouble keeping the screw from falling out of the hole, I found that a little dab of scotch tape on top of the track where the screw exits the hole anchored it in the hole, so that if I fumbled it, it was less likely to fall out. Here is how the first bracket looked installed.

trolley_west_end.jpg

Install the other brackets one at a time, attaching the track to each one as you go.

joint.jpg

When you come to the other end, take the end stop off and put your rollers into the track, then put the end stop back on and fasten the end of the track to the last bracket.

trolley_east_end.jpg
User avatar
CarolC
Moderator
Posts: 13730
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 7:00 pm
Contact:

Re: Fence-mounted trolley dog run for quadriplegic dog

Post by CarolC »

That is the basic track.

I used 2 rollers because my dog needs a front and rear harness attachment as he is quadriplegic. Your dog might just need one, but if you have an extra one, it doesn't hurt anything.

Once the track was installed, I spent some time walking back and forth checking whether there were any hitches where the rollers travelled through the joints. I repositioned several brackets slightly. I checked it with a level but you don't really need one. You can tell if it's level or not by standing back and looking at it.

Since my dog is using a double harness, I made a spacer to keep the rollers the right distance apart. I used a piece of dowel with eye screws in the ends. You won't need this if your dog only needs a rear harness. You can attach directly to the roller.

spacer.jpg

I hook up his front harness and rear harness with clothesline and spring clips attached to the spacer. It's not elegant but it works.

spring_clips.jpg
User avatar
CarolC
Moderator
Posts: 13730
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 7:00 pm
Contact:

Re: Fence-mounted trolley dog run for quadriplegic dog

Post by CarolC »

SAFETY

My dog will run on a trolley track, and when he gets to the end he is going so fast that he leaves the ground and swings up into the air. To be safe

1) I used the channel locks to close the hooks of the rollers into a closed circle so the clip of his harness can't slide off the hook. (After I made the spacer metioned above, I attached the spring clips to the eye bolts of the spacer, but most people will be attaching directly to the rollers and it's safer to have the hook closed into a circle so the harness clip can't come off.)

2) The end stops have some play in them because they are intended to be installed with thick bolts that are shipped with them. The thick bolts don't fit through the bracket holes so I had to use a smaller diameter. You need the end stops to be firmly in place so the end stop doesn't swivel to the side and the rollers don't come out the end if your dog hits it going full speed. You want to be sure those stops are screwed tight and stay that way. (It's less of a concern with a dog that is only paralyzed in the rear.)
User avatar
CarolC
Moderator
Posts: 13730
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 7:00 pm
Contact:

Re: Fence-mounted trolley dog run for quadriplegic dog

Post by CarolC »

TIPS AND COMMENTS

This is an expensive project, so you want to scope everything out before you commit.

Plan your height so you can still mow and it won't be at eye level for family.

I couldn't install a trolley the entire length of the fence because the yard slopes at one end. The ground needs to be pretty level.

I do not know how this would work for a larger dog. There is probably a limit to how much weight the track can carry while attached to unstable chainlink. This works for a 9-lb dog. If you have a heavier dog you might have better luck installing on a wood privacy fence.

Some chainlink fences have the chainlink stretched tighter on the fenceposts than others. If your chainlink bows out and doesn't look flat, that may need to be fixed before you install a trolley.

You'll notice in one photo there is a slight curve on one of the joints in the track. It is not noticeable when we use it. Any vertical misalignment is noticeable, but you can't tell the slight horizontal deviation is there.

I first tried less expensive shelf brackets. They were 15" but the screw holes were small and I didn't like using wimpy screws. Reaming out the screw holes would probably weaken the bracket so I got heavy duty brackets with bigger screw holes so I could use stronger screws. Below is a picture of the kind that didn't work.

original_brackets.jpg

One consideration is how far your dog will be out away from the fence. I used 15" x 13" brackets for my small dog. The end of the bracket was 13" out from the fence. But the screw hole is not at the very end of the bracket so there is really only about 12" from the fence to the center of the trolley track. In addition, the posts are on the inside of the fence, so he loses another 1.5" of shoulder room every time he runs past a post. I think you'd want to be sure your dog isn't going to be brushing against the fenceposts if he is a bigger (wider) dog. A dog with weak front legs has more trouble steering, so clearance on the side is important to a quadriplegic or front paralyzed dog that can't steer as well. He may not go quite straight, or be able to course correct quickly.

If you have a problem losing the screw (it falls down inside the track) while attaching the track to the bracket, it is hard to get the screw re-inserted through the hole. I had to disconnect one of the connectors to get a screw re-inserted, and almost had to take the whole thing off the fence again. Using 1.5-IN screws instead of 1-IN would probably be easier to work with if you have big hands, because it will give you more to grasp. You would need to decide whether you want 1.5-IN screws when you are putting the 6 pieces together at the beginning. Once it is together, you can't get a different screw in there if you want to change to a different size, because the width of the opening on the bottom of the track is not big enough to pass the head of the screw through even if you angle it.

When I made it, I didn't know if the track would stay smooth or if parts would loosen and get out of alignment. We've been using it for over a week and haven't noticed any problem. Temperature change hasn't affected it either. If I notice anything, I'll post a follow-up. So far so good, and he likes it.

You may wonder, why not just get him a quad cart. He has one, a nice one, but he can't run in it like he can on the trolley. He loves running!

Pip_running600x400.JPG
User avatar
critters
Founding Member
Posts: 14384
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2001 7:00 pm

Re: Fence-mounted trolley dog run for a quadriplegic dog

Post by critters »

:smart: :thankyou:
Post Reply