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Build Doggie Steps: Part 1

Design and build doggie steps yourself to get the product you want!

My aim here is to teach you how to create your own custom tailored set of stairs for your dog, cat, rabbit, ferret or other furry friend.

Rather than giving you a set of plans, simply read through the steps I followed, and then, if necessary, alter the design to fit your needs. If you get stuck or something isn't clear, you can always contact me.




Where to Start?

Before creating my first set, I asked myself the following questions:

  • Did we need indoor or outdoor steps, or should they serve double duty?
  • Would they need to be moved often or would they stay put?
  • How much room would there be?
  • How tall would the top step need to be?
  • How heavy was our dog and how tall of a step could he negotiate?



Considerations to Build Doggie Steps

The first set of steps was mainly built as a how-to model for this website. 

At the time, we still had our German Shepherd mix, Comet, and were staying for a few months at an RV park. I reckoned the steps could be used by him to get into our camping trailer.

  • The steps would stay outdoors since space inside the trailer was limited, while there was plenty of room outside the trailer to build as big a base as I liked.
  • The steps needed to be movable, so I didn't want to make them too wide or heavy.
  • I wanted each step to be 6" high (300 mm) as that seemed doable for Comet, so the top step needed to be within 6" of the doorstep into the RV.  
  • He was medium sized and weighed 70 lbs so I wanted to build doggie steps that were fairly sturdy - meaning the plywood for the steps and sides needed to be at least 3/8" thick, and the supports should be no thinner than a 2x2.




Calculations to Build Doggie Steps

STEP HEIGHT, DEPTH AND WIDTH

A side piece with horizontal supports

The distance from the ground to the RV's doorstep was 24", so the height of my design needed to be 24 minus 6, which was 18".

I decided on a basic design of three stairs; each 6" high, 15" wide* and 12" deep - the part he would step on. (Metric dimensions 150 x 375 x 300 mm).

This meant that ideally, the base would be 12"x3" or 36" long. 

Since we were on a very tight budget, I looked around and found all the materials needed. However, I was only able to scrounge a piece of plywood that would allow for the base to be 34.5" long (875), so I modified the depth of each tread to 11.5" (292 mm). 

*Note: Before we left the RV Park, I modifed the doggie stairs to be narrower for a neighbor's Westie for getting onto a bed indoors.


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YOUR TURN

Now get a piece of paper and design your own steps, outlining the height, width, depth and number of steps you need.

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THE SUPPORTS

If you want to work things out on paper, simply measure and calculate how long each support needs to be, using the actual height of the supports you will use and the photo as a guide. 

Alternatively, you can wait until you have your plywood pieces cut before physically measuring things.

As you can see, the supports run two ways

  • Set A supports run along horizontally underneath each tread at the top. They should be flush with the edges.
  • Set B supports are vertical and placed perpendicular to the base and treads underneath the Set A supports.


THE TREADS OR STEPS

I wanted my steps to be 15" wide and their depth to be 11.5", so I needed rectangular pieces of wood or similar material with those dimensions. I was able to find three assorted 1/2"  plywood and pressboard pieces (13 mm) that would be big enough, and I cut them to size.




Materials Used to Build Doggie Steps

Plywood (or equivalent) needed:

  • One piece 24" x 36" (610 x 915 mm) to make the side walls of the steps
  • Three pieces 12" x 15" (305 x 380mm) to make the treads
  • One piece 15" x 18" (380 x 455mm) for the back wall 
  • One piece 6" x 15" (150 x 380 mm) wide for the front face 

2 x 2's (actual size 1.5" x 1.5" or 35 x 35 mm):

  • Six pieces, 11.5" ((290 mm) long
  • Two pieces, 15" (380 mm) long
  • Two pieces, 4" (100 mm) long

Carpeting:

  • One piece, 36" x 39" inches (915 x 990 mm)**

**The above allowed for a little extra. I could have used smaller separate pieces if need be.

Fasteners:

  • Screws - wood or drywall
  • Staples or carpet tacks

TOOLS

  • Tape measure
  • Power saw or crosscut handsaw
  • Power or manual phillips head screwdriver
  • Pen, pencil or marker
  • Staple gun or hammer
  • Carpet knife or razor blade


All set? Go on to Part 2 for the building instructions.

 


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