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Dogs and slats

Aug. 7, 2015, 10:07 a.m.
Posts: 222
Joined: Aug. 7, 2008

Just curious.

Has anyone ever seen or heard of a dog injuring its legs while running on mtb trail bridges.
I have had many dogs, and they obviously do not like bridges. Quickly learn to run beside them, or run/walk awkwardly on them. Keep hearing the argument that spacing on bridges needs to consider dog injury.

Just not sure if it is true.

Oh! and my dog is a royal clutz. So if any dog is likely to injure itself it is my dog. Border Collie, with no concept of agility.

Aug. 7, 2015, 11:03 a.m.
Posts: 17
Joined: Aug. 6, 2004

Some of the really old wood work from some of the original shore trails had some issues with spacing between rungs but this is more due to years of wear from the riders.

Trail builders today who like wood work keep the spacing tight and are very aware of dogs using them. We build to meet our 4 legged users needs :)

Our dog runs flat out on the wood work around here with no issues at all.

Aug. 7, 2015, 11:07 a.m.
Posts: 351
Joined: March 4, 2013

not sure there is a clear cut answer. don't have dogs, but to me it would seem that very few actually use bridges. some do, as Silk says.

the other thing is I'm sure we have all seen a lot of bridges where needles and other gunk has silted up between the rungs. so for this reason i prefer a wider spacing.

don't have any examples handy, but I think even the 2 finger spacing eventually has the potential to fill up, at least on top of the stringer? but it is a pretty good rule of thumb.

Aug. 7, 2015, 12:06 p.m.
Posts: 17771
Joined: Oct. 28, 2003

I've seen a little dog come barrelling down the trail and do a full stop in front of a ladder. He then turned around and backed up 20 ft, and took a running jump, clearing the whole ladder. :clap:

Aug. 7, 2015, 3:53 p.m.
Posts: 2099
Joined: April 22, 2006

Gratuitous puppy on ladder bridge in snow shot. I worry about Alice breaking a leg on slats but she goes around the ones that really scare her and the ones that she isn't comfortable with and she can't go around I don't rush her on.

Aug. 7, 2015, 9:56 p.m.
Posts: 1
Joined: April 3, 2013

Crossing bridges with spacing between the boards is a learned skill for dogs. They need to understand spacing and the use of their hind legs relative to the spacing. Some dogs take to it naturally and some balk at the novel situation. Try coaxing your reluctant dog across with treats laid out on the boards.

Aug. 8, 2015, 8:08 a.m.
Posts: 7306
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

My old dog gave me a real scare and had his leg go in between some slats on a really steep ramp. I thought for sure his knee was gonna be screwed but it ended up ok.

Years ago, I can remember a dog jumping off of a bridge at the woodlot and getting its leg caught and getting hung up really good. Once again, I think the dog ended up ok but it looked super bad.

We try to deter our dog from going on bridges, but in the end let him use his own judgment. While large spaces between slates can be an issue, it is also that some bridges end in drops or steep roll downs that can be an issue for the dog, so they try and turn around and go back. If someone happens to be following the dog this can also cause them to panic.

As a builder, I try to make all my bridges as though a dog will end up on them at some point. I can likely be faulted for putting the slates too close together but so far I don't see any issues with the bridges durability in doing so.

Aug. 8, 2015, 4:21 p.m.
Posts: 8
Joined: Aug. 20, 2010

It is one of those things that I have "read about" but have no knowledge of it happening first hand. Our dog used to love the aerial stuff (old school pup!) but I have seen her make a miss and get caught up between rungs. At a higher speed, this could obviously cause real damage.

I would not encourage a dog to barrel over ladders and bridges but at their own speed (i.e. not barreling down the trail following a bike) I think its fine to let them use their own judgement.

Most new structures are built to eliminate this hazard, thankfully.

Aug. 10, 2015, 9:37 a.m.
Posts: 1
Joined: Oct. 8, 2011

I ran into some guys on Fromme a couple years ago that were carrying a brown pit bull type dog that had hurt its leg on a ladder bridge.

Aug. 10, 2015, 11:01 a.m.
Posts: 18
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

My old dog gave me a real scare and had his leg go in between some slats on a really steep ramp. I thought for sure his knee was gonna be screwed but it ended up ok.

Years ago, I can remember a dog jumping off of a bridge at the woodlot and getting its leg caught and getting hung up really good. Once again, I think the dog ended up ok but it looked super bad.

We try to deter our dog from going on bridges, but in the end let him use his own judgment. While large spaces between slates can be an issue, it is also that some bridges end in drops or steep roll downs that can be an issue for the dog, so they try and turn around and go back. If someone happens to be following the dog this can also cause them to panic.

As a builder, I try to make all my bridges as though a dog will end up on them at some point. I can likely be faulted for putting the slates too close together but so far I don't see any issues with the bridges durability in doing so.

if the effort is made to clean out the space between the slats/rungs maybe a couple times per year then tighter spacing isn't much of an issue. i've found that about 1" spacing is a good compromise - safe for pooch, big enough to not pack with mud/debris too easily, beig enough to clean and most importantly imo beig enough to still offer good traction. i often use the end of a splitting wedge to set spacing.

context is everything

Aug. 10, 2015, 1:50 p.m.
Posts: 7707
Joined: Sept. 11, 2003

Some dogs tend to run around them than over them. Probably a smart move.

Aug. 10, 2015, 9:53 p.m.
Posts: 0
Joined: March 5, 2009

A lot of dog owners have mentioned this issue to me over the years. Therefore I space my decking at 1/2" for boards up to 6" in width and 3/4" for anything greater in width.

I've seen low lying bridges with 2" deck spacing that have accumulated so much dirt and debris between the stringers you could strip the decking and ride the structure as a dirt top bridge. Its a losing battle.

If dirt is collecting between decking I think thats more of a maintenance issue. As long as water has a place to go I think you've done your job.

The way I see it, if you are building a structure in the woods it should serve the users correctly. Space your slats as far apart as you please if you are building a stunt. Keep them close if its a mainline bridge crossing or similar.

Builder for hire.

Aug. 11, 2015, 10:35 a.m.
Posts: 8935
Joined: Dec. 23, 2005

Attention trailbuilders this is the new standard, if all your bridges don't look this amazing you need to go back and re-do them.

Aug. 12, 2015, 2:27 a.m.
Posts: 12194
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

Attention trailbuilders this is the new standard, if all your bridges don't look this amazing you need to go back and re-do them.

Bullshit.
These are bridges built for hikers that have no business exiting a Costco parking lot.

Aug. 12, 2015, 2:34 a.m.
Posts: 12194
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

I "roughly" follow whatever that Whistler document that is out there.
ALL my dogs are smart enough to follow me. When hiking the trails…they tip toe up onto the skinniest of skinnies…stupid old 2" spacing and all…even if I encourage them to go around/low…they won't. At speed…they instinctively go around the bridges. Animals…humans…Darwin. Lets keep dumbing it down.

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