The Story Behind the HoundRound
(Mouse-over images to enlarge them)
     Many people must have had the same idea, to build a giant mouse wheel for their dog.  In the endeavor to exhaust an inexhaustible puppy, it almost seems like an inevitable idea.  Well, I’m impractical enough that impractical time demands didn’t discourage me, so I actually built it.
HoundRound ring     Several hundred hours and many hundreds of dollars later, The HoundRound was finished.  I made it an open ring design, since that looks better, is safer, and I thought it would be less intimidating to the dog.
motivation for Jumbo the dog     I knew my particular dog (Jumbo) wouldn’t just run on a wheel like a mouse, she needed motivation.  The initial idea of a treat dispenser didn’t work too well, as the attention span of a Schnauhuahua is about fifteen seconds, and I haven’t yet worked out a mechanism that can deliver the treat with such precise regularity (dogs also lack much of an understanding of cause and effect).  The peanut butter conveyer belt (patent pending) is a very effective motivator, however.  I just smear a thin film (about teaspoon) on the food-safe belt and slip it over the pulleys.  The drive pulley is slowly driven by the dog running on the wheel, so fresh peanut butter continuously becomes lickable for about twenty minutes.  This is usually enough to take the edge off a restless puppy.
Jumbo out in the snow     It is especially useful on days when it is too hot or too cold to get much exercise outdoors.
Rumpus comes into the family.     It only took a day to train Jumbo, and the new dog (Rumpus) learned by watching her.  As you can see in some of the videos, they hop right in and usually don’t stop until the peanut butter runs out.  Sometimes Jumbo gets in and barks until I load up the peanut butter.  I designed it for safety, so the dogs can use it when no people are home (unlike a treadmill).  I can load up the peanut better belt right before I leave the house and whichever one gets in The HoundRound won’t even notice I’m leaving. Jumbo licking the peanut butter conveyor belt.

Some additional details on the construction
HoundRound dog exercise wheel treat dispenser drive mechanism     The peanut butter conveyor belt drive pulley is driven by a mechanism that starts with the wooden drive wheel that rests on top of the running wheel.  That drive wheel, through pulleys and belts, drives a 60:1 worm gear speed reducer.  The output of the speed reducer turns a shaft that is connected to a drill chuck through a series of universal joints.  The chuck holds the axle of the drive pulley.  Other treat dispensing mechanisms can be inserted into and driven by the drill chuck.
     There is a dc generator that is driven off of the drive shaft of the gear reducer.  The resistance provided by this generator increases the rolling resistance of the running wheel to just the right level, and it also puts out a small amount of current at up to 6 volts.  I haven’t found a use for this electricity, but it is there.
Odometer and other parts of the HoundRound dog exercise wheel     There is a bicycle computer that is calibrated to the drive wheel so that it accurately records the speed that the dog is running, as well as other useful information such as the total mileage on The HoundRound.
     By using just the right support casters, I managed to make it very quiet.  The dog’s tags make more noise than the rolling HoundRound.  It has a very small footprint, only 10x67 inches, and at the widest point it is only 18 inches.  We have it positioned like a sofa table behind the couch.

If you or anyone you know wants to view the HoundRound videos over a slower internet connection, the videos are also available in lower bandwidth at YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSIQnuDf2D4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUhzSx0UzcQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TaCEv6gExk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Jx2gBfHYHk

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