Do you have to carry your dog up and down the stairs? Is it because they absolutely refuse to climb them by themselves? You are not alone. Many pet parents have dogs with a fear of going up and down the stairs. It’s actually fairly common, especially in young dogs who may not have been exposed to stairs when they were puppies.
If dogs remain afraid of stairs, they’ll miss out on bonding with the family upstairs or downstairs.
Thankfully, there are ways to help your dog overcome this fear. Here are a few tips on how to do that.
Causes of Fear of Stairs
Before we get to getting rid of that fear, let’s first understand where it comes from. Most dogs are fearful of stairs simply because they are unfamiliar with it. It might be their first time seeing it, or you didn’t allow them to hop on the steps before. A dog may also develop a fear of stairs due to a traumatic experience, like rolling down after attempting to climb or bumping the steps during the process.
How to Help Your Dog Overcome Their Fear of Stairs
- Keep Your Stairs Clutter-Free
Keeping the steps clutter-free has two benefits. It can prevent accidents and prevent your pup from being fearful of these objects. Once the steps are free of obstructions, you may start with the training.
- Treat and Praise Your Pup
Instead of turning training into a whole event of you forcing your dog up and down the steps, make it a happy memory for them. Give your dog little pats while talking to them in a happy and reassuring tone.
Go up one step and down again as you continue to speak in a soothing, friendly way. Maybe feed your dog a treat or two. Then go up a few steps and down a few steps. If you do manage to get your puppy to go up and down a few steps, make sure that they receive a lot of treats and praise.
- Do Not Rush It
Like we said above, the best way is to take things a few steps at a time. You can try to pick them up, put them on the first step, and then use treats to lure them down a step. The key here is to use positive reinforcement for your puppy training. Once the pup is comfortable with a single step, you can try to make them go down a few more steps. If you want them to go up the stairs, just do this in reverse.
Patience is key when training your dog to go up and down the stairs. Go for short bursts of training rather than one long session. Always be positive and never get upset at your dog. If your puppy seems stressed or overwhelmed, you should probably stop the training session and do it another day. If your dog really seems to be absolutely terrified of stairs and training isn’t going anywhere, you could get dog training classes. A professional should be able to help you.