By: Judy Luther
Certified Professional Dog Trainer
For Pets Best Insurance
One of the best inventions for small breed or older dogs are doggie stairs! Because pet health and joint health can decline in aging pets, I highly recommend these steps to help pets get on and off furniture safely!
Not only are they a great, convenient item for the pet owner, but they also keep your dog safe from injury while struggling to ascend or as a result of jumping off the furniture.
Training your dog to use the steps is much easier than you would think and it can be a fun learning game for your dog. There are actually two behaviors you will be teaching your dog. The first behavior is going up the steps, and the next behavior, of course, is going down the steps.
First, find a yummy treat that your dog loves. Sit on the floor next to the steps. Place a treat on the ground at the base of the first step. Your dog should come up and eat the treat. Next, show your dog another treat and put it on the first step. Praise your dog when he approaches the step and eats the treat from the first step. If your dog was uncomfortable approaching the steps you may want to give him teats on the first step several times until he is more comfortable.
Next you will show your dog another treat and put it on the second step. If your dog steps up on the first step to reach the treat located on the second step, great you are almost there. Next you will show your dog the treat and lure him up the steps. Go slowly, you don’t want to rush this step and scare your dog. Take small steps until you can lure your dog all the way from the floor to the top step and onto the furniture.
Now it is time to teach your dog how to go down the steps. Start once again at the bottom of the steps. Put your dog on the bottom step and using a food lure, lure him to the ground. Repeat this several times until your dog is comfortable going down the step. Next, you will put your dog on the second step and lure him down to the ground. When your dog is comfortable you can place him on the next step up. Soon he will be going down the steps comfortably.
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While it’s always a good idea to have a dog insurance policy in place in case of accidental slips or falls, doggie stairs can help your pet remain mobile in your home– even if he’s older or a small-sized breed. Here are some more training tips:
1. Take your time teaching these behaviors. Break the behaviors into small steps.
2. Stay close to your dog, so you can give him gentle support as needed. You want him to feel secure on the steps.
3. Make sure your dog does not rush up and down the steps, safety is priority.
4. If you don’t have a carpeted floor, place a small rug at the bottom of the steps so your dog does not slip on slick floors.
5. Be patient. Some dogs will progress quicker than others at this.