Puppy Vs Stairs: How you can help your Dog Overcome Fear of Staircases
One of the toughest things a dog has to learn is how to go up and down staircases. For a teeny pup faced with the ‘Everest’ of your average staircase at home, your patience and consideration as a dog owner is needed to help them face this fear.
This post will show you some videos of some cute dogs negotiating the stairs, to give you the puppy’s perspective of this most formidable of foes and give you some tips on how you can help them out and make their transition between floors as easy as possible.
Small breed dogs will find the average stair riser extremely high, taller than them in a lot of cases. This is why it is so important that you don’t force them to use the stairs until they are grown enough to use them safely. For a lot of dog breeds this can be around 12 weeks old. However Labradors, Staffordshire Terriers and other Shepard breeds will need a little longer for their hips to develop so that they don’t injure their joints.
Here is Rosie the Yorkshire terrier demonstrating just how scary stairs can be to a pup that’s too young to deal with them. The owner calls her movements ‘happy feet,’ only I think she looks petrified as she shuffles from side to side looking for a safe route down.
It’s a Long Way Down
Don’t try and force a dog that doesn’t want to go downstairs to make the descent by themselves. Pushing or pulling him/her will make them resist and become fearful. For a dog that’s fallen down some steps in the past, rushing them will not help you towards your goal of getting them to happily use stairs on their own.
This dog for instance, will not be forced by their owner to go down the hardwood stairs, or the mean cat teasing him for that matter.
If you have an older dog in the house, like in this video, roping them into demonstrating how to use the stairs can make your pup feel more confident as well as it being very entertaining for you to watch.
The Deep Decent
A dog’s vision does not allow for the same depth perception as humans, as they have a hard time judging vertical distances. This may cause some dogs to jump from the landing to a half landing, or take stairs too quickly and fall. Dog trainers advise limiting their stair use for the first 6 months of their lives, with baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. This way you can monitor your dog’s movements and make sure they’re not putting themselves in danger.
This dog, for instance, has his owner right next to him, checking that his technique for going up the icy steps on two legs doesn’t result in him doing himself a mischief.
Give them Some Traction
Dogs who live in homes with hardwood staircases find the task of going up and down stairs trickier than dogs that live in homes with carpeted ones. This is because their little paws can slip on the shiny surfaces and provide them with absolutely no padding if they do unfortunately take a tumble.
It’s clear from these two clips that the dogs working on a carpeted flight of stairs are more content than the ones who have to try and make it down a hardwood staircase. So if you do have hardwood floors in your home, consider getting a carpet runner for the stairs, to provide your dog with some traction and to ultimately make the stairs a safer place for both you and your pooch.
This little yorkie, for example, looks very pleased with herself once she reaches the bottom of the carpeted stairs. You can even notice the extra time she spent working out her next move when she reached the final, uncarpeted step.
This ‘big boy’ bulldog however is not having anything to do with going down these hardwood stairs unaided. His owner is teasing him, but he sounds noticeably distressed with the whole idea of making the decent on his own, and so he simply refuses. Maybe this lady should have invested in a carpet runner rather than publically shaming her poor dog for the enjoyment of internet users.
Let them do their Thing
And finally, once you have gently taught your puppy to use the stairs, monitored their usage until you feel like it’s safe for them and provided their little puppy paws with some carpeted traction, you can be confident that they’ve overcome their staircase fears. Now all that’s left to do is to leave them to do their own thing. Like this dog who has found a comfortable- if not very lazy- way of descending carpeted stairs. Enjoy.
If you’re a dog owner who has any tips for helping puppies use stairs safely, then share these tips in the comment section below. Alternatively, if you know any dog owners who have trouble getting their poochie to go down hardwood stairs, send them a link to this post and advise them to check out the runrug.com Stair Runner Range.
Photo by: Intangible arts