Dog afraid of going down stairs – Causes and solutions
At home, on the street, on public transport …. In the day to day of our dogs, it is practically inevitable to find a ladder. How many times did we meet a frightened dog in front of a staircase and being dragged by force or in arms by his tutor because he paralyzed as soon as he saw the stairs?
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In this article by YourCatCareguide, we explain why your dog is afraid of going downstairs , what are the causes of fear and what solutions can be applied so that, little by little, your pet gains confidence and security!
Why is the dog afraid to go downstairs?
The fear of going up or down stairs is very common in dogs and there are several causes that cause it. To begin with, it is important to note that fear often arises in the final stage of dog socialization , around 12 weeks of age.
It is very important to accustom your dog to all kinds of stimuli during this phase of his life: people, noise, objects, animals, children, in order to avoid the manifestation of negative emotions such as fears and phobias . Precisely because of this, the lack of exposure at a young age to the stairs, the dogs end up being afraid in adult.
Another cause can cause your dog to see negatively the stairs, is to have suffered from a traumatic experience. Who knows if he ever hurt himself on a paw or had a pillow stuck in the wood as he climbed. You may also have heard some noise as you descend the stairs, or simply the image of the stairs represents an immensity for your chirping dog.
The genetic factor is no less important: a pup of fearful parents will tend to behave like their parents and mimic their mother’s attitudes, acting as a mirror at a young age.
How do you end the fear of stairs?
As the popular saying “who hopes always reaches” says. Unfortunately, there are no miracle solutions to solve your problem, but you will see that with time and calm, the nightmare of the stairs will quickly become only a bad memory.
Even if you have never trained your dog up and down stairs while he was a puppy, do not worry, it can help you see the ladder in a positive way , making him understand that it poses no danger or threat to him.
This learning will be based on positive reinforcement and consists of rewarding our friend every time he has a desired attitude, calm or correct, without using at any moment aversive techniques , punishments or the obligation, since these methods generate inhibition of the behavior. And worse, they can lead to an accident, where your dog or you get hurt.
Do not forget that, in the face of fear, the dog has two options: to escape or to attack. If we force him into something he does not want to do, he will most likely give us a good bite, or he will lose his confidence and be completely inhibited, unable to learn and move forward.
Guidelines to follow
We recommend that you follow this step by step step, which will help you dog with fear of ladder gradually . Remember, you can apply the same guidelines both in the fear of climbing stairs and in the fear of descending stairs:
- We begin the exercise by calling the dog to us, who are sitting near the stairs. We may use rewards or toys to attract you, but if you are afraid, you may want to use a very high reinforcement, some appropriate dog snack, or some vegetable or fruit that he likes, such as a piece of banana or carrot. Always be very careful in your choices, since there are several foods that are prohibited for dogs .
- Make short sessions where you’ll spend time joking and rewarding your dog near the stairs. The idea is that he associates the stairs with the rewards. You can also play with the ball, have a massage or play with them, because games are undoubtedly the best exercises to forget the fears and build a bond of trust between the dog and the guardian.
- It should reduce the space that separates the dog from the stairs, that is, try that with each passing day he plays closer, but always without forcing, we must make our dog approach by its own volition.
- The next step is to make a small rewards path, as if it were Hansel and Gretel, from the floor to the first flight of stairs. If the dog advances little by little, we reinforce with the voice.
- We continue to do the same exercise for a few days without attempting to climb further flights of stairs so the dog gains confidence in himself and does not think he is being cheated.
- When your dog picks up prizes from the first flight of stairs, do the same, but this time until the second. Keep reinforcing with the voice step by step or sometimes reward directly by hand.
- Continue to work gradually on all ladder flights, for example one per day, but it is normal in some cases to be slower.
- If at any time you notice fear or fear in the dog, it is because it is going too fast, go back to the previous flight of stairs.
- As soon as the dog has climbed all the ladder flights without fear with you, it is time to wait for him on top. Call the pet with some reward or toy in hand to attract.
- When he gets to the top, after climbing the ladder without fear, it’s time to congratulate him in an effusive way for him to understand that he has done so phenomenally. Do not forget to repeat the exercise daily so that he does not lose the confidence he has earned.
Once he is accustomed at home, it will be much easier for your puppy to lose his fear elsewhere, though it is advisable to bring rewards for the next rides!