How to help my dog go down stairs?

asked 2020-08-01 18:33:03 -0500

I adopted a 1.5 year old dog today and i can't get her to go down the stairs so I can take her outside. I have tried treats and she still won't go down. The stairs are the only way to get out of my home. I don't know what to do.

Any help would be really appreciated!

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answered 2020-08-02 10:00:49 -0500

Stephanie's idea of using another dog to show the way is excellent. However, if your dog doesn't get the idea, then you need to try a compound approach. Your dog is afraid. Therefore, link your dog to the another that she likes using a "daisy chain" which is a coupler with snaps on both ends and have yours follow the other one around for a period of time. After your dog gains some confidence, then try the stairs in this mode.

Google: Brandon McMillan and daisy chain and watch some videos how he approaches a shy/timid/fearful dog by letting a more adjusted dog pave the way.

Also, I don't know how you are using the treats. But try laying the treat on the stair itself, starting at the bottom of the stairs first. Going up is less scary than down. Lay it initially just within the dog's reach, then move it further away. Make sure they are high-value treats. Take it slow and continue to reward and praise. Then do the same with going down.

Good luck!

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Thank you for your ideas! Unfortunately, I can't get her down the stairs to start from the bottom. The door to my home is on the second floor, if I cant get her down the stairs, I can't get her outside. I also don't know any dogs that I could use to help us out. :-( I appreciate your suggestions!

Christina F.'s profile image Christina F.  ( 2020-08-02 10:12:37 -0500 ) edit

How much does the dog weigh?

Karen R.'s profile image Karen R.  ( 2020-08-02 14:36:28 -0500 ) edit
answered 2020-08-02 00:42:46 -0500

Try showing her how to do it first and get her excited about doing it! If she sees it as something fun or praise-worthy, she may be more likely to do it. Also, if possible, you could try having someone else's dog go down the stairs in front of her. She may follow after another dog rather than a person. It's possible that she hasn't ever used stairs before, or may have had an accident or injury related to stairs in the past that now makes her nervous or fearful of them. Keep trying your best to show her that it's not something to be afraid of and if treats don't work, you may have to try using other things such as toys, food, chicken, etc. Even if she only goes down one stair, make sure to praise her! Any sort of progress is worth celebrating!

Good luck!!

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Thank you for your ideas! Unfortunately, i don't have access to another dog. Her fear of the stairs has spread and now she won't go out the doorway that leads to the stairs. I dont know much about her past but she has no interest in toys and when she's scared looses all interest in treats.

Christina F.'s profile image Christina F.  ( 2020-08-02 10:16:05 -0500 ) edit
answered 2020-08-02 12:53:21 -0500

Completely agree with previous responses that having another dog help show yours the way is the way to accomplish this.

Since you replied that you did not know any other dogs to accomplish this, I'd suggest contacting whoever you got the dog from (a shelter, a rescue group, or breeder, and even try whatever other dog loving groups are in your area) and try to solicit help from them. If they can't use one of their pets awaiting adoption, maybe someone could assist with their own dog. Also, consider joining Nextdoor.com (a local neighborhood based platform) & Meetup.com's (a localized interest based platform) dog groups . Both are free to join and post. If you had dog clients, (I can't see your profile when I clicked "I'll book a stay in Brighton, MA") you could contact a couple and ask if they could help you out and in exchange you'd significantly discount their next service. Maybe someone who lives in the neighborhood would be available - you may want to call nearby communities property managers.

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Excellent suggestion about posting on NextDoor. You'd be surprised how many people (total strangers) might be willing to help out and bring their dog over.

Karen R.'s profile image Karen R.  ( 2020-08-02 14:37:28 -0500 ) edit

Thank you for the suggestions of NextDoor and Meet up! I did reach out to the shelter and was informed that they think this is a quick fix. They want me to use a choke collar and just pull her down the stairs. I am against a choke collar. What are your thoughts?

Christina F.'s profile image Christina F.  ( 2020-08-04 13:33:40 -0500 ) edit

I'm also against a choke collar. Pulling a dog down stairs wearing 1 makes me even more uncomfortable. If this is your last resort, it's better than another owner surrender of a dog who probably is so excited to be in a home. A neighbor's small dog also needed & got 1 w.silicone nubs. Seems gentler.

Deb A.'s profile image Deb A.  ( 2020-08-04 18:05:36 -0500 ) edit

Another idea is faking her out by pretending to leave (w. her leash etc.) & stand outside the door, maybe beyond where she can see you. See if her desire to be with her new pack leader-you, & not be left alone, is strong enough already that she will conquer what sounds like fear of outside world.

Deb A.'s profile image Deb A.  ( 2020-08-04 18:14:16 -0500 ) edit

Thank you so much for your ideas!!! I did try having her watching me leave, she would peak around the corner at me but not budge.

Christina F.'s profile image Christina F.  ( 2020-08-04 18:16:49 -0500 ) edit
answered 2020-08-06 03:10:22 -0500

You have to take one step at a time. At first, take some treats and wave it in front of your dog's nose and then lure him to go downstairs. Make sure to make your dog feel comfortable.

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