How to Teach Your Dog to Use Doggie Stairs

by Judith Willson

If he's used to stairs, training shouldn't be a problem.

You might have no objection to your dog sleeping on the sofa or the bed, and your pet will certainly appreciate the comfort. Unfortunately for small or elderly dogs, actually getting onto the furniture in the first place can be a challenge. Such dogs also risk injuring themselves when they jump off. Doggie steps address this issue -- but expect to spend time teaching your dog how to use them. If your dog is already used to steps, the process should be smooth and fast, but dogs who have never seen stairs before might be uncertain in the beginning, especially if they also have physical problems.

Step 1

Position the doggie stairs in front of the item of furniture your dog needs to access. Leave the stairs in place for a day or so to let your dog become accustomed to them before you teach him to climb up.

Step 2

Call your dog over to the bottom of the stairs. Provide a small reward, such as a piece of kibble or if necessary, a higher-reward treat, as he arrives, as well as praise.

Step 3

Lure your dog to place his paws on the first step by holding kibble or a treat just a few inches in front of his nose. As he goes to take the treat, pull the treat forward and up so that to take it, he needs to put both front paws on the step. Include a command, such as “climb,” “stairs” or “up.”

Step 4

Praise your dog and having him continue up the steps either by placing the treat on a higher step or by continuing to lure the treat a few inches in front of his nose and then forward and up. Continue until he’s at the top. Provide plenty of praise and encouragement throughout, especially if he’s uncertain.

Step 5

Repeat the training sessions, using plenty of praise each time but gradually using fewer treats.

Step 6

Teach your dog to descend the steps, which is more difficult, once he’s comfortable climbing them. Following the same process in reverse, luring him with treats in front of his nose. Take things slowly. Lift him down from the furniture in the meantime, if necessary.

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