We have all met at least once in our life a master annoyed that his dog does not want to go down the stairs of the house, public transport or just on the street.
In what follows, we will explain the causes of your dog’s fear of stairs. Then we will show you some solutions that you can use for your dog to trust him.
Why are dogs afraid of stairs?
Many dogs are afraid to go up or down the stairs. The causes of this fear are various. However, this fright begins during the dog’s final stage of socialization, ie around his 12th week of life.
During this phase of the puppy’s life, it is highly recommended to get your dog used to various stimuli: different sounds, people, objects, other animals, children, etc. If your dog is not sufficiently confronted with these aspects during this phase of socialization, he will be more likely to develop fears and phobias. So get your dog on the stairs during this phase. It’s very important to him.
In addition to this reason that we have just explained, other causes are possible:
- A traumatic anterior experience: your dog may have already fallen while taking the stairs for example.
- The sound of the stairs: he may be afraid of the noise coming up or down the stairs.
- The immensity of the stairs for the dog: some dogs are simply afraid of the size of the stairs in relation to them. They consider them an insurmountable barrier.
- The genetic factor can be a cause too: Indeed, a dog whose parents were very afraid of the stairs will more easily develop this same fear in turn.
In the following paragraph, we will present some solutions to this generally transient problem.
How to overcome the fear of stairs in dogs?
To overcome this problem, there is unfortunately no quick fix. However, with patience, time and calm, we can end the nightmare of the stairs.
Even if you did not train your dog to the stairs early enough, you can still catch up by re-educating him so that he associates them with something positive. Your dog must understand that it does not represent any danger for him or any threat to his survival.
As with all learning in dogs, positive reinforcement must be used. So, give your dog a reward every time he adopts a suitable behavior for us. With animals, it is important not to use methods based on violence, punishment and obligation because they will only generate stress and frustration.
On the other hand, we all know that when a dog is scared, he adopts one of the following attitudes: flight or attack. If you force him to take the stairs, he is likely to attack you as a result. This can also result in a total loss of trust between you two. Also, you can make your dog unable to learn and evolve if you behave with him as well.
Steps to follow
The exercise we advise you is as follows:
- Call your dog until he arrives near you when you are next to the stairs.
- Give him rewards or toys, and if you still see him a little annoyed, give him something he finds really irresistible like meat or chicken.
- Spend a few sessions giving him rewards next to the stairs for him to associate with something positive.
- Reduce the distance to stairs from day to day without getting your dog to take them. Let him do it himself. It will come alone.
- When your dog is ready, continue the work progressively, by walking a step more per day for example.
- When your dog is either up or down the stairs, congratulate him very strongly by showing your joy so that he understands that he has ensured well.