Many older dogs suffer from painful arthritis, failing joints or hip problems, turning stairs they once bounded up and down into a health hazard. Fortunately, training a senior dog to use a ramp is very easy in most cases.
The rare exceptions are those situations where a dog may have developed a phobia of ramps. Our training methods, detailed below, include a training option specifically designed for dogs that may have ramp phobia.
In the vast majority of cases, teaching your dog to use a ramp will only take a few 10-15 minute training sessions. In addition, it may take a week or so of monitoring them to make sure to teach them that any alternative routes are no longer acceptable.
In the case of a dog that is very resistant to using a ramp, you should plan on spending more time on this behavior – up to a few weeks of regular training sessions.
This is not a behavior you need to put on any specific command. By using the blocking and proofing techniques provided in our training methods below, your dog will learn that the only appropriate way to cross the barrier is to use the ramp.
You will need:
Some dogs can find ramps confusing or frightening at first. For these dogs, it may take a little longer, but be sure to be patient with them. If you start to get frustrated, just give up on the training session and try again later. Look for small progress and give lots of encouragement.
The last thing you want to do is confirm your canine’s ramp phobia by allowing your frustration to confirm their suspicion that ramps are awful!
Our bouvier is quite tall and weighs 135 lbs. He is ramp resistant and has severe hip dysplasia in both hips. Treats up on the ramp front work as he just walks beside it and eats them. Any tips to help get him use the ramp?
Hello Myrna, I suggest using a wooden spoon with peanut butter smeared on it, held in front of him going up the ramp. Encourage him to lick it, then slowly move it over the ramp so that he has to climb the ramp to follow it and continue licking it. Go slow to make it doable for him and keep him motivated. Also, choose a ramp that has carpet or some other material covering it that helps with traction since climbing is especially difficult for him. Finally, you may want to consider something like the support harness linked below, so that you can lift part of his weight for him while he goes up to make it easier for him with his hips. This won't require you having to lift his whole weight, which is heavy, but just make him feel more stable going up and make moving less painful for him by decreasing some of the weight on those hips. https://www.chewy.com/handicappedpets-rear-lift-combo-dog/dp/150037?utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=hg&utm_content=HandicappedPets&utm_term=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwxMjnBRCtARIsAGwWnBP_AsXF1a0mdFBkk1rTX05Gb2Fg6e6oqm_jFfJFI7K_mAceeac4DWIaAhPOEALw_wcB There are several brands and versions of hip supports out there. Read reviews and look for one that doesn't cause chafing and has padding to make it comfortable for him when you lift. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We have installed a new ramp because she has hip displasia on both sides . She got a phobia of this ramp and can not be bribed with treats or toys . How do I even get her to the door , let alone down the ramp
Hello, This is something I recommend hiring a professional trainer who has experience with counter conditioning and operant conditioning to help you with in person. There are a few things that need to be evaluated to determine how to help pup. How steep is the ramp? Does pup need wear a padded harness with a handle still to help support their weight while going up the ramp? What's the flooring surface of the ramp like? Is the issue a lack of traction and pup needing something more gripping to be added to the floor to help them climb the ramp more easily and feel less worried about slipping? Did anything happen specifically to cause pup to be fearful of the ramp, like being forced up or down it, or is it simply the ramp's presence? Pup may need treats to be given further away from the ramp, simply leading up to the ramp but not touching it yet. Pup might the the ramp to become less slippery or be given more assistance due to the angle of the ramp. Pup might need to practice going up slight inclines and creating a positive association with going up inclines in another area, before you come back to the ramp, to give more confidence first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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