Do you remember the days when your older dog was a small puppy that could not even reach your bed? Do you remember the first time that he jumped onto your bed without your help? As your dog ages, there are certain tasks that he used to perform with ease that he can no longer do. Things like jumping on and off the bed.
Although your dog's abilities are not what they once were, that does not mean that your friend cannot enjoy some of the same pleasures that he is used to. Pleasures like snuggling with you in bed. He will simply need your help to learn how to get on and off the bed in a different way. You know the old saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"? Well, in this case, you most certainly can teach your old dog a new trick, and that trick is how to use bed stairs.
Being able to use bed stairs is an important skill for an older dog. Even if your older dog is still capable of jumping on and off the bed, being able to use stairs instead could save your dog a lot of soreness and potentially even a broken bone, as his bones become more fragile. Bed stairs can also help dogs who are healing and need to be kept from jumping, or small dogs who would have to jump very high to get on and off of the bed.
While teaching this command to an older dog, it is important to take things slow. Your older dog is more likely to be intimidated by having to maneuver something new like stairs. If your older dog has fallen before that can make him more cautious about walking on new things. He may also be nervous because he simply feels more vulnerable in his aging body.
It is also important to offer your dog physical support if he seems to be struggling with his footing or balance. You can do this by standing directly beside him to offer support at his side, by reaching under him to take some of the weight off of his back legs if he is comfortable with being touched, or by outfitting him with a full body harness that has a handle and holding the handle. Look for a harness that is made specifically for lifting dogs and offering support. If your dog is unstable you may also want to purchase a bed staircase that has some form of railing on the sides or one that has a more gradual incline.
To get started you will need several items, depending on which method you choose to use. If you are using the 'Treat Luring' method, you will need lots of small, soft treats that are easy to eat. If you are using the 'Chase' method, you will need one or two toys that your dog really loves. Something that you can move around and toss to entice your dog, like a tug toy or stuffed animal, will work best. If you are using the 'Harness Assist' method, you will need a dog harness that is specially designed for assisting elderly dogs, disabled dogs, or search and rescue dogs. Something that is padded, supports your dog under his chest and abdomen, and has a handle will work well. For added safety you can use such a harness on your dog when using any of the other methods a well.