How to Train Your Dog to Use Pet Stairs

How to Train Your Dog to Use Pet Stairs
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon1-2 Weeks
General training category iconGeneral

Introduction

Small dog breeds tend to use pet stairs to get up onto and down from furniture safely. A small dog or a tiny breed jumping off of a bed or a couch could suffer an injury. So owners of these sweet tiny dogs often buy pet stairs so their dogs can climb up onto couches and beds to join their owners without becoming injured. However, teaching your dog to use any stairs, even pet stairs, becomes a necessity if you have them in your home. Dogs aren't necessarily made, especially tiny dogs, to maneuver stairs. If you have pet stairs, take a good look at them from your tiny dog’s point of view, and ask yourself if they are in a position where your dog is safe. For instance, be sure to place your pet stairs next to a wall on one side, so your dog doesn't tumble off of either side as he's going up or down. While your dog is new to walking up and down pet stairs, stay close to him and keep a close eye on him.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to use pet stairs is straightforward and won't take a whole lot of time. You will need to entice your dog to want to use the pet stairs. The reward at the end may be the ability to be on the couch or the bed with you. However, your dog won't know the dangers of jumping up or down from the furniture himself. He also won't be aware of the risks of using pet stairs, such as tumbling off the sides of them, so you need to be sure you are teaching him how to not only use pet stairs but also use them properly. Enticing your dog with treats to master one step at a time is an excellent way to teach your dog how to move up and down pet stairs. You can also start with the reward of being at the top with you and try to motivate your dog to maneuver the stairs safely.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Getting Started

Get yourself some high-value treats such as cheese or hot dogs to entice your dog to want to use pet stairs. Have some patience and be sure, while you are in training and until your dog masters his pet stairs on his own, you are close by, watching him each time he uses them. You may also want a leash to help guide your dog up and down the pet stairs. If you have a partner nearby who can assist, it is undoubtedly beneficial but not necessary, as pet stairs aren't typically very high. If you have a larger dog that is not going to use the pet stairs, you may want to keep him in a different room during training sessions so your small dog can learn how to use the pet stairs without distractions or someone too big for the stairs in the way.

arrow-up-icon

Top

The Make it a Game Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

First treat

Use a high-value treat and place it on the floor in front of the steps. Expect your dog to gobble up the tasty treat.

2

Second treat

Show your dog a second treat and let him watch you place it on the first step of his new pet stairs. Your dog should at least rear up if not step up to get to the treat. Once he does, let him eat the treat and offer him lots of excitement, enthusiasm, and verbal praise.

3

Second step

If your dog was enthusiastic about getting the first treat on the first step, try for the second step. This may require him to take a step up the first step to reach the treat on the second step. If your dog is uncomfortable or apprehensive about going up the steps to get to the treat, continue practicing on the first step.

4

Lure upward

As long as your dog is moving up each step to accept the treat on the step above, continue to lure him up until he has mastered the entire set of pet stairs. If he is at all apprehensive about moving on to the next step, keep him where he's comfortable, offering him treats until he is brave enough to take a step forward and up.

5

Going down

Once your dog has mastered going up his pet stairs, he will, of course, need to master coming down them as well. Start training going down by starting on the ground level and working toward the first step.

6

First step

Lure your dog up one step by using a treat. Once you have offered him a treat and verbal praise, put a treat on the ground while your dog stays on the first step.

7

Second step

Once your dog has mastered coming off of the first step, repeat for the second step.

8

Continue

Continue practicing with your dog, luring him up the entire flight of steps and back down. For the first several times your dog uses his new pet stairs, be sure to supervise in case of failures and falls.

The On the Leash Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Leash

Attach a leash to your dog and gently guide him up the first step.

2

Down

Once your dog is on the first step, turn him around carefully and bring him back down.

3

Treat

Once your dog is back on ground-level, offer him a treat and verbal praise for a job well done mastering that first step.

4

Practice

Repeat the steps above a few times only using the first step. After your dog is quite comfortable going up the first step, turning around, and coming down the first step to ground-level, increase by a step.

5

Continue

Practice with your dog, increasing a level each time he is comfortable with the previous level until he has mastered the entire unit. Be sure to bring him down each time he goes up as well.

6

Rewards

Always reward your dog for a job well done once he has gone up the number of steps you wish him to master and gone down those same number of steps.

The Encourage from Top Method

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon

Effective

0 Votes

Ribbon icon
1

Position yourself

Place yourself at the top of your dog’s pet stairs. This may mean on your couch or at the top of your bed depending on where you have your pet stairs located.

2

Encourage

While sitting or lying up at the top of the stairs, encourage your dog to join you by patting on the top of the stairs. Be sure to use verbal commands, such as "come here" or your dog's name to get his attention.

3

Treat

You can also offer your dog a treat at the top of the stairs. If he is apprehensive, you can put the treat one or two steps up and encourage him with verbal praise to come and get it.

4

Call

From the top of the pet stairs, call your dog by name. Encourage him to come to you with verbal commands.

5

Excitement

Sit at the top of the pet stairs and with excitement, encourage your dog to come up. If your dog does not budge, go to the bottom of the stairs with your dog and encourage him by patting each step with enthusiasm. Continue to move yourself from the top of the stairs to the bottom of the stairs, encouraging him. Feel free to entice with treats as well.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 11/15/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

Have a question?

Training Questions and Answers

Dog nametag icon

Tito

Dog breed icon

Maltese

Dog age icon

8 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

0 found helpful

User generated photoUser generated photo

I got this stairs for him to get on n off the bed by himself, it’s been 4 days since got this. He occasionally climbs up n gets down, but in the photo attached , you can see he seems to be uncomfortable in using the third step. He just jumps off from third step, I’m worried if it’s not suitable for him and he might get hurt. He has congestive heart condition, is it safe to make him use this stairs?

Aug. 26, 2020

Tito's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Murelli, First, know that many dogs tend to jump the last step if they are comfortable jumping in general. I would speak to your vet about whether this is safe or not for him. I am not a vet. As far as teaching him to slow down, practice having pup go up and down the steps with him on a back clip harness and leash. Place a treat on each step so that he has to go down more slowly to eat each treat as he goes. Practice this until he has developed a habit of touching each step on his way up and down. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Aug. 26, 2020

Dog nametag icon

Rosie

Dog breed icon

Jack Russell Terrier

Dog age icon

8 Years

Question icon

Question

Thumbs up icon

1 found helpful

Thumbs up icon

1 found helpful

Need train Rosie to walk up steps to bed

Jan. 1, 2020

Rosie's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

Recommendation ribbon

1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I suggest using the Treat Trail method from the article linked below. First, also be sure that you dog is able to use stairs with his age - some older dogs with severe arthritis or back issues will not be able to go downstairs without a specially made doggie harness that has a handle that allows you to assist them by holding their weight up a bit. https://wagwalking.com/training/use-stairs-1 It sounds like you are specifically teaching pup to use bed stairs. The method will be the same for bed stairs and regular house stairs. Taking it one step at a time and luring with treats. Try to act happy and confident to boost her confidence during the training. Practice a lot with rewards - so that pup gets to the point where she wants to use the stairs in hopes of treats over trying to jump up on the bed still from other angles. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 10, 2020


Training assistant
Need training help?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install


© 2022 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.