How to Train Your Dog to Use Pet Stairs

Easy
1-2 Weeks
General

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.

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.

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.

The Make it a Game Method

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Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
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.
Step
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.
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.
Step
7
Second step
Once your dog has mastered coming off of the first step, repeat for the second step.
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.
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The On the Leash Method

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Step
1
Leash
Attach a leash to your dog and gently guide him up the first step.
Step
2
Down
Once your dog is on the first step, turn him around carefully and bring him back down.
Step
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.
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.
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.
Step
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.
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The Encourage from Top Method

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Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
4
Call
From the top of the pet stairs, call your dog by name. Encourage him to come to you with verbal commands.
Step
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.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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