The Stairmaster

Is your dog afraid to go down the steps?  This is a fairly common thing among dogs, who we all know are just big chickens most of the time, anyways.  Sometimes its due to a medical problem, but more often than not, it’s just fear that keeps your dog out of the basement.

If you want your dog to join you in your basement rec room, there are a few things you can do to make the journey less stressful for him.  Dogs are typically scared that they will slip and fall down the steps, so try laying stair tread carpet.  You can buy utility grade carpet cut to fit most stair treads at any home repair store.  I think we paid about $15 for ours, but its been several years ago.

Next, if you have open risers (the vertical part of the step), consider nailing in some plywood behind the steps so it doesn’t look like there is such a long way to fall, from the dog’s perspective.  When we had this trouble, we even hung a lattice-work panel over the open edge of the stairwell so Tracy wouldn’t think she was going to fall over the side.

If these suggestions don’t help, you might try what I do with my foster kids who have never had to contend with steps.  I set them on the stairs about 2 or 3 steps up, then guide their legs into stepping (or crawling) down just those few steps.  After a fabulous reward, I put them on about the 4th or 5th step up and do it again until they have the confidence to try the whole staircase. 

With a dog, you may have to work on this a bit more slowly, taking just one step at a time.  Try not to push the dog too hard.  If possible, you want to end each training session with him experiencing something positive, so if he has conquered the first two steps, let that be the end of the session, rather than trying for three, which he could possibly fail.

Until next time,

Good day, and good dog!

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