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How Do I Teach "slow" On Stairs


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So BRGA is starting therapy dog training, and I immediately signed us up. One of the things mentioned is that when "working", we need to keep the dog's head next to us at all times so we can see and control them. Which means that Capri needs to learn how to go up and down stairs at MY pace when on leash.

 

When we got her, she learned stairs in three days, no sweat, and became quickly confident on them although she runs/jumps up them. I don't care about that in our house, she can do as she pleases to get around the house. But I want to train her to go slowly when on a traffic lead, so I started trying to teach her on our stairs in our house.

 

So far she's confused and worried. Going upstairs seems much harder for her, she stops and tries to turn around. I'm very patient and calm with her. When she stops, I put my hands on her to reassure her, don't let her back down and gently encourage her to go up a few more steps. She tries to leap, which is hard for me to control, even on a 2-foot traffic lead. Oddly enough, going downstairs slowly isn't such a problem.

 

Of course when we get to the top, I give her a BIG treat and lots of praise. I've thought about maybe giving her small treats every few steps as well to give her a happy reason to stop/pause on the stairs. I'm not sure if that will help her understand what I want, though. Basically, I want her to heel when on lead on stairs, but when not on leash, she can still run/jump/whatever. But that's a pretty advanced idea for a dog, I think. I've noticed that the last few days, she starts up the stairs (off leash when we're not training) then pauses, goes back down, and starts again. It's like now she's second-guessing herself not sure if she's doing it right.

 

For those who have done therapy dog training, how did you teach your dogs heeling on stairs?

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

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Guest sriddle13

So BRGA is starting therapy dog training, and I immediately signed us up. One of the things mentioned is that when "working", we need to keep the dog's head next to us at all times so we can see and control them. Which means that Capri needs to learn how to go up and down stairs at MY pace when on leash.

 

When we got her, she learned stairs in three days, no sweat, and became quickly confident on them although she runs/jumps up them. I don't care about that in our house, she can do as she pleases to get around the house. But I want to train her to go slowly when on a traffic lead, so I started trying to teach her on our stairs in our house.

 

So far she's confused and worried. Going upstairs seems much harder for her, she stops and tries to turn around. I'm very patient and calm with her. When she stops, I put my hands on her to reassure her, don't let her back down and gently encourage her to go up a few more steps. She tries to leap, which is hard for me to control, even on a 2-foot traffic lead. Oddly enough, going downstairs slowly isn't such a problem.

 

Of course when we get to the top, I give her a BIG treat and lots of praise. I've thought about maybe giving her small treats every few steps as well to give her a happy reason to stop/pause on the stairs. I'm not sure if that will help her understand what I want, though. Basically, I want her to heel when on lead on stairs, but when not on leash, she can still run/jump/whatever. But that's a pretty advanced idea for a dog, I think. I've noticed that the last few days, she starts up the stairs (off leash when we're not training) then pauses, goes back down, and starts again. It's like now she's second-guessing herself not sure if she's doing it right.

 

For those who have done therapy dog training, how did you teach your dogs heeling on stairs?

 

 

 

Are you giving her a command while on the leash to indicate that you want her to stay with you? I am interested in reading the responses because I need to work with Trubador on this as well.

Edited by sriddle13
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Might see if you can find some short sets of stairs (3-5 stairs only) to practice on first. Could also help to practice fast-slow-fast-slow while just on flat surfaces to really cement the notion of staying with you no matter your speed.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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No, I haven't been trying to use any verbal commands. I was hoping that the presence/absence of the leash was enough. She heels like a dream on leashed walks, so I don't even tell her to "heel" when walking. She's totally sensitive to the tension on the leash, like a finely trained horse. :-) There's something psychological about the stairs that makes her feel unsure about them. Clearly she is jumping up them in order to "get them out of the way" to get where she wants to go.

 

We have four steps up to our porch, and she has no problem stepping up them when we come home from walks. It's just the longer ones, standard flight from floor to floor that makes her anxious.

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

:gh_bow

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You might start attaching a command to stepping slowly up those 4 stairs, praise and a treat when she does it right. Even see if you can get her to stop in the middle of them (hard with just 4, 5 would probably be doable).

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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I think these training ideas are good but I would suggest that rather than trying to do this at home you should go out and incorporate some new sets of stairs into daily walks where she is on the lead anyway - try visiting some footbridges, subways, railway stations, friends' houses, etc etc.

 

This is because I think it will be easier for her to grasp what you are trying to teach her in a new setting than in an existing one where she is used to rushing up and down under her own steam.

 

If you go to more than one place that will also help her 'generalise' this new command. Pick some steps that are quiet, wide and not too steep to make life easier to begin with. Take some treats by all means.

 

With Doc (who is a therapy dog, though as it happens there are no stairs at the day centre we visit!) it largely came down to practice. My stairs at home were the first ones he had seen and he found them difficult to begin with. Soon he learnt to rush up and down at high speed and actually I think it would be physically difficult for him to do them any other way - they are steep and narrow and have a dog-leg turn near the bottom.

 

We live in town and need to go on trains and the underground so he learnt about 'stairs on leash' as part of the same process, as far as I remember. The first time we chose a quiet time of day and went to the station down the road to climb up the stairs and take an overground train one stop down the line, for a nice walk in the park, and then another train home. Ditto with the underground. He was already walking nicely on the lead by then, so soon grasped that he should walk beside me on stairs too.

 

Bear in mind this will be more difficult for the dog on steeper stairs. Doc will still occasionally forget about me when faced with something very challenging but can be reminded to stay beside me with a gentle tug on the lead.

 

Hope that helps!

Clare with Tiger (Snapper Gar, b. 18/05/2015), and remembering Ken (Boomtown Ken, 01/05/2011-21/02/2020) and Doc (Barefoot Doctor, 20/08/2001-15/04/2015).

"It is also to be noted of every species, that the handsomest of each move best ... and beasts of the most elegant form, always excel in speed; of this, the horse and greyhound are beautiful examples."----Wiliam Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753.

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Thanks Doc, I was wondering if I should try this only on someplace new. I'll try to think of somewhere else I can take her that has stairs. So far all I can think of are office buildings but let me think some more...

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

:gh_bow

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I will be reading this thread with great interest. Tippy's idea of going up stairs is to touch as few of them as possible (he LEAPS up the stairs)

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Alisha, Bob, Livvie (the 2.5 year old!) plus Mia Bella, Tippy, + Wahoo and Diesel the crazy kitties (and missing sweet Iceman, Paradise, Bandit, Cujo & Sebastian) in Indian Trail, NC

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Oh a while ago I tried it again (still haven't thought of somewhere else with steps, so did it in our house again). This time I got a handful of treats and put one on each step above her as she ate the previous one. She did pretty well, but jumped the last three steps. Went down and started again, this time I put a treat on every other step and she came up perfectly. I thought doing that might put her focus too much on the food and not on the mechanics of walking slowly upstairs, but it seemed to work just fine. She was focussed on the treats, but it seemed to distract her from nervousness of "where do I put my feet?". I'll try it again in a few days. I'll also try to find somewhere else to work with her, because she does need to generalize it, too.

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

:gh_bow

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We had to overcome the speed thing on some stairs that we routinely climb/descend on our walks. Basically Spencer was going faster than I could keep up! We overcame this by having him follow us up and down the stairs, so that our bodies set the pace as well as his expectations of how fast this should go. It only took a couple of times for him to get the idea. All you have to do then is pair it with the word "heel" or whatever and change it so that the dog is walking with its head beside you. I guess my point is that the expectations need to be changed, and putting your body in the way is one way to start..

Mary with Jumper Jack (2/17/11) and angels Shane (PA's Busta Rime, 12/10/02 - 10/14/16) and Spencer (Dutch Laser, 11/25/00 - 3/29/13).

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Guest brandi1530

I'm going to be watching this thread for ideas. One of mine goes up the steps quickly and then jumps most of the way down to get them out of the way. He does have a bad hock from a racing injury, so I don't know if that affects his confidence on the steps or not. He makes me nervous as he gets older for him to fly down the steps so quickly.

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Guest Furmom

You might start attaching a command to stepping slowly up those 4 stairs, praise and a treat when she does it right. Even see if you can get her to stop in the middle of them (hard with just 4, 5 would probably be doable).

 

 

What we do with Bee since her back issues is tell her safe.... depending on the number of stairs it could be safe, safe, safe... you get the picture.... it caught on :)

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Guest kydie

My grey does therapy work, but he is on a lead when we go up and down stairs, so no issue here, at home, I think my pack thinks our steps were disigned by Nascar :lol since there are 3 flights, some shorter than others to the second floor, and a landing between, they always play,,who can get to the next landing first :blink: , slowing them down would mean DEATH for me :eek

Edited by kydie
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