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Teaching Stairs To A Tripod Who Never Learned Prior To Amp


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Buster lost his back right leg in a racing injury. He never learned stairs before losing the leg.

 

Any tips or tricks particular to this situation? I've gone through all the usual stuff that I've used to train off-the-track-dogs. He is highly food motivated, but it stops working when the stairs come into play - hot dogs, cheese, etc get ignored.

 

I didn't force the issue right when he came home because I wasn't sure how "comfortable" he was to being a tripod in navigating a situation like stairs... but we're at the point now that he's coming up on his year anniversary of the amp and is a fantastic tripod, so I feel the physical part is not the issue.

 

One of the first times we did stair training with him, he slipped on his back leg and fell a bit (nothing bad, my husband was behind him to catch him). His attitude towards the stairs after that seemed to change - a little more trepidation and that's also when we stopped trying to force the issue, thinking adjustment time would help....

 

TIA!

With Buster Bloof (UCME Razorback 89B-51359) and Gingersnap Ginny (92D-59450). Missing Pepper, Berkeley, Ivy, Princess and Bauer at the bridge.

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How many stairs are you talking about? We had 13 stairs up to our second floor in CT and a week after Cosmo's amp she got past us and went upstairs despite our efforts to stop her. She already knew how to do stairs, though, but my reason for asking is that after a couple of months she slipped coming down the stairs and pretty much fell all the way down. She was all right, but she might not have been. After that, Jason just carried her up and down. If it's more than 3-4 stairs he has to navigate, I would recommend carrying him too, as inconvenient as it might be. There was just nothing more sickening than hearing Cosmo crash at the bottom of the stairs.

...............Chase (FTH Smooth Talker), Morgan (Cata), Reggie (Gable Caney), Rufus
(Reward RJ). Fosters check in, but they don't check out.
Forever loved -- Cosmo (System Br Mynoel), March 11, 2002 - October 8, 2009.
Miss Cosmo was a lady. And a lady always knows when to leave.

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I would imagine you teach a three legged dog stairs the exact same way you teach a four legged dog! Given Dr. Couto's assertion that Greyhounds are "three legged dogs with a spare."


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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I know that Lucy the tripod no longer does stairs. They said its because the back foot has to hop up the stairs and its much more effort and more room for error. She did stairs before the amp.

That's the part he seems to have the most trouble with - and while when teaching a four legged dog to do stairs I can "force" their legs along, when you do that with a tripod, there is the moment where his entire back end is only supported by me physically moving the back leg. He's not so keen on that. And he doesn't get how to navigate the stairs otherwise.

 

It's a full flight of stairs to the second floor - so 13 or so.

Edited by BauersMom

With Buster Bloof (UCME Razorback 89B-51359) and Gingersnap Ginny (92D-59450). Missing Pepper, Berkeley, Ivy, Princess and Bauer at the bridge.

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First thing is to get a support harness. This one is good for back leg tripods:

 

http://www.ruffwear.com/Web-Master-Harness_2

 

It allows you to help them without touching their legs, like you would with a four-legged dog, moving each one. You can carry them sort of like a suitcase with it! Then find some shorter stairs - outside maybe, three or four steps, somewhere he doesn't have an issue with them already. Tripods HAVE to go faster up the stairs. It looks scary as heck, but they have to have some momentum to get all the way up. It does involve some coordination and they just have to learn it, even with 4 legs.

 

Start him a few feet away, get his speed up using a leash and treats, while you or DH is holding the harness. Have someone at the top with more smelly treats and being a cheerleader. Hopefully, he'll just sort of hop up them. Take him down and do it again, rinse and repeat until he can do it on his own. It should make going up a longer set of stairs less scary.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Guest Giselle

You're positive that his one hind leg can support his weight? No arthritis or joint issues? If you're sure it's a behavioral issue and not a physical issue, then I'd suggest desensitizing and counter-conditioning him to the stairs. I also agree with starting with a shorter flight or 3-4 stairs. Does he know "Target" (touch your hand with his nose)? If not, it's a very simple behavior to teach:

Teaching Target is important because we'll be using this behavior as a "Hey, don't worry! Let's have fun!" game. No matter what fear we're dealing with, it refocuses him back on us. Once the dog knows Target, you can play Targeting games with him around the stairs. Place your hand to the right > Target! > click/treat. Place your hand to the left > Target! > click/treat. Now, run a few steps towards the stair > Target! > click/treat. Place a hand directly above the first stair > Target! > click/treat. This whole time, the dog should be responding with enthusiasm and speed. If not, take a few steps back and play Target games farther away from the stairs. Training time: 5 - 10 minutes.

 

Once the dog can play Target games happily and quickly near the stairs, try tossing treats onto the stair itself. (Any time you see him dropping his tail or hunching his back like he's scared, start playing Target games with him again.) Keep tossing treats onto the stair until he starts moving towards it in anticipation. Every time he moves toward the stair, click/treat and reward him on the stairs. Training time: 10-15 minutes. Now, we're making the stair the Target, and, from here, it's just a matter of shaping each step. It'll be easier training with a shorter flight of stairs, and I would also recommend supervising him all the time to avoid any crash-and-burns, literally.

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We have that harness - I only tried a few times but he basically was using his weight to avoid going up by leaning against the harness. So it was really like trying to carry a harness full of cement. lol

 

And the short stairs - he just launches himself up and down them, trying to avoid the stairs altogether. What I have been trying to find is a set long enough that he can't jump but short enough that he isn't intimidated. And along Giselle's idea, I was also thinking about working on some basic commands when he starts to melt down. That plus the right set of stairs is probably our best bet.

 

His leg is fine - he's in really good shape and can navigate being a tripod pretty amazingly.

With Buster Bloof (UCME Razorback 89B-51359) and Gingersnap Ginny (92D-59450). Missing Pepper, Berkeley, Ivy, Princess and Bauer at the bridge.

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Know anybody who lives in a tri-level? Those types of homes often have flights of 6-8 stairs that might be useful for him to try.

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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Guest Giselle

You can still do that type of training on short stairs, even if he has a history of bolting up them. We're just changing his emotional reaction to the stairs, so it doesn't really matter how many there are as long as we don't push him over his limit. If we change his fear of stairs to being interested in stairs, he should stop trying to bolt altogether and instead try to interact/touch the stairs to earn his treat.

 

Basic obedience commands can work, too, but I find that Target games are funnest for dogs because they require limited thinking ;)

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You can still do that type of training on short stairs, even if he has a history of bolting up them. We're just changing his emotional reaction to the stairs, so it doesn't really matter how many there are as long as we don't push him over his limit. If we change his fear of stairs to being interested in stairs, he should stop trying to bolt altogether and instead try to interact/touch the stairs to earn his treat.

 

Basic obedience commands can work, too, but I find that Target games are funnest for dogs because they require limited thinking ;)

OK, gotcha.

 

And yes, limited thinking stuff would be perfect for Buster. :lol

With Buster Bloof (UCME Razorback 89B-51359) and Gingersnap Ginny (92D-59450). Missing Pepper, Berkeley, Ivy, Princess and Bauer at the bridge.

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Guest Giselle

Also, this blog is only semi-related, but it highlights the importance of handler technique and illustrates how you can move to keep your dog interested:

http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/reactive-dog-foundation-exercises-for-your-leash-reactive-dog

 

I play Target games like this as well: Start with a quick Target to the right. Run a few steps and then Target to the left. Run backwards and Target. Do a quick turn and Target. Get into Heel position and Target. Do a spin and Target. It's little movements like these that keep the dog interested, enthusiastic, and willing to confront scary objects, like stairs.

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