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New And Extreme Fear Of Stairs


Guest GreytBigGoofbal
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Guest GreytBigGoofbal

Good day all, I am a new greyhound mama, and so happy to find this supportive and informative discussion group! Our boy Cyclone came home with us three weeks ago, and (although he mostly sleeps and isn't very social indoors) is a better dog than I dared imagine!

 

We were well prepared with tips and tricks to help him learn to go up and down stairs (we live in a third floor apartment), and he took to it suprisingly quickly. On only the second or third day he was going up and down like a pro (only sometimes a little too fast). Just a few nights ago, we were remarking how nice and slow he comes down now, one foot at a time without help. Then he tripped going up, and smashed his shoulder into the top step. From then he started to get more and more nervous, until I came home on Friday to find that my 11yo daughter had taken him out, and had to have a neighbor carry Cyclone up all those steps when he simply laid down at the bottom and refused to budge.

 

I took him out myself to practice the steps. He shook and balked and whined... and when finally we started down he did okay - until halfway, at which point his legs turned to jelly and he fell and slid about 6 steps to the base of the stairs. After a couple more tries (for which he was very reluctant and about which I feel like a total jerk for making him try) he laid down and refused to go. I carried him up (no small feat, I am a small person, and he is a big boy) and set him on his feet at the top of the stairs. He wobbled the few paces down the hall to our door, then laid down and refused to move again. I carried him inside and sat with him on his blanket while he panted and drooled profusely.

 

Saturday morning I bought him a harness with a handle to assist in navigating the stairs. Since then, this is how it goes: I stand behind him with my knees against his rear legs (like he's sitting in my lap), and one hand on the harness. We go up very slowly, as I move his legs one at a time, all the while supporting him with the harness and my legs. He shakes and leans into the wall, and at least once per trip goes "noodly," letting his legs go completely limp. At the top of each set of stairs we congratulate and pet him, give him a second to rest, and then continue on. (Going down stairs is fine, nice and slow, but he likes to have me be in front of him, and has to take a few seconds to screw up his courage.)

 

He's had a clumsy back-and-forth sway to his swagger since we got him, and sometimes trips on his long legs,but other than that he is walking just fine. He is jaunty and happy in the park, but as we hit the point at which he knows we're heading home, he slows waaaaaay down, and pauses more frequently. By the time we get back to the house he is shaking and panting and an anxious mess! But, once we reach the top stair and our hallway, he's all trots and tail wags again. So, I don't think he's hurt.

 

I'm hoping that time and patience will help Cyclone regain his confidence. It is a struggle for me to keep my own anxiety level down, and it is absolutely killing my back supporting his weight up the stairs several times a day, but I'm sure it's nothing compared to how he is feeling. If anyone has advice, or even a story of triumph over a similar fear to give us something to look forward to, it would be most appreciated!

 

Thank you for reading our story!

 

 

 

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Can you see through the backs of the stairs? I'm just curious because both of my greys did stairs perfectly...unless you could see through them. I think they end up focusing on stuff behind the stairs and then misstep and freak out. It will definitely take some patience at this point, but hopefully you can work up to actually going up them quickly with him focusing at the top of the stairs and not looking through them. Maybe your daughter can be up at the top with an AMAZING treat and talking to him the whole time you're helping him up. A quick pace is better if you can get him moving. The trick is to get him looking at the top. :)


Can you see through the backs of the stairs? I'm just curious because both of my greys did stairs perfectly...unless you could see through them. I think they end up focusing on stuff behind the stairs and then misstep and freak out. It will definitely take some patience at this point, but hopefully you can work up to actually going up them quickly with him focusing at the top of the stairs and not looking through them. Maybe your daughter can be up at the top with an AMAZING treat and talking to him the whole time you're helping him up. A quick pace is better if you can get him moving. The trick is to get him looking at the top. :)

 

I'm guessing you can see through them, which is why he does so much better going downstairs...


Okay, I quoted myself...doh!

Edited by grey14me

gallery_2175_3047_5054.jpg

 

Michelle...forever missing her girls, Holly 5/22/99-9/13/10 and Bailey 8/1/93-7/11/05

Religion is the smile on a dog...Edie Brickell

Wag more, bark less :-)

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Guest GreytBigGoofbal

Thanks for your responses! They are not open stairs, although that's a good thought. He does like to see my daughter (so far his favorite person!) at the top, though!

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Oh wow. I'm sorry I don't have any advice or experience for that many stairs. That's a lot! But - I do know that as quickly as greys can pick up worries and troubles - they can also loose them. Keep up the good work. I think the harness is a Fantastic idea. I would always try to have someone else with you while doing stairs for a while if you can (for your safety, too). Stay positive and upbeat and encouraging! (even if you're not really feeling it - fake it). Confidence from you instills confidence in him. Use your "happy voice" - "OK here we go! Ok, we'll take a break. Now let's go! Let's go get a treat!". Lots of people use lots of treats on stairs - but I'm guessing if he's freaked out right now - he'll ignore treats on the stairs. If he'll take one when you get to a landing for a break or at the top and bottom that would be cool.

 

It sounds like you are really dedicated! Thank you for that! Hang in there - and I'm sure you'll get good advice here.

 

Congrats on getting Cyclone and welcome to GT.

Edited by sobesmom
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Stairs can be nightmare! This is what I did with Brady.

 

I aways walked in front of him going down, that kept his speed under control so he would not miss a step. Going up I was always behind him to steady him if lost courage or missed a step. The harness will help a lot.

 

The other thing that helped Brady, was finding different steps, outside usually cement (nothing slick like tiles) a church, school --- exterior stairs that were not associated with his fear. I made a game out of it with treats going up and down a few times each walk. I treated at the top and bottom of the stairs. (I did this off and on for months) The exterior stairs because traction really helped build his confidence.

 

Can you break up the 3 flights up with a walk down the hall and a treat at each floor?

 

Welcome to Greytalk and congradulations on the new addition to the family.

 

I feel your pain and his fear--

 

Debbie

Edited by bradymom

groupwindia-greytalk2.jpg

The handsome boy Brady, mid-morning nap. The sun, the sun feels so, so, so good.

I can't keep my eyes open ... ... Retirement agrees ...

... and the Diva Ms India, 2001 - 10/16/2009 ....

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Guest GreytBigGoofbal

Thanks again! I'm so thankful for all of your responses.Sobesmom is right, he won't take treats when he's stressed. And, Bradymom, yes, there is a hallway and a chance for a break and some loves between the flights of stairs.

 

Today he is obviously in pain :( when squatting to poop, his legs gave out and he fell, poor baby. I had to carry him half the way home and all the way up the steps. I called a vet (we don't have one yet, but I've read on this forum about a good one for greys in my area). Hopefully we'll get it all sorted out soon, and without pain I'm sure his fears will be much easier to deal with.

Edited by GreytBigGoofbal
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Guest greytone

Maybe I am just a little bit too fashioned....I put treats on the steps and take the dog's paws and simple move them slowly up the stairs. I don't give the dog an option to go down or to be afraid. They have to be able to steps at my house. I've had GHs for 15 years and this is how I've always done it.

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The only words I have are to keep on trying (as if you have a choice, huh). As was said above, very often the thing that makes them quake in their shoes can disappear overnight.

 

An example: Three times in the past 10 months my girl has run into the sliding screen door that leads outside at the French doors in the family room. Thankfully it went over easily and quickly, but the first time it scared her so much that she refused to go into the family room for days, let alone walk out the door. I had to leash her up, go out the front door and walk around to the fenced back yard. (In all honesty, it was my fault she ran into the screen because I had forgotten to push it aside before allowing her near the door. The screen is so fine, she couldn't see it.) Within a week, she graduated to going out this door directly into the backyard if I had her on the leash. Then two days later, she would run out the door with no problem. Anyway, long story short, last week, when she ran into it for the third time, knocking it out because I stupidly called her to go out before I had the screen open, it didn't faze her at all. She barely noticed (smart or stupid??) and never hesitated to use the door.

 

I think continuing to have your boy go up and down with your daughter's encouragement will do the trick. Have confidence and faith that it will work and it will.

Edited by Feisty49
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If he has a muscle or other injury, he needs to be able to NOT do stairs until that heals. Have you talked with your adoption group?

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 GreytBigGoofbal

I have not talked with the adoption group yet. To be honest, I was hoping that getting over this would be quick and easy (like learning the stairs was for Cyclone in the first place), but today I have to admit that we need help. I will call the adoption/rescue center tomorrow. I have left a message with the vet, but will try again in the morning.

 

I do help him up one foot at a time, one step at a time, and that worked brilliantly when we first brought him home. He won't usually take treats outside of his kennel, especially when stressed. I've tried. Thanks for that suggestion though.

 

I've decided (hopefully not unwisely) to carry him down and up until we see the vet, because he seems to me to be in pain. He collapsed today without even being in view of the stairs, as though he was simply too exhausted or painful to continue. And in the house he is uncharacteristically mopey.

Edited by GreytBigGoofbal
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Thanks again! I'm so thankful for all of your responses.Sobesmom is right, he won't take treats when he's stressed. And, Bradymom, yes, there is a hallway and a chance for a break and some loves between the flights of stairs.

 

Today he is obviously in pain :( when squatting to poop, his legs gave out and he fell, poor baby. I had to carry him half the way home and all the way up the steps. I called a vet (we don't have one yet, but I've read on this forum about a good one for greys in my area). Hopefully we'll get it all sorted out soon, and without pain I'm sure his fears will be much easier to deal with.

 

Thanks again! I'm so thankful for all of your responses.Sobesmom is right, he won't take treats when he's stressed. And, Bradymom, yes, there is a hallway and a chance for a break and some loves between the flights of stairs.

 

Today he is obviously in pain :( when squatting to poop, his legs gave out and he fell, poor baby. I had to carry him half the way home and all the way up the steps. I called a vet (we don't have one yet, but I've read on this forum about a good one for greys in my area). Hopefully we'll get it all sorted out soon, and without pain I'm sure his fears will be much easier to deal with.

Oh - if he's in pain - all bets are off as far as the initial question about overcoming a fear. When you mentioned his legs getting noodly before I thought it was just fear. I didn't realize he had an injury. Again - you're doing the right thing getting him to the vet. If he's having trouble with his legs no wonder the stairs are a terror! And, that's probably why he stumbled and banged his shoulder.

 

Take care of your back until you figure this out. Squat and lift from the knees, don't bend over. Get help whenever you can and only do the stairs for the absolutely "necessary" outs. I've known people to sling a bath towel under a dog and have 2 people carry it - you might have to do this right now. (towel spread out)

 

Please let us know how you make out. I'd suggest doing whatever you need to do to get by for now. Don't worry about training stairs at this point. When you get the vet's diagnosis - then you can make a game plan. Until then - just do whatever you need to do. Honestly if it was me - I'd have to set up a potty spot in the house and put down a piece of indoor-outdoor carpeting and stuff and basically build a litter-box. There's no way I could carry a dog 3 flights of stairs.

 

Something to consider, if he has an injury that needs time to heal, it might be in everyone's best interest for him to go back to his foster home until he's healed up. I know if a foster of mine was adopted to you and had an injury that made stairs difficult, and that many stairs were a necessity, I'd DEFINITELY offer to grey-sit him until he got healed up and could try it again. If you need to ask for help - ask for help.

 

I admire and appreciate how much you're doing for Cyclone. When do you go to the vet? This is no longer a training issue - it's now a medical issue. You might need some outside help. Luckily, the greyhound community is a fabulous one. Talk to your group - talk to your grey's foster home - and talk to us.

 

No need to answer - but where "generally" do you live? There may be GT'ers nearby that could help. If you're in PA or NY I'll offer to greysit until he's healed and can do stairs again (I don't have stairs). Just throwing out an offer. I'll bet other GT'ers would too, if your group or Cyclone's foster family don't do the same.

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I could not of said it better than Sobesmom.

 

Debbie

groupwindia-greytalk2.jpg

The handsome boy Brady, mid-morning nap. The sun, the sun feels so, so, so good.

I can't keep my eyes open ... ... Retirement agrees ...

... and the Diva Ms India, 2001 - 10/16/2009 ....

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If he's in pain while doing stairs it may just make his fear worse or that could be what you're seeing instead of fear.

What material is the floor on the stairs? If it's slippery, get either carpet treads or cut up a yoga mat for each step for better traction.

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Guest normaandburrell

We also have stairs and had to train both our greys to do them. One set is open stairs and the other is slick stairs, so they were quite difficult initially for our dogs.

I think what you were doing with him was just fine, and I really commend you for your effort. We pretty much had to almost carry our second and biggest grey up our stairs for two weeks, using a harness and one of us behind him, just like you described doing, and even that was started to kill our backs. When he stopped acting so scared and seemed to just be waiting for our help, that's when we simply used treats to encourage him. He goes up and down fine now.

Unfortunately, it sounds like your dog was injured and now you need the vet's and maybe your adoption group's help. But I really think you should be congratulated for your dedication to this dog. Please don't get too discouraged to try again. You have done your best, and you have gotten a lot of good advice in this thread. It sounds like you will make great hound owners.

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Guest GreytBigGoofbal

Hello again! We are all feeling a bit better today. In general response to the most recent comments: I didn't think he was painful until he collapsed yesterday. I feel foolish and awful for not figuring it out sooner, but since he wasn't limping on his walks, and didn't react to me touching or bending his feet and legs, I thought it was all fear-based. We'll know more conclusively when we visit the vet on Friday. Til then, I don't mind carrying him. He's his usual curious, happy self today, he even asked to go out by going to the door - a first for him! He rarely comes out of his crate without invitation! - and had his usual grin and tail wags for me when I got home.

 

Sobesmom: thanks for the tips. He didn't have a foster home, he came straight to us from the rescue center. We are in Southern Maine. I DO have a wide and supportive network of friends who are dog-lovers close by, including a couple of vet-techs. I know that many of them would be happy to help with Cyclone, if need be. I'm going to wait for the vet's word on pain and how to manage it before I ask anyone else to watch him. He's kinda picky about where he goes potty - he likes weeds and grass - but we do have a (shared, thirdfloor) porch where it would be possible to set up an alternative potty place. And thank you for your offer, that's incredibly sweet!

 

Sambuca - the stairs are carpeted thank goodness!

 

Thanks to all for your advice and encouragement! I'll update everyone after our Friday vet visit.

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Guest GreytBigGoofbal

Cyclone is in the hospital for the night. It looks like his fall was more a symptom of a neurological condition, rather than any of his recent weakness/reluctance/fears being results of the fall. No injuries, that's the good news, but it looks like we might have a long (and expensive) road ahead of us. We will know more tomorrow after the neurologist examines him, they do some bloodwork, etc. Here's hoping it turns out to be something easy to take care of.

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Oh my word. I hope he can be treated, and not too expensively. Can your adoption group help?

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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Sending prayers and good thoughts your way.

 

Debbie

groupwindia-greytalk2.jpg

The handsome boy Brady, mid-morning nap. The sun, the sun feels so, so, so good.

I can't keep my eyes open ... ... Retirement agrees ...

... and the Diva Ms India, 2001 - 10/16/2009 ....

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Guest Houston1219

I read this thread a little while back and later it came back to my mind and a thought struck me. Could it be something with his vision? It sounds odd but my grandmothers depth perception is starting to go and she is vary wary of stairs. Ever gone up a few fights with one eye closed? I would likely fall on my face and be afraid of stairs. It's kind of left field, but it was just something that came to me.

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How did Cyclone make out after his night at the vet? Is there a diagnosis? I've got my fingers crossed that it's something that can be taken care of. You're obviously very dedicated and caring. It sounds like Cyclone is a wonderful dog, so I hope there's a positive outcome for you.

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Guest GreytBigGoofbal

Hey everybody - thank you for your warm well wishes! Cyclone has a neurological issue that is difficult to pinpoint without an MRI (a procedure I can't even begin to afford). The best guess is a ruptured disc in his upper thoracic or lower cervical vertebrae. His front end is very weak, and the three vets we saw (including a neurologist) agree that his fall on the stairs (and other, smaller tumbles) are likely a symptom of the rupture, not the other way around. There are many other signs that a ruptured and/or swollen disc is the problem. He is on a course of three drugs: prednisone, doxycycline, and gabapentin. We will re-check in a week or so. He is also on strict kennel rest for 6-8 weeks. Time will tell, but hopefully this course of action is the right one, and he feels better soon!

 

I did talk with the director of the rescue center where we adopted Cyclone. The short version of the story is hat they can't help.

Edited by GreytBigGoofbal
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Can your adoption group help?

 

Where are you located?

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'm surprised the group won't do anything for a pre-existing condition but you tried ..... I don't know your part of the country well. Are you anywhere near a university veterinary school? Sometimes their teaching hospitals can/will do diagnostics like an MRI much more cheaply than the non-university specialists. Not always, but sometimes......

 

Is he staying with a foster or are you having to carry him up and down?

 

Really hope the course of meds and rest help him. You are obviously a committed and compassionate owner, and you and your boy deserve to have some good times together.

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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