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The Only Issues Is The Stairs....


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A couple of days ago we got our lovely, four year old greyhound, Baxter. He seemed to be the perfect dog. He holds it till we go outside, isn't agressive, doesn't really bark and loves to cuddle. The day we picked him up, he wasn't really frightened as he had already bonded with us and trusted us. Even at home he just explored then settled down. My plan was to have him sleep in my room. We tried to get him up the stairs, one foot at a time, but even that is hard when a 70 lbs greyhound is leaning on you. We finnally got up but he seemed bored in my room, constantly walking around and even chewing stuff. We knew he couldnt sleep upstairs anymore so we had to get him down. When we tried to get him to walk down, he wouldn't even go near the stairs. In the end we had to carry him down. The whole time he tensed all of his muscles. We tried soothing him and reassuring him but by the end he was panting.

 

We live in a two story house so it would be really nice if he could learn to navigate the stairs by himself. We don't know how to teach him though. We tried treats, one foot at a time, carpet pads and nothing seems to be working. We were going to let him settle in more then we will try again. Any tips?

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It's going to take time. Are your stairs enclosed or open? Carpeted? Do you have a harness?

 

It took Brandi a week to learn the stairs. She weighs 32 kg and we carried her till then. We found that moving her physically one foot at a time helped, but in the end we used her harness. I supported her like a suitcase and moved her up supporting her all the way. Lots of treats and praise. We also practiced outside at the park.

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Lunchmeat. I used smoked turkey. Put it on the first step, let him take it. Put it on the secon step, let him take it. Etc. Don't do all the steps at once. Down is hard and scary for them, and can be terrifying for you (and dangerous) if they decide to jump it. A harness makes a good handle so that doesn't happen. If there are any outdoor stairs you can use to practice, that may help.

 

If the stairs aren't carpeted, but stair treads. Make sure his nails aren't too long.

 

Don't rush it. Letting him settling in the way you're planning to do is the best thing for now.

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The stairs aren't carpeted but we got treads. They are closed. We would practice outside but the most i can find is four steps and he does those no problem. We might go over to a friends house later today. Their steps a carpeted and less steep. Plus they have a dog that Baxter could watch. We were considering getting a harness. do they need a certain fit? Or can greyhounds fit into ones made from normal dogs?

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The way I teach stairs is I put a leash and collar on the dog. Going up, I stand behind the dog and use the leash to prevent turning. I get their front feet on the second step up and put my knee in their crotch and lift up a step or 2. Since they can't turn because of the leash, they must go up. As for down, I get in front of them, use the leash shortened to get their head right in my butt, then use the leash to start walking down the stairs. My butt prevents them from seeing all the stairs so it's not as scary. I sometimes have to pull them a bit. I live alone and had to figure out a good way to do this. I do it 2-3 times a day and they learn within 3-5 days.

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The stairs aren't carpeted but we got treads. They are closed. We would practice outside but the most i can find is four steps and he does those no problem. We might go over to a friends house later today. Their steps a carpeted and less steep. Plus they have a dog that Baxter could watch. We were considering getting a harness. do they need a certain fit? Or can greyhounds fit into ones made from normal dogs?

For outdoor practice, look at older churches. Many have fairly wide concrete or stone steps with a large landing to turn around on. Probably don't do it this morning though -- the church goers might not understand!

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You'll get lots of good advice. My advice is: Don't give up and don't be intimidated. If having Baxter doing the stairs to the second floor is important to you, you need to teach him. If it's not, then don't sweat it.

 

My girl Annie never had issues with outside stairs. In my previous house, though, where I lived when she was adopted, she would not do the stairs to the second floor. They had a wall on one side and spindles on the other. They had carpet treads covering most of each step. Since she was fine downstairs at night by herself -- not in a crate -- her doing the stairs wasn't an issue for me, until 6 months post adoption when one night she cried and whined. It was obvious she was lonely. That night I slept on the couch in the living room so she wasn't alone but for me, a couch is for sitting not sleeping and the next morning Annie learned how to do the stairs going to the second floor.

 

With a collar and leash on her, I made her go to the bottom of the stairs -- yes I had to push her the last five feet -- and standing behind her, I did the leg,leg,leg,leg and then a gentle push on her bottom, each step to the top. She shook a little. She wasn't happy, but it had to be done. Going down the stairs, I was one step ahead of her, leash short, with her head at my waist and did the leg,leg thing again. At the bottom I immediately did the routine again. At the 5th time, she ran up the stairs and back down by herself and has been fine every since.

 

She is not food motivated. Putting treats on stairs was not an incentive. I did hand feed her treats every few steps and at the top and bottom. I know, though, that the treats had nothing to do with her success.

 

It helped that by that time I had confidence in owning a Greyhound. I was no longer nervous she might break. I had realized that she is after all a dog and I'm a human and for me, spoiling her did not include sleeping every night on the couch.

Edited by Feisty49
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Good advice above.

 

Going down, I do a little differently -- I stay beside the dog, one hand on collar or harness, one hand in front of chest or between front legs. If dog freezes, I use that 2nd hand to lift up the front end of the dog and plop it down a step. At that point the back feet will usually follow. I brace my butt against the wall of the stairs so I don't tumble, and I always wish I had at least one more hand.

 

Important note: A fearful (or crazy :) ) dog learning to go down may want to jump. Keep a good hold of your collar/harness.

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I've also had good luck having them follow another dog who is confident on stairs going up. Still have to be careful about them walking to jump coming down tho. I've never actually had to teach one from scratch since my existing dogs have always taught my new greyhounds how to navigate steps/stairs.

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Something I forgot to mention above: I had wooden floors in my former home. I put a small rug at the top and bottom of the staircase. This gives confidence when moving down the stairs from the top and also when getting to the bottom, and vice versa.

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I'm gathering you didn't have an adoption group like I did who required me to read a couple of books about adopting a Greyhound BEFORE I brought one home? I strongly suggested the "For Dummies" book on Greyhounds (not that I'm saying you're a dummy!). All kinds of good tips and tricks. Stairs is someone nearly every Greyhound needs to be taught. And yes, one paw at a time if necessary! He'll get it!

 

If your stairs are wood, you might consider some of those carpeted stair tread things. Wooden stairs are a bit tough for any dog.


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