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Stairs Training Help?!


Guest KEWood
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Guest KEWood

We've had Auggie (2-3/4 yrs old, 70 lbs of fun) for a little over a month now. We have a steep flight of 12 wooden steps, with carpet treads, that lead to our bedroom where he sleeps at night. My husband carries him up every night, and down every morning. We have tried getting him to do the stairs a few times now, alternating one foot at a time and keeping the same pattern, and rewarding him with chicken every step, but he stays stiff as a board and shivers. The only movement we get is the movement we create (and of course, from his sniffer as he tries to find the chicken). Can anyone out there offer some hopeful advice?? Will my husband be carrying him his whole life?!?!

 

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I prefer to get behind, with my thighs pressing against them (so they can't back up) and apply steady pressure. Encouragement all the while, of course. I remember moving an occasional foot but I wanted to have HER do most of the moving so that she'd get the idea of what to do. It was 5 years ago when I did this, so my memory is faded. But I believe, for the very first session which was also on the very first night that we got her, I led and encouraged and hubby did the thigh thing. She HAD to learn the first night, there's no way I'm strong enough to even attempt to carry her up and down. In the morning, coming down for the first time, I put a collar on her and kept her from leaping down and building up speed. So I was ballast, LOL. Next night, it probably took both of us again but then all it took was me behind her. In a few days, she was fine on her own.

Edited by OwnedBySummer

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Lisa B.

My beautiful Summer - to her forever home May 1, 2010 Summer

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Do you have a harness?

We slipped Jack's harness on him, picked him up like a suitcase and hop we did the stairs together. I made sure to put him between me and the wall so he wouldn't go anywhere else. At first his leg went all over the place, but it was the only way for us to make him learn. In 3 days (we didn't do a lot of repetitions because stairs wasn't essential at our house) he got into the basement all by himself because he wanted to follow mommy.

Good luck!

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First, Auggie will learn but your husband has to stop carrying him up and down. Lots of people will give you good advice and much of it will start off by saying your husband is enabling Auggie to not learn the stairs.

 

I too was hesitant to "make" Annie do the stairs. I tried, but she trembled and shook and was obviously scared. So every night I went upstairs to the bedroom while she slept alone downstairs. One night about 6 months after adoption she woke me with crying and whining. She didn't have to go potty. She was lonely. That night I slept downstairs with her, but I like my bed too much to do that all the time (unless Annie was sick) so the next day I said to her, "You will learn stairs today!" And she did.

 

She is not food motivated. Food on each step did nothing. I did praise and encourage each step and give a treat at the top and bottom of the stairs. I started off by standing behind her butt and gently pushing on it while lifting front paw/front paw then back paw/back paw allll the way up 14 stairs. She trembled the entire way. Bending her leg in order to put her paw on the next step wasn't easy, but it had to be done. On the way down I was one step below her on her right side and gently pulled on the leash/collar. If she got stuck -- forgetting what to do next -- I would put one paw on the next step down.

 

I did this 4 times, one after the other, with each time being just a little bit better. On the 5th try, she took off by herself and that was that.

 

I think I was lucky in that it was only about 15 minutes worth of work, if that, but if it had taken an hour of up and down, I would have done it because I do not sleep on my couch when it's bed time.

 

So my suggestion is go at it. Have resolve in your body language and your tone of voice and do not give up. All Greyhounds can learn to do the stairs but mom and dad have to be firm about it.

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Guest Scouts_mom

As long as he is being carried up, why should he learn to do stairs? He has his own personal elevator! Be firm about not doing it any more before your husband's back gives out. If he whines to go upstairs, give him a training session on stairs. He will learn very quickly.

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The push/pull/drag approach was too much for me and Lila so I let her gain confidence on some really easy stairs and worked up to more intimidating ones. I took her to a local college and practiced going up and down the couple steps into buildings, then some longer staircases of big, wide, solid steps. All of those were easy for her and once she figured out that her legs really could do that, she was OK on steeper, narrower stairs. It doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Good luck!

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Firstly, both my boys do stairs differently. Ryder is very careful to take them one at a time - which I find is trainable. Kasey on the other hand, oy, he JUMPS a flight in 3 bounds - which I find isn't teachable, he just found that was the best way for him to do stairs. :riphair Your pup will figure out what method suits him best, but first...the carrying up and down the flights has to stop. It sounds like you are doing all the right things....but he's gotta conquer his fear. He might be a bounder and not an individual stair climber as well. You'll know if he stands at the base of the stairs and puts both front feet up 3 stairs high but is hesitant to go. If he's alternating front feet on the bottom stair or two, then he's likely thinking of individually climbing them.

 

Start with him at the base of the stairs first (easier going up than down I think for the first try, and if all the fun is upstairs it encourages him to get up there! - so ok one more carry if need be....) Turn ALL of your lights on....make the area fully bright for him to see and get some super high value reward treats ready. Get a big cheering squad at the top of the stairs.....someone to squeak a toy to encourage, or if he's big into food, some stuff at the top as a goal.

 

To teach Ryder I stood behind him, in case he fell or to prevent him getting the idea that turning around is not an option. Put your legs behind his butt so he's got some encouragement and something steady to lean against. Lean down and put one front paw up REWARD and then the alternate back paw up REWARD. The back paw will force the weight to be distributed causing him to move forward. You can only go so far with placing the front feet. Try to not let him lean against you but be close so he can if he slips. Next try the other front paw REWARD and alternate back paw REWARD. He went through one cycle and is likely in the middle of the stairs now and has no choice but to keep doing this. He may just naturally keep going, but return to help him with the first front paw etc. This is a good place to be for his mind to start contemplating. Sounds like he might shake and panic but be firm.

 

If he statues and shakes, you are there for him to lean his butt against. But you just stay there and let him figure it out, do not let him turn around......he's got to move forward and he will when he's ready, he's been given no other options. You might stand on the stairs with him leaning his butt against you for 5 minutes....then so be it. Put a piece of chicken on a stair just out of his reach....that he'll have to move forward to get it. He just might need to figure it all out in his brain when he's in the middle of the stairs.......when he reaches the top (and he will) BIG TIME REWARD.....give him a break and then teach him how to go down.

 

Once I taught Ryder, he never stopped doing the stairs....unnecessarily. Careful what you teach! lol Good luck!

 

Repeat.

Proudly owned by:
10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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Stairs were a challenge for Phoebe, too, and we had to teach her since her foster home didn't (she had had a broken leg, and they weren't supposed to). She's a big girl, so it was rather difficult, and as food-motivated as she is, she was scared to death of the steps. We found it helped to have two people--one right behind her, as mentioned above, moving each foot in turn; the other person in front of her, encouraging, luring with a treat, also preventing her from leaping them in a single bound, etc. She eventually got it--I think it took a few days of 'practice'--but once that light bulb goes off , they've got it. You just have to be persistent. It's hard 'moving' a very stiff, very heavy greyhound UP the steps, but you've just got to do it. Keep at it, and he'll have that 'aha!' moment.

 

Batmom can explain the method a lot better than I do....

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Our new boy won't do the steps to the basement. Shine goes up and down all day, but, he stays at the top and won't move. I am hoping that his desire to be with us down there, will be greater than his fear. He does the five steps out to the yard with no problem. 14 steps down to the basement, seems to be too much for him.

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I do "up" @ the way OwnedBySummer does. I do help some by leaning over and moving feet one at a time, and I stretch up and put a treat a couple steps up so there's a reason!

 

For "down," I like a harness. I get next to the dog and if necessary pick up the front end and put it a step down, etc. until we're all the way there. Treats in my hand instead of on the stairs for "down."

 

Sometimes you have to do it a bunch before they catch on, but I haven't had one fail yet.

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 Houston1219

Someone here on gtalk recommended walking close behind with a variation of the thighs technique. It sounded rather rude but worked lol. Walking closely behind with one knee essentially in their butt (between the legs). sounds ridiculous but it worked. As you slowly walk up one step at a time, you are hoisting their butt up one step at a time as well. It really worked! Eventually they get tired of a knee in their butt and get to doing it alone :)

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"A few times"?

 

Took me WEEKS of putting one paw in front of the other and literally pushing George up the stairs (three flights of metal stairs he HAD to be able to do in an emergency).

 

Buck? Pranced up stairs like he's been doing them his whole life!

 

I agree with the others--no more carrying him. One of you stands in front with a leash on him and a tasty treat, the other stands DIRECTLY behind him (as in touching him) and you basically force him up.

 

It may seem mean, but seriously, it's not, and carrying 70 pounds up and down the stairs could really be dangerous for them both!

 

Good luck!


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

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

I also use the no-nonsense method:

 

to go down:

1) hold the hounds collar through the loop like a suitcase.

2) walk to the top of the stairs, once you are close hold the hound's head against your waist

3) walk slowly and steadily down the stairs, keeping the hound's head at your waist and therefore controlling the hounds movement

you do not want the hound to rush down the stairs or get wobbly on the way down. Keep the pace slow but steady so the hound cannot stop

4) do not let go of the collar until you are at the bottom of the stairs, if you let go of the collar too soon, they will usually try to jump the last 3-4 stairs, you dont want that.

realize that nearly every single hound will buck, scream, whine and basically throw a temper-tantrum at the top of the steps doing everything they can to not go over the scary edge of the steps, dont relent, pull them over the top of the stairs, believe me, it wont hurt them. You dont YANK or PULL, you simply tuck their head to your waist and steadily go down the stairs. Be gentle but firm. Do this a few times and the hound will realize that it has no choice and the balking will stop.

 

to go up:

same as others, put your chest to their butt, one leg in front of the other while pushing with your chest to encourage the hound to climb. Be sure to not allow the hound to turn on the stairs to try to get down.

 

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

 

FYI, there is no reason a broken leg hound cant do stairs. I have fostered broken leg hounds for nearly 10 years and they all learn the stairs the first day they are at my house (this is once they are out of their cast and in the rehab part of recovery). I have 8 open-faced stairs to get from the house to the yard, they dont have a choice. Havent had a single problem or additional injury.

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I also use the no-nonsense method:

 

to go down:

1) hold the hounds collar through the loop like a suitcase.

2) walk to the top of the stairs, once you are close hold the hound's head against your waist

3) walk slowly and steadily down the stairs, keeping the hound's head at your waist and therefore controlling the hounds movement

you do not want the hound to rush down the stairs or get wobbly on the way down. Keep the pace slow but steady so the hound cannot stop

4) do not let go of the collar until you are at the bottom of the stairs, if you let go of the collar too soon, they will usually try to jump the last 3-4 stairs, you dont want that.

realize that nearly every single hound will buck, scream, whine and basically throw a temper-tantrum at the top of the steps doing everything they can to not go over the scary edge of the steps, dont relent, pull them over the top of the stairs, believe me, it wont hurt them. You dont YANK or PULL, you simply tuck their head to your waist and steadily go down the stairs. Be gentle but firm. Do this a few times and the hound will realize that it has no choice and the balking will stop.

Where the head goes the rest will follow! Oh I forgot to mention (since I didn't really explain down very well as both boys had pretty much non issues going that direction), I did have Ryder decide to turn on the first stair. So he put one paw and then two, and then the back paws as he turned his body! I thought, you can't possibly want to go down 13 more steps like that! So keep the head straight as mentioned above and beside your waist so he has guidance. Prevent the turning :)

Proudly owned by:
10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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Guest KsFrets

Magnus (our first grey in this house) wouldn't do stairs for the first month. We had a friend come over with her two greyhounds, who were pros at doing stair zoomies. The excitement of new friends, and them tearing up and down the steps, and Magnus followed them with a little push and then without even thinking about it. He's been a pro ever since. He's taught Maggie and Lisa when they arrived. Could anyone in your group come over with a show and tell hound?

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Guest KEWood

Thanks to you all!! SOO helpful. And yes, we do definitely need to stop the carrying. We do not have a harness, but have planned on getting one - seems like it could be very helpful here. We are going to try all of the suggestions mentioned here, and I will report back! This weekend = staircase bootcamp!!!

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Lots of great advice, as usual. Also, is chicken the highest reward treat for him, or is there something that would provide better motivation? I've always had good luck with shredded cheese--seems to get them to slow down so they don't realize they've actually gone up the steps part way and freak out.

Beth, Petey (8 September 2018- ), and Faith (22 March 2019). Godspeed Patrick (28 April 1999 - 5 August 2012), Murphy (23 June 2004 - 27 July 2013), Leo (1 May 2009 - 27 January 2020), and Henry (10 August 2010 - 7 August 2020), you were loved more than you can know.

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Guest KEWood

Update: We went up and down yesterday, with lots of help (read "pushing") and treats along the way. Then at bedtime, i made him go up on his own, and he did the first 3 stairs without hesitation, the rest was moving his feet and gently pushing from behind. The freakout set in about halfway up, and he statued. Coming down yesterday was terrifying for him. Stiff, scared, hated every step. We'll try to conquer "up" first :)

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Hey, you are making progress and that's AWESOME!

 

We too are going through stair training with our newest. We did @ 8 times yesterday, down and up both. Now she is still reluctant but willing to go down (with me next to her and a very firm hand on the harness; she's not too stable at it yet). Just now, she too got @ halfway up on her own (me half next to / half behind her for stability) and then stalled out :lol .

 

I should say, she is a @ 60-65 lb girl so much easier to help and control than a bigger boy would be. Thus we are able to do more practicing before my muscles are totally done for the day. I have had some that were heavy and/or scared enough that @ 3 times a day was all we could manage.

 

Most all mine have seemed to arrive at a magical point where they're no longer terrified and are willing but don't know quite what to do with their feet. Things are much much easier, especially with the big heavy pups, once you get to that point.

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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Great job so far! We had a lot of difficulty getting our guy to learn stairs. Friends of ours had some really stinky treats, and in less than 15 minutes, they got him to go all the way up the stairs (wooden with carpet stair treads). Naturally, they didn't teach him to go down! So, he would run up the stairs and get stuck up there, poking his head around the corner with a 'please save me' look down at us. My now-husband did have to carry him for more than a week, gradually setting him down further and further from the bottom to make him go down with us holding him by the collar and close to the wall. After a few weeks, he was a pro at the stairs, though he still bounds up them with as much grace as could be described as 'rolling up stairs'. Lots of really great advice in this thread - keep up the good work!

 

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Guest Houston1219

Update: We went up and down yesterday, with lots of help (read "pushing") and treats along the way. Then at bedtime, i made him go up on his own, and he did the first 3 stairs without hesitation, the rest was moving his feet and gently pushing from behind. The freakout set in about halfway up, and he statued. Coming down yesterday was terrifying for him. Stiff, scared, hated every step. We'll try to conquer "up" first :)

 

If coming down is scary, could you have someone help while you walk backwards close in front of him, blocking the scary view down? :dunno Just a thought...

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Guest Scouts_mom

To help him practice you might want to look around your neighborhood and find some easier stairs (not as many steps and not as steep). Check out your local parks and your neighbor's homes. I use a neighbor's home that has five steps up to their front yard (I asked them first--strangest request they have ever received). All my hounds have found those steps to be very easy and once they are conquered, they feel better about real staircases.

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Oh. I also forgot. Do your stairs have backing or can you see through them? This just occurred to me. Years ago with Kasey.....if he could see through the stairs to the other side....like basement steps or outdoor steps....forget it, he was not going up them. Maybe that's part of the issue, but if they are closed then...just....as you were!

Proudly owned by:
10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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