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Learning To Go Down Stairs


Guest Literaqueen
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Guest Literaqueen

I've read lots of great ideas for teaching greys to go up stairs. However, my Fly girl needs to learn down first. Tornado season's upon us, and sooner or later I have to be able to get her into the basement. About ten steps, carpeted, narrow and steep. A friend and I tried today; it didn't go well. Harness and leash, happy voices, lots of high value treats. . . and as soon as we got to the top of the stairs she locked her legs and statued. Couldn't move her. Friend sat at the bottom of the stairs, where the lights were all lit, cats ran up and down the stairs periodically, I sat on the next to top step petting her and coaxing. She'd calm down, we'd try again, and she'd statue again. Our next step is to bring another grey over to show her that it's not scary to go down. Any other ideas? She is pretty small- 60 pounds or so- but I can't lift her and navigate the stairs at the same time. When she statues, she's really strong and I can't budge her.

 

I suppose last resort is to leave her in her kennel during tornado warnings, but that option makes me heartsick.

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Short leash. Stand alongside the dog, bend over dog, one hand in front of the dog's chest, one hand underneath the dog, pick up front end of dog, place down a step or two, wait for back end to follow. Repeat repeat until you're all the way down. Lots of "Good dog!" and treats along the way.

 

If you have a padded harness such as a Ruffwear Webmaster, you can kinda treat the dog like a suitcase and slooooooooooowly take the dog down by your side.

 

Can take some practice, and some fortitude if the dog is frightened. All mine learn, and they generally start first or second day home.

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 am the friend. This was the most intense, terrified statuing I have dealt with. Fly locked her legs and wouldn't let me even bend a joint to lift one foot, and had her butt all the way to the ground as we tried to move her forward -- just skidding on the floor. It seemed impossible to even get her front legs down one step without lifting her entirely off the ground. She sat back as we tried to move her to the edge.

 

Going to try bringing Beth over to show her how it's done. Neither of us feel good at picking up greyhounds, especially ones who are freaking out.

Edited by PrairieProf

With Cocoa (DC Chocolatedrop), missing B for Beth (2006-2015)
And kitties C.J., Klara, Bernadette, John-Boy, & Sinbad

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Any shorter flights you can practice on? Some folks find it useful to have an extra person a step or two in front of the dog, to block their view of the abyss a little bit.

 

 

 

FWIW, my angel Zema was terrified too. At that time, for whatever reason, I had no patience. I picked her terrified self up and placed her on the stairs so all 4 feet were on the stairs (back feet no longer on the landing). And then down we went (I held on tight) .... Dunno that I'd recommend that for all or even most terrified dogs, but it sure did work for her.

 

 

ETA: Coco was pretty frightened, too. Not just of the stairs but of us! Ruffwear Webmaster harness saved the day. Treated Coco like a suitcase; didn't matter if she statued or tried to escape. Sounds mean but I was really just ... more immovable than she was :lol .

Edited by Batmom

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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Odin refused to do the stairs to our basement, which is where our family room, sewing room, game room, etc. are located. He would do one step, back up the truck, and that was it. So began 3 steps, then six, but, again the back up.

 

Years back a friend said about our grey, Brandy, at the time, when her desire to be with you is greater than her fear of the steps, she will do them. And, Brandy did and just about a week ago, Odin did the same. We were all downstairs including Shine, and Odin came very gingerly down the stairs. And, then he kept running up and down all day; he was so proud of himself. We couldn't stop him!

 

That being said, after we moved to this house, Paul, who was then 11 years old, refused to do the steps. There are 13 steps to the basement, they are well lit and carpeted.

Irene Ullmann w/Flying Odin in Lower Delaware
Angels Brandy, John E, American Idol, Paul, Fuzzy and Shine
Handcrafted Greyhound and Custom Clocks http://www.houndtime.com
Zoom Doggies-Racing Coats for Racing Greyhounds

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Have another grey there is a good start. Plan to spend some time working on the stairs. Find a higher value treat and lead with that. Maybe even hang out at the bottom and read a magazine, show her it isn't a big deal and while you know this is a critical skill for her, I think you are going to require a lot of patience.

Walter & I practiced a lot and Walter taught Ernie nearly a year ago. They spent some time at the bottom of the stairs with me at the top just sitting there, then I got bored and made lunch and Walter went up first, then Ernie followed. Same thing when Ernie was figuring out how to go down. Once he figured it out, he used to practice going up and down the stairs. It was so stinkin cute.

7218108076_e406044464_t.jpg 7004700518_27fa752995_t.jpg Walter (Windy Walker) and Ernie (PG Ernest) @WalterWallerson and IG: WalterandErnie 7150803233_d0700ccbdc_t.jpg 7004711314_ceba54665a_t.jpg

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Guest Literaqueen

Suggestions if I need to speed this process up? As in if we have a tornado warning before she's learned to go down? I don't see me safely carrying her downstairs as sirens go off.

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Ruffwear Webmaster harness. It'll set you back $50-$60 but it's the best for manipulating a reluctant dog. If the dog isn't frightened but just needs a little support, regular harness such as a Premier Surefit works fine.

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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P.S. Here stairs are non-negotiable unless the dog is ill or injured. I have put a kennel muzzle on a frightened dog when learning, but otherwise ... we're going to do them, and we're going to start now, frightened or not. That is where the harness helps. It can be hard to get and keep a good hold of a frightened dog.

 

If someone you know has a house with the stairs split into half flights of @ 7-8 stairs, that would probably be a great place to start teaching. If the dog is resisting, it takes some human muscle and endurance to go down and up a couple times.

 

I don't like to let the dog learn on their own because they are apt to do dumb things like rush, jump, etc. For safety I want them to learn to do it right, one foot at a time.

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 have a single short flight of seven stairs in my house, but at least last year we couldn't get Fly up the four front steps to my scary porch. She is more confident in most ways so maybe this year, but at least at her home we don't have to deal with the scariness of a new place. She does do outdoor steps without an issue!

With Cocoa (DC Chocolatedrop), missing B for Beth (2006-2015)
And kitties C.J., Klara, Bernadette, John-Boy, & Sinbad

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I would try teaching UP first.

 

My George was the WORST at stairs. OMG. I spent three weeks moving one paw at a time up the stairs (I was preparing, as you are, for the inevitable when our elevators went out and we had to leave the building via the emergency stairs, which were metal, painted a shiny black, and in an enclosed stairwell). Three flights. It was incredibly painful for my back. I tried everything. A helper. I smeared liverwurst on the stairs. NOTHING helped. So I just kept moving his paws, one at a time, step by step.

 

Then the day came I thought, "He has to go down now." I braced myself for the worst day ever. And to my surprise he pranced down three flights of stairs like a debutante descending a staircase at her coming out ball! Not even a pause! I was stunned! And relieved.

 

So....if you can get her to go UP, she will learn that stairs are not a big deal, and in an emergency, she's likely go down!


Hamish-siggy1.jpg

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

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Guest ParamagicFF

Our Amber had no choice but to learn stairs as well. We have about 8 or so steps to the front door, and 10 or so leading upstairs to where we sleep. She was very hesitant initially, especially inside where the uncoated wood made her paws slip if she didn't keep good posture. For the first two days we moved each paw individually to show her what to do each time. She was resistant, but we provided verbal encouragement and a few treats. What really helped Amber gain the confidence after she learned the movement was the desire to be with us. We started leaving her downstairs when we went up and eventually she started coming up after us. I think down was definitely scarier for her because the steps tend to seem more slippery that way, so we make sure we're always with her going down.

 

We also ordered a set of powerpaws socks for her to wear inside which have been excellent. No slippage at all on the steps when she wears them and she seems to feel more confident. Good luck!

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So I thought I'd do an update for Literaqueen. We tried again today, with my hound Beth and another friend who despite her small size is impressively adept at carrying greyhounds on stairs. Beth did the basement stairs beautifully both on leash and off leash, though Fly was almost afraid to watch her, but you could see Fly interested in Beth being down in the basement. Then our friend carried Fly to the bottom of the stairs and she got to see how nice and fun the basement was (and got chicken!). Then Literaqueen and our friend arduously moved Fly up the staircase (again, carpeted and well-lit but pretty long and steep),having to move each of her rigid legs one by one until she jumped up the last few at the top. After that we tried again, only our friend carried her only part way down and she had to walk down the rest (humans moving her legs). Then more chicken and up again, still with us moving her legs but she seemed a little closer to moving them on her own.

 

So there's a lot more work to do, but we both think she'll get there with more practice. When she first came home she was terrified to get in a Volkswagen Bug, and now she jumps into an SUV without a problem. It's just inconvenient that, like me, Literaqueen lives alone, so people have to come over to practice -- definitely takes two for now.

Edited by PrairieProf

With Cocoa (DC Chocolatedrop), missing B for Beth (2006-2015)
And kitties C.J., Klara, Bernadette, John-Boy, & Sinbad

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Sounds like you have made some great progress! Yes, much easier with someone to 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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I don't like to let the dog learn on their own because they are apt to do dumb things like rush, jump, etc. For safety I want them to learn to do it right, one foot at a time.

 

Thanks for bringing this up. Kali was slow to learn stairs (both directions--she came to us straight from the track as a foster) and I'm afraid we didn't give her good training about how to properly go down stairs. She tends to leap from the fourth or fifth step, especially because she LOVES going to the basement where it's cooler and her favorite bed is waiting for her. I'm worried one of these days she'll break a leg when she hits the bottom, so I think I'll start walking down with her more carefully so she'll (hopefully) learn to apply the brakes.

 

Sorry to derail! I will say that having a friend (Brooks) show her the ropes is what helped Kali get over the hump wrt stairs. Especially when there is food waiting at the other end, she can no longer stand being left out! Same is true for jumping into the back of the Jeep, sphinxing for treats, etc.

Drew and occasionally DW Melody, with Rosie (AMF Ready Made) and Marvin (Bella Riddick) in Louisville. Forever missing Brooks (KC Bastone) and Kali (Swish).

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Guest Literaqueen

Another update: today we tried again, prepared to slowly move each paw down each step. Fly balked when she saw we were headed for the stairs, but with a bit of nudging she stepped over the edge and started down, very, very slowly. A bit of paw placing at first, but she basically got it. We had a huge treat party in the basement and snuggled on the futon for a little while. Up went better, although she froze halfway up and seemed to not remember what to do. A little coaxing and she did it. Hurray! Tomorrow we'll see if she really remembers. . .

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Congratulations!!!

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! We had a tough time teaching our guy to do the stairs, particularly down and had to teach him in increments. Marvin did the same thing as others have mentioned with just going up and down on their own right after they learn 'for fun'! Without two of us, it would have been even more challenging. Signs we turned into suckers for about a week after friends taught him to go up, but not down (see photo)....

 

MarvinLearnsStairs_zpshrp7ygys.jpg

 

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