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How To Get Them To Come Upstairs?

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My husband and I recently moved cross country from Portland OR to Pittsburgh PA with our two older greyhounds, Lea, 12 and Elliott, 11. They have had to adapt to a lot of changes over the last few months - flying cross country, living with me in the daylight basement at my aunt and uncle's home outside of Washington DC for over 2 months while we house hunted and waited for our closing date. Most of that time my husband was in Portland preparing for our move. They accompanied us on several long drives back and forth from DC to Pittsburgh (4 1/2 hours each way), then finally we moved into our new house the day after Christmas, and spent three days in our new place without a stick of furniture due to a delay in our stuff being delivered by the mover. This has all been hard on them, but they've been great troopers.


Our new home has stairs. The first level is the living room, dining room and kitchen and the bedrooms are all upstairs. The places we lived in previously only had basements and a main floor, so the dogs never learned to navigate stairs, since there was no need for them to go in the basement. We didn't think the stairs here would be a big deal because there are three landings with only 3 steps to the first, 8 to the second and 4 to the top and they are not extremely steep or narrow like our previous basement stairs, and they are carpeted.


On the first day in our new place we were able to get Elliott to come upstairs, but we had no furniture, and I think it freaked him out. He refused to come back down the stairs and my husband had to carry him down. The dogs have always slept in our room with us, but we've been in our house for almost two weeks now, and neither of them have tried the stairs since. I have encouraged them to come up and have offered treats, but haven't tried too hard because we've been busy unpacking.


After this weekend we'll be pretty much all moved in, and I'd like to focus more on getting them to come upstairs. I would really appreciate any helpful hints or success stories if you've been in a similar situation.

Theresa (Tess)

Mom to Elliott (Sol Flasher) and Lea (PTL Lea)

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I used a harness and super treaties. I grabbed the harness and helped them up and down the stairs while I showed the treaties with my other hand. With the harness they feel more secure than with just a collar.


Start working with one of them. It often helps the other dog when someone walks in front of them who knows what to do. I used a whole day walking up and down the stairs, in short training sessions.


In the end Andy and Paddy do the stairs on a daily basis, Paddy even follows me down into the cellar and up into the attic. Colin decided to stay downstairs. He can do the stairs but he doesn't like to. He sleeps somewhere downstairs on one of the dog beds, living-room, library or dining-room. Our downstairs is an open space with just two doors and even those are open all the time.

He now lives there and guards the house, completely with barking and growling when something is not as he wants it to be.... ask the hedgehog community in my yard. They come to look inside through the sliding doors and Colin does not like that one bit. They can be on the grass and in the flower beds but absolutely not looking inside through the door and absolutely not at night. 😲

Edited by smurfette

Sorry for butchering the english language. I try to keep the mistakes to a minimum.


Nadine with Paddy (Zippy Mullane), Saoirse (Lizzie Be Nice), Abu (Cillowen Abu) and bridge angels Colin (Dessies Hero) and Andy (Riot Officer).

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They are not young and in this case, maybe it is better if they are not doing the stairs. While you might be able to teach them, they are not going to be as spry as if they were learning when they are 2 or even 8 years old. You didn't mention if they are young for their age or getting a bit arthritic as that would also make a difference.

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Guest MnMDogs

We're in the same boat after a cross country move. We tried to teach them on the carpeted basement stairs and Greg (~7 years maybe) was curious enough (and food motivated enough) to try on his own. He then (after a month) started trying the stairs to the second floor. After a month we woke up to him walking into our room! It just took time for him, and probably realizing the big comfy beds are up there.


Macy is another story. She's very active and spry, but she's also almost 12. She would get so anxious the couple times we tried the teach her the stairs, we started to fear she would hurt herself, Even leashed. She tries to hurdle many at once, and we decided to stop trying since she is perfectly comfortable downstairs. We wish that she would also come up, I miss waking up to her barking in my face and her little morning whines. But we can hear her, and Greg comes up to make sure we get up to take them out.


It kind of sucks not having them up to snuggle before bed but I think it's harder on us! If you can hear them and they're happy on the first floor I wouldn't push ... Especially given their ages as MaryJane mentioned.


Maybe like Greg, their curiosity will overcome them, and they'll decide to go up. :)


As an aside, we also had some huge changes before the move, so I cam fully relate to everything you've been through! I'm so glad you're finally settled, and like you, our dogs have adapted to well, it's amazing.

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Guest Scouts_mom

Hi Tess, So Pittsburgh is where you disappeared to.

Lea and Elliot are both healthy seniors (except for the corn troubles) and there is no reason way they should not be able to handle your short, carpeted stairways. However you have shown them there is an easier alternative--if they look pathetic enough their dad will carry them up! Being smart greyhounds they will take advantage of this. In time this will make the dogs happy, but you will ruin your back!


I don't know if you know anyone there that has a greyhound (who does stairs), but the easiest way to train your dogs is to invite the greyhound over for an afternoon and let him or her show them that stairs are no big thing.


Otherwise, work with the dogs one by one. Put their leashes on, have one of you stand by their front shoulder, with the dog against the wall, and the other person stand behind the dog. Then bend down and move their feet up the stairs to a 1, 2, 3, 4 count (to make sure only one paw is moved at a time), letting them get their balance between moving each paw. Usually going down the stairs doesn't take moving the paws, just leash the dog, stand beside him/her holding the leash near the dog and slowly start down the stairs. After you have done this a few times, they will realize that they can do this if they have enough incentive. Stay upstairs for a while and hopefully they will come up under their own power. Don't give in the whining and crying that they are stuck and going to die if they can't be with you (see above).


The only reason a dog should not do stairs is if they have back trouble or possibly if they are lame. Consider teaching stairs a way to expand Lea and Elliot's horizons!


How are they handling snow?


Ruth (Henry and Bree)

Edited by Scouts_mom
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Two thoughts.


#1 - At some point, all of our seniors have simply self-selected out of doing the stairs in our house up to the bedrooms. It's sad (for us) when they do this, but I figure by then they know what they want and where they are comfortable sleeping. As long as they don't cause trouble when they are down there alone, we just let them choose. Sometimes it's health issues and sometimes they just change their minds, or find the downstairs beds "better."


#2 - You might just give them a bit more time. They've been dealing with a lot of changes in a pretty short amount of time, and you've only just gotten everything settled in the last week or so. Give them time to get used to the new place and new routines. They might decide on their own to give the stairs a try, or find that being alone downstairs isn't a good thing.


#3 - If they are both capable of doing stairs health-wise, a harness and leash will help things a lot. That and super yummy treats. Work with one dog at a time, one human above with the leash and treats ,and one human below the dog to encourage and gently move the dog's feet.

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

52592535884_69debcd9b4.jpgsiggy by Chris Harper, on Flickr

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, Lilly

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If they've never done stairs, I would teach them similar to the way Scouts_mom describes. I try to do it a couple times to several times a day until they aren't fearful, are starting to move those feet on their own, and are confident and steady going down. Lots of praise and rewards.

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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If the stairs are not carpeted, that's kind of a game changer. Are they? If not, you probably really need to consider those little stair runner things. You can get stick on ones. If they're seniors, and unsure, any chance that they slip on hard wood could sour your chances for good (not to mention they could get hurt).


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

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