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Training On The Stairs Really Isn't Going Well


Guest melonmagellangn
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Guest melonmagellangn

I listed a few quick data points about Phil below, then I'll get to my issue:

 

  • 4 year old off the track male greyhound, about 65-70lbs
  • He's been living in my home for over 2 weeks
  • A medium confident dog at best... jumpy/anxious around any noise, can't walk on the hardwood floors yet (scrambles and panics), some separation anxiety, bad crate anxiety
  • Now for the good things about him... calm/tolerant personality, fabulous on the leash, quiet and well mannered when not stressed, eager to please and wants to learn
  • Phil is my only pet currently
  • He wasn't fostered for very long, under a week and is very startled by my busy apartment complex (he has to ride in the elevator, people and cars always around, etc.)
  • Tendency to 'statue' when stressed out
  • Medium to low activity level getting 3-4 walks per day

Here is if you want to see him :) - http://imgur.com/fNZZdwc

 

I live in an apartment complex and it would reduce the time it takes to walk Phil by 10-20 mins each walk if we didn't have to walk super far to use the elevator. Due to that fact, it's a top priority for me to get him to use the stairs.

 

The stairs in question are 3 flights in an enclosed stairwell. They are concrete and do not have open backs.

 

Phil is approximately 0% interested in even trying to climb them. I used the trick several times now of standing behind him to support his weight , holding the railing and moving his feet for him. He hates this process, does not participate and we are not making much progress. Now he statues and balk when I even try to walk him into the stairwell.

 

I'm getting somewhat frustrated and don't really know how to proceed. He just doesn't want to climb the stairs, at all, and totally ignores any treats during this process because he is so stressed.

 

As a side note, I only have him do one flight of stairs when we're practicing (not the entire three) then we go to the elevator. I also live alone and don't have anyone to help me.

 

I almost feel like quitting, giving him two weeks to settle in, and the resume training on the stairs. I don't want to form negative associations but I also don't want it to go too long. This makes my daily routine way longer/harder on me.

 

Thoughts/help?

Edited by melonmagellangn
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Guest Wally

Had my girl a week. Would touch steps or stairs. Visited a friend with a whippet /stag x and a rear deck onto large yard.Shirley(my greyhound) and Hidee took off chasing one another. After about 3 minutes a mirical occurred.Hides flew up one set of stairs ,down a ramp, around to more stairs with the 2nd lap Shirley was in awkward pursuit. 3rd lap Shirley was gaining and back lawn was being plowed. Since then my beautiful will "come behind" where ever I go. If it happens in fun and love they respond. Anxiety is transfered to dogs thru the ether.

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Have you tried a harness and treats? If you don't have a harness and don't want to buy one, you can 'make' one out of the leash. Wrap the leash around his body then thread the end under the part that comes from the collar... Hard to explain but it's basically a Thunder Leash that you make on your own. Then you can grip the 'harness' and help lift his front end up the stairs and it can help him get the idea. Reward with treats (cheese, hot dog, lunch meat...) frequently to start with, and especially any time he moves a foot up the stairs on his own!

Mom of bridge babies Regis and Dusty.

Wrote a book about shelter dogs!

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Guest Scouts_mom

You are right to reduce the number of flights that he has to tackle while he is learning. I would reduce the number of steps even more. Look around your neighborhood and find someplace with only 3 or 4 steps. I've used steps at a local park and steps up to a neighbor's house (I'm sure they thought I was crazy when I knocked on the door and asked if I could use their steps). Once he has figured out how to move his feet and conquered those steps, you can move on to a flight of stairs.

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I second all of the ideas above. Find a place with only 3-4 steps (don't let him jump all those steps!) and using a harness as a suitcase works well. We taught Jack after 1 month (he really didn't needed to do stairs at our house, we thought him just for good measure) and it took 3 days of twice daily going up and down the stairs once. After each session I threw plenty of treats on the floor and we had a party!

He will balk, just be confident in yourself and him, he can do it :) Also if you have a friend with a dog, he could learn from the other dog!

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Cynthia, with Charlie (Britishlionheart) & Zorro el Galgo
Captain Jack (Check my Spots), my first love

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Welcome to GreyTalk! :) Congratulations on your handsome new boy, Phil!

 

Please ask your adoption group to arrange a stair training session (or 2) with a stair experienced Greyhound + experienced humans, so Phil can watch the Greyhound climbing/descending stairs first. If available, carpeted steps may help initially. One person can lift his legs one at a time while the other supports his body. If that can't be arranged soon enough, you might try practicing alone with him on fewer and deeper stairs elsewhere, but if he's feeling stress overload, he may shut down to learning that day.

 

If not already doing so, please place rubber-backed bath mats, or cheap runner rugs with rubber rug gripper mats underneath on your hardwood floors wherever Phil is expected to walk and eat meals. Many Greyhounds have had scary and dangerous falls on hard surface floors. It can take them a long time to recover emotionally and physically.

 

Good luck. Please let us know how it goes.

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Lord have mercy does this give me flashbacks!!

 

As far as your hardwood floors, please give him a break and get rugs.

 

Now, the stairs! My George was stubborn to the bone. I also had three flights, enclosed, but they were black metal. I knew he HAD TO be able to go up and down because we had constant fake fire alarms and of course no elevators during a fire alarm.

 

I spent WEEKS working on it. Tried everything. The only thing that worked was manually moving each paw onto each step. Finally, one day, he tried to billy goat jump an entire flight. He fell, of course, and his skin split open. Back to square one. My back hurt so much I could barely stand. One day, I decided to go about it from the TOP instead of the bottom. Bracing myself for the worst, I took three Advil, and headed for the stairs. That damn dog pranced down all three flights like a debutante at her coming out ball! Didn't even pause!

 

From then on they were not much of a problem.

 

When we moved to a new place, with no elevator, and three flights of carpeted stairs, I was "Oh no, not again," but he just followed the moving men up no problem!

 

Long story short--don't give up. He CAN do it, and eventually he WILL do it. Cause like I always say, if GEORGE could learn it, any dog can.

Edited by GeorgeofNE


Hamish-siggy1.jpg

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

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Sometimes it just takes TIME. 2 weeks is not that long really imo. Just make sure he always and only has positive associations with the stairs -he will come around! Stop and think how his whole universe has changed in only 2 weeks. Wow! Talk about culture shock- its like he has been dropped onto a different planet. Take your time with him. Focus FIRST on developing a relationship with him and letting him acclimate to his new world where almost everything is new and unknown and never seen before. It takes time for anybody to adjust to so much change so quick. I love his picture. He looks like a wonderful guy! You are in for the most rewarding experience of your life-no need to rush it. Be patient with him and he will blossum into more than you can imagine. I have seen it take as long as a year for a hound to get it together when joining his forever home- but the rewards are priceless and they are like 2 different dogs when compared to how they were when they first arrived. JMO. PS- If you feed him in his crate and make sure there is a treat in it everytime you put him in it may help him to get over his crate anxiety you mentioned.

Lord have mercy does this give me flashbacks!!

 

As far as your hardwood floors, please give him a break and get rugs.

 

Now, the stairs! My George was stubborn to the bone. I also had three flights, enclosed, but they were black metal. I knew he HAD TO be able to go up and down because we had constant fake fire alarms and of course no elevators during a fire alarm.

 

I spent WEEKS working on it. Tried everything. The only thing that worked was manually moving each paw onto each step. Finally, one day, he tried to billy goat jump an entire flight. He fell, of course, and his skin split open. Back to square one. My back hurt so much I could barely stand. One day, I decided to go about it from the TOP instead of the bottom. Bracing myself for the worst, I took three Advil, and headed for the stairs. That damn dog pranced down all three flights like a debutante and her coming out ball! Didn't even pause!

 

From then on they were not much of a problem.

 

When we moved to a new place, with no elevator, and three flights of carpeted stairs, I was "Oh no, not again," but he just followed the moving men up no problem!

 

Long story short--don't give up. He CAN do it, and eventually he WILL do it. Cause like I always say, if GEORGE could learn it, any dog can.

George was very special in many ways. I miss his adventures and will love him always. :)

Edited by racindog
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Guest melonmagellangn

Welcome to GreyTalk! :) Congratulations on your handsome new boy, Phil!

 

Please ask your adoption group to arrange a stair training session (or 2) with a stair experienced Greyhound + experienced humans, so Phil can watch the Greyhound climbing/descending stairs first. If available, carpeted steps may help initially. One person can lift his legs one at a time while the other supports his body. If that can't be arranged soon enough, you might try practicing alone with him on fewer and deeper stairs elsewhere, but if he's feeling stress overload, he may shut down to learning that day.

 

If not already doing so, please place rubber-backed bath mats, or cheap runner rugs with rubber rug gripper mats underneath on your hardwood floors wherever Phil is expected to walk and eat meals. Many Greyhounds have had scary and dangerous falls on hard surface floors. It can take them a long time to recover emotionally and physically.

 

Good luck. Please let us know how it goes.

 

I bought a bunch of cheap $5 runner rugs at Walmart. He's using those until he learns... he currently uses a "don't touch the lava" approach with the hardwood.

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Just a note about my experience about stairs and floors.

When we first moved into the house the floors were hardwood and ceramic and my boy did fall when I was not there. He was only about 5 years old at the time but he did hurt himself and it came back to haunt him later with his back issues (he had a collision racing at the track and had a back injury). He did walk very carefully on floors of a similar type. We did put carpeting down for him to prevent any future falls. Doing the splits can really do damage to these guys.

We are now in an apartment and have had our new greyhound for a few months. I feel it is important that she learns the stairs in case of a black out and being the only way to get out of here. They do find these concrete stairs very difficult, especially when they look down it is very hard for them to see how to navigate and just back away. I have taken her on steps in parks and other peoples homes which she finds easy enough and then tried bringing her up the apartment stairs with me in front which seemed to work and managed to get up 3 flights but going down is going to be a more difficult challenge.

Phil is beautiful. It does take a while and patience with them to understand everything that is so new to them. I do admire how they do actually handle everything that is so different to them.

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We lived in Manhattan when we first got Bella and also wanted to make sure she could go down those scary, open painted concrete stairs if necessary. We would teach her on short sequences that we'd come across on our walks - every walk, every day. And not letting her just jump on and off. Once she figured how to go down a few, we started with a flight of carpeted stairs. Then one flight of the emergency stairs, then two. Starting with just a few steps is much less scary.

 

Somewhere I had heard that greys don't necessarily have great depth perception - if that's true, then a flight of stairs would definitely be more scary.

Dave (GLS DeviousDavid) - 6/27/18
Gracie (AMF Saying Grace) - 10/21/12
Bella (KT Britta) - 4/29/05 to 2/13/20

 

 

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Guest Amber

In the photo (is that pre or post adoption?) your dog looks really stressed. He has a lot of new things to cope with, he sounds like a high stress dog to me, I would not add more pressure onto him at this moment in time by forcing the stairs, since you do have another option of taking the elevator (albeit inconvenient). He will also feel your frustration and this will make him more stressed and confused. As settling in issues go, not being able to do the stairs is not that bad - could be much worse things!

 

I would leave it for a while (at least 6 weeks) before attempting any more stairs and also be prepared for - even if he does stair training elsewhere, and manages OK - he may still have a problem with those stairs, as dogs don't generalise well.

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She can't "leave it for a while." You have to understand, in an elevator building, any fire alarm, etc. and the elevators shut down. You HAVE to be able to move your dog up/down the stairs.


Hamish-siggy1.jpg

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

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Aww he doesn't look stressed (or not any more stressed than any other greyhound adoption pic I've seen). Pretty sure my boy looked like that when we first saw him at the adoption event. And then he was flat on his side 15 minutes later when he got tired of everyone just standing around.

 

I think having him practice on a few steps somewhere else might help. Maybe somewhere he likes going, like a park or a pet store. Then slowly increase the number of steps until you're getting closer the number of steps you have at your apartment.

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Guest Amber

She can't "leave it for a while." You have to understand, in an elevator building, any fire alarm, etc. and the elevators shut down. You HAVE to be able to move your dog up/down the stairs.

Ok I see. In that case, finding a dog who could manage stairs easily would be the priority when looking for a dog? What will happen when the dog is old or lame and cannot walk?

 

I used to be in a flat with my first greyhound (only 2 small flights of stairs) and he at first couldn't manage the stairs but no elevator so I just had to force the issue by doing the placing with the paws on the treads. Really though adding that sort of pressure straight away isn't helpful and if I knew then what I know now, I would have made sure the grey could do stairs! Also - luckily I got out of that flat into a house b/c my big lad - who I could not carry due to his size - had a lot of lameness episodes where he couldn't walk.

 

I'm not trying to criticise the adopter, as I said, have done the same thing myself, but really the adoption groups should be thinking these things through.

 

Having had two greyhound into geriatric old age, both of whom had mobility problems in the end, I'm maybe more conscious of this problem. I would be really picky about a lot of stairs in any property I moved into now and also things like even a few steps to get into the garden can be a problem if you can't manage to lift them.

 

As for the training - as I mentioned already, practicing steps someplace else will likely not help if he is frightened of the stairs in the condo. My lad got used to my stairs but still balked at other stairs elsewhere.

Edited by Amber
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Stairs are NOT that big a deal. Suggesting adoption groups should only give out dogs who can already do stairs to people who live in buildings with stairs is, uhm, well, perhaps a little much.


Hamish-siggy1.jpg

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

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