Small Steps or Big Steps are issues for Kujo

Discussion in 'Obedience Training' started by dj1983, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. dj1983 Guest

    I think Kujo is afride of stairs. I literally have to carry him up or down the stairs to my apartment. Now this won't be a issue for long here in a couple of months I'm moving, but right I live in a apartment and on the second story. It is getting tiring carrying the big boy up and down the stairs. How can I make him walk up and down the stairs? I am at my wits end here. He catchs on so quick to everything else. Ive had him a week, he already walks on a leash (when I got him he was terrified of the leash, he was abused by it), he sits on command, and we are working on the stay command now thanks your website. Please help. He just absolutely refuses to walk the stairs. :confused::confused::confused:

  2. Jean Cote Administrator

    It sounds to me like he might of been abused with the stairs also. :( How many stairs do you have? Do you have a spot in your house where you have 2 or 3 steps? How about the front porch of your house?

    Maybe a school or a local park might have a few steps. The reason I'm asking you to find a few steps, is that you can train your dog to get up and down so much easier with a few steps. You can try putting a treat on the first step, or luring him all the way up and down. But if he is very terrified, you can start by playing a few games with his toys near the steps, and throw the toy near the steps, or even on the first step so that he can get closer, eventually you could throw it to the second step and third. It's all about making a positive association with the steps. And with time, when he does go up or down you give him a huge jackpot of treats, praise and petting! :)

    I would say that you eventually want to stop carrying him to go up and down the stairs, especially since he's going to get bigger. But when you carry him, he doesn't gain any confidence, and he's going to rely on you to carry him every single time, that's not what you want. ;)
  3. l_l_a New Member

    As an owner of a dog that had some fear issues (not due to abuse, he was born with a tendency to fear-aggression as both his parents were fear-aggressive to strangers) I can sympathize!

    The key is what trainers call "desensitization" and "classical counter-conditioning". what this means is:

    Letting the dog determine how close they are willing to go to the scary thing (the stairs) on thier own, and not pushing them further. Associate this distance with all kinds of good things - put the really good treats there, play games there, give belly rubs there. Repeated many times, the dog will come to feel more comfortable at that distance from the scary thing, and will be willing to go a bit closer. So this is the new threshold distance where you now bring out all the good stuff. And so on.

    One way you could do this is to take his most favorite treats and dump them all over the floor at the foot of the stairs, and on the first step. And just leave them there and go about your business, or hang out close by. Sooner or later the dog will show an interest in the treats but be concerned about being near the stairs. Let the dog take his time getting at the treats, don't interfere. Depending on how afraid he is it may take days for him to get comfortable enough to actually eat any of them (you might want to replace or pick up the leftover treats at the end of the day!) But sooner or later, if he is not rushed, and the treats are really good, he will be willing to go nearer and then eventually go on the first step. And then on the second step and so on.

    The key is to not rush things, don't coddle or soothe the dog, just act nonchalant about the whole thing and let him set the pace. There's no way to tell how much time this will take, each dog is different. Some dogs get over their fears in a few sessions, others take months. This is not to be discouraging, just realistic. But rushing things at any stage will put things back to square zero. So if you really need him to be upstairs before he is willing to climb it himself, I would continue to carry him for now, so as to not perpetuate his fear, and then separately work on desensitizing and conditioning him to accept going on the stairs by himselff at his own pace.

    Also, are the stairs carpeted? I know many dogs are afraid of uncarpeted stairs because they are slippery and the dog feels unsure about their footing....My dog absolutely will not go up stairs that are open-ended or have holes in the steps (the kind where you can see through them to the ground below). I have not encountered these types of stairs in public places that I take my dog to, often enough to work with him on that issue, we just take the elevator instead! but closed stairs and carpeted stairs he has no problem with. good luck with this!!
  4. Jean Cote Administrator

    Very good response ||a!

    It is kind of what I was thinking except you put it in much better words than I! :) I also love your idea of putting a bunch of treats and leaving it there!
  5. dj1983 Guest

    The stairs are open on the back, and are two flights. So I understand how he can be a bit scared. I'm going to give your ideas a shot!!! Thank you for the response, and I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out!!!!!!!!! Thank you Jean and || a, you have helped a lot. I appreicate it.
  6. l_l_a New Member

    yeah the dreaded open stairs!!

    I forgot to mention earlier, my parents have open stairs in their backyard leading up to their deck, but at least the steps themselves are solid wood, and it took a couple of sessions for my dog to be OK with that. But another time when we were downtown the stairs were not only open-ended, the actual steps themselves were not solid but metal grating so you could see right through them to the ground 12 feet below, that totally freaked my dog out so we took the elevator!

    one more suggestion that you can try, I didn't have time to write it out yesterday:

    Have really really good food with you and sit on the second step and entice him to you so he has to come up the first step to get to you and then give him the really good food. repeat until he's comfortable doing that, then sit slightly higher up the flight like on the second or third step and repeat. This way he can see you ahead of him sitting on the stairs so he may feel more like he's coming to you rather than venturing on his own into a scary place and so he might get comfortable quicker. Then as he gets comfortable with one step, then two, you can gradually scoot yourself up higher on the flight of stairs so he has to climb two, then three, then four steps before he reaches you and so on. Again go at his pace, don't rush him. If really wants to come to you but is still anxious, just go back a step or two and make it easier until he is comfortable, and stay there for a few sessions before raising the challenge again.

    (in between sessions, carry him up the stairs as you have been so he doesn't regress back into his old fear after the making progress in the session). good luck!!!
  7. harry New Member

    LOl: If you dog is afraid of the stairs and irritate you while climbing the stairs then try to use the accelerator and if it don't even work than lease him a home on the ground floor

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