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Those Scary Things Called Stairs

Author: Lindsay Rapp | Date: April 2, 2012

Stairs are something that us humans never think twice about. They are just another pathway from one destination to another, but our dogs look at them very differently!

Stairs come in many different forms. There are wood stairs, carpet stairs, stairs with no back, steep stairs, shallow stairs, narrow stairs…. and the list goes on.

Your dogs might be fine on some stairs and not others, so it’s important to be aware of your dog’s reactions when they encounter new ones.

For example, I have wood stairs in my house. When I first moved in, my dogs hated them… they would slip and slide on them and they could never get good footing, so I had a carpet runner installed. Now my dogs have no problem! They love the stairs so much they have become part of their “zoomies” route.

But we encountered new stairs when AnimalSense moved into the new office in Old Town. These stairs are the scary ones with no back… so the first few times my dogs came to work with me they were very weary of going up and down them. I had to change their thought process about the stairs. So I brought out some treats and made a little “treat trail” going up and down the stairs. I didn’t want to make them do anything they didn’t feel comfortable doing, so they went at their own pace. Some caught on very quick, others it took a while to trust that they were going to be okay. Giving them the “treat trail” changed how they looked at the stairs from something scary to something fun because they got rewarded by using them.

Every dog is different and all stairs are different. Remember to be aware of your dog’s reactions to new stairs. If they seem fearful at all try using my trick of the “treat trail” and do not push them to do something they don’t want to.

Baby steps are what some dogs need.

If you have a new puppy, I would recommend doing this to all stairs to begin with and expose them to as many different types as you can.

Also, keep in mind that going down stairs is much scarier then going up. So, please be patience with your pups!



I honestly thought my dog was just bad. With training, Cookie is now a different dog!

Christina W. | View Client Testimonials


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