There’s a number of reasons why pet owners may find pet stairs and ramps useful. They’re particularly helpful for senior dogs with arthritis, dogs with injuries to their back or limbs, or small pets who simply need help with getting onto beds or into cars. Training your dog to use pet stairs and ramps may prove to be difficult, however.
We know that dogs living in our environment (in our houses and apartments, riding in cars, etc.) are exposed to certain activities that open up the risks of injuries, and increased risk of joint problems. Studies found that constant jumping and climbing may eventually result in joint health issues and arthritis (Gregersen et al. 2004; Cleather et al. 2014).
While the use of pet stairs can be helpful in this matter, by nature canines do not have any experience going up or down the stairs, thus will need to learn how to navigate them properly. If you’ve just bought a set of dog stairs for your pooch, he may be slightly suspicious and wary of their safety. Here’s an infographic on everything you need to know about pet stairs, and how to teach dogs to use them.
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The Purpose of Pet Stairs and Ramps
Using pet ramps or stairs at home can be useful to dog owners in more than one way:
- Reduce the stress on the dog’s legs and hips
- Help to avoid injuries
- Prevent surface scratches and damages
- Assist your dog with arthritis and joint related pain
- Help pets with injuries to get into cars or onto beds easier
- Eliminate the need to lift the dog by yourself
- Help small dogs get onto taller spaces
Design of Pet Stairs and Pet Ramps
There’s a large amount of pet stairs and ramps available for purchase, and it can be confusing which type is best for you and your dog. The most popular types are usually made of one of the below materials:
- Rigid Plastic
- Soft Plastic
- Mixed Materials
Ramps and stairs are similar in what they help you accomplish for your dog. However, they differ in their design, and we’ve covered their differences extensively in this article.
How to Train Your Dog to Use Pet Stairs or Ramps
Training your dog how to use pet stairs or a ramp isn’t difficult once you get the strategy right and stay consistent. Some dogs learn quicker, while others may stay ware of stairs and ramps for a few weeks. As long as you continue with the training without punishment, your Fido will eventually get comfortable with climbing up and down. You can find a few more effective tips on this in this article.
Step 1: Going Up
- Try putting the ramp on a flat surface
- For stairs, you can start by putting them against a wall
- Lure your dog to step on it progressively by using treats
- Repeat the above step for a while to help the dog familiarized with steps/stairs
- Ask another member of the family to step on them with the dog
- Keep rewarding your Fido every time he steps on it
- Don’t reward the dog if he lays or sits on the steps; only when he does it properly
- Add inclination to the ramp progressively by placing it in various locations
- Start with your dog’s favorite place such as a bed or couch
- Put a line of treats from the lower side and going up to lure him upwards
Step 2: Going Down
- Never force the dog down; he might develop a fear of stairs/ramps if you do
- Lure your pooch towards the starting point with treats
- Move a little bit farther every time he advances or makes a little progress
- Don’t worry if he speeds up or slows down; every dog has their own pace
- Put a lot of treats at the very end to increase the motivational element
- Keep yourself close to the side of steps/ramp to help him in case of falling
- Praise your pooch when he’s gone all the way through
Step 3: Involve Command Training
- Repeat the above-mentioned steps for going up and down by indicating the ramp/stairs and giving your dog a command like “up” or “ramp”
- Reward him for listening to your command with a double or larger treat
- Repeat while progressively reducing the size of treats until you can simply pet your pooch when he follows the cue
- Keep repeating the process until no reward is needed
- You can start training your dog to use pet stairs and ramps with a leash;
- Never force your dog, don’t scare him or punish him for not following your commands or guidelines; successful training requires time and patience;
- If your Fido jumps off the ramp/stairs before he gets to the end, reposition him at the starting point until he goes all the way through;
- Try not to be too nervous or aggravated yourself during his walk back, even if the dog is shaky; your pup will sense your fear and will not proceed as he should.