Help with Stairs - Page 2 - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 06:02 PM
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My pup is 12 weeks and 28 lbs. He spends most of his day downstairs, but he sleeps in our upstairs bedroom at night. We just convinced him to walk up the stairs with me spotting him from behind. He absolutely will not go down the steps yet. Very soon, he'll be too heavy for me to carry up and down. And, I worry he'll start to go down the steps and tumble if he panics half way. He'll do the 2 steps up and down to get into the house from the garage. We're going to work on the 4 steps up and down through the front door. It does seem like a confidence issue, but I believe it's doable soon.

The bigger concern is that our breeder warned us against doing a full flight of stairs before the pup is a year old due to risk of hip issues later on. There's just no way I'll be able to safely carry my growing pup over the course of the next 9 months, especially when he hits the big growth spurts. We'll just try to minimize the stair use for 1-2 times per day when it's bedtime. Anyone else worried about pups' having hip issues from going up and down stairs at such a young age?
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 06:14 PM
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"our breeder warned us against doing a full flight of stairs before the pup is a year old " ????? Phoey. Breeder must be looking for an excuse.

Anyway - to the OP -- deck stairs often do not have closed risers. Open risers can be confusing. The late Barker the Younger was quite flumoxed by open riser stairs when visiting. After chatting for several hours, it was time to go upstairs to bed. BTY watched Barker the Elder and I. When we reached the landing she sat down and began barking at us. At 2 am it was pretty funny.

BTY was about 6 to 9 months at that stage. After coaxing and cajouling did no good, I took her by her hefty seat belt harness and hauled her up stairs. Stairs were no problem after that.

BTY was generally fearless, though. So know your dog. (she also had excellent hips despite being expected to do a full flight of stairs at significantly less than 1 yo.) Stairs in moderation should build muscle and support hips, not be a detriment.
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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-21-2013, 06:52 PM
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I never thought much about stairs. Just expected dogs and pups to do steps. No hip problems. No big deal. I do have backless deck steps. Again, no problem.

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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-31-2013, 05:37 AM Thread Starter
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OK my pup is now 11 and a half weeks old and is still terrified of stairs, and when I mean terrified I mean even when I pick her up to take her up the stairs or down the stairs she literally grabs on with her paws and grips me as hard as she can and cries and shakes...

Ive tried walking up a few steps and putting her down but she shuts down completely, she wont budge, you can see her claws digging in, her eyes wide and she shakes.

Im at a total loss, Ive never had a dog do this with stairs, she has never had an accident on stairs ie: falling down them. or anything that would be traumatic. She is getting heavy and with a injured kmee its hard to keep walking her up and down stairs both inside and outside the house multiple times a day.

I know people have said just give it time, but how much time? She is getting bigger everyday and I cant be carrying a large dog up and down stairs. Is there anything else I can try? Ive tried treats and words of encouragement but still nothing

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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-31-2013, 08:13 AM
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Well, we're 10 days since my post about our now 14 wk puppy who will not go down stairs. He flies up the stairs with full excitement and confidence, but puts on the brakes when it's time to go down. We've tried treats and he just backs away and whimpers. My guy is in the low thirties for weight and tick tock, I'm not going to be able to carry him down in another couple weeks of his growth.

I'm going to keep trying to get him to go downstairs with positive reinforcement (treats and my praise). Is it likely that his worry is how the stairs look and it's new to him? Will he realize he can do it once he has success a couple times? Most importantly, is there a high chance he could freak out and fall if I insist he starts going down?
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post #16 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-31-2013, 05:52 PM
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I still maintain that you need to train the stairs as a trick. Here's a decent example of similar training that popped up just today.

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post #17 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-31-2013, 06:06 PM
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Here's what I did with my Chinese Crested puppies.

I put them on the bottom step, facing down and tossed a SUPER YUMMY treat in front of them. Since it was only ONE step they had to take it didn't take them long to get over their trepidation and go.

Some were very careful about going down that step - others threw themselves (as if it get it over with sooner).

I kept doing that - carry them to that very last step, place them on it facing down and tossing treats.

Once they were doing that one step with now problem I would step them on the second to last step and toss treats.

With some puppies, by the time they mastered starting at the second-to-last step they had no problems with the whole staircase (over 10 steps).

Others I had to do the same thing at each and EVERY step.
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post #18 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-31-2013, 06:25 PM
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I hate to tell you... but it may take a long time. Grim didn't like steps, either. He goes up them no problem. Coming down? Still an issue unless it's just a couple. Coming out of my van he still has a fit... and it's a full size van so low to the ground. He went up many steps at Bass Pro, but we took the elevator down because I knew he'd throw a fit and cause a scene. I carried him until he was over 40lbs. down a long flight of deck stairs at the old house. It was about a week before we moved that he FINALLY went down them. I have used treats, been slow and gentle, etc. He just doesn't like going down stairs that he's not used to. I don't know what the issue is with him, either. He doesn't even show hesitation to 99.9% of things. We have two small stairs to the yard here that he has no issue with. He'll get used to getting out of the van. Stairs, I think, are just going to take more time.

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post #19 of 28 (permalink) Old 01-31-2013, 07:00 PM
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Ours usually learned by watching the "old" dog of the house. The will to follow us or the other dog down was enough. Zoey was a bit scared of the stairs. She would put her front paws on the first step and stop cold. One day Tuke and my son went down the stairs, Zoey stopped as usual, so I moved in behind her and blocked her exit. I didn't push or prod, i just sat there so she couldnt turn around. I had my son encourage her with pieces of steak from a step or so away. It didn't take but a few minutes and down she went. She did it a couple more times on her own and that was it. We just did this again with our new pup.

I'd also like to say I agree with middleofnowhere, they should be able to handle occasional steps without worry.
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post #20 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-02-2013, 07:00 AM
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Help with Stairs

My girl ran up and down the stairs right at 8 weeks. She was on the small side. She's 9 months old.
My boy on the other hand is much much larger than her. He is fearless and tried to dive right off the stairs. One time he did and luckily didn't get hurt .I have hardwood and they slip if not careful.
He is only 14 weeks.
Someone wrote on a post that I had asked the same question. They suggested I try walking him down on a leash to slow him down.
We have been working on it daily. I always try to stay in front if him with encouragement he is getting much better.
I guess it's like everything else, patience and training.
Good luck

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