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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have mentioned in other threads that I'm a pretty bad dog trainer with a smart dog...
and I'm stuck on teaching a simple thing!

Rumo's arthritis has been progressing a bit, and he's been hesitant about going up and down the steep steps to the deck. (Deck is on same level with house, and is the only way to come in from backyard). So we got out the wooden ramp we made (from his bloat surgery) and put it back over the steps again. It's wide, sturdy, covered with nonskid material, and has a shallow slope of about 15 degrees (my daughter used trigonometry to calculate it out! :)

So during his surgery recovery, he was always led slowly up and down the ramp on leash (he was not allowed to walk much). Now I am teaching him to use the ramp without leash. At first he didn't want to get on it, but I stood beside the ramp, led him up it with bits of kibble, and gave a few more kibbles at top. Now I'm at the point where if I am standing by the ramp, I can just do the "lead dog up the ramp" hand gesture, and he'll walk up it. But he will never go up the ramp without the hand gesture!!! Instead, if he goes out to pee and then wants to come back in from the backyard, he stands patiently at the bottom of the ramp and waits and waits for me to notice him. Then I have to (sigh) go outside, stand beside the ramp, and make the hand gesture, and then he'll come up!

How do I teach him that he can use the ramp to go up and down by himself, whenever he wants?
i.e. no command, leash, or hand gesture - I just want him to use the ramp the same way he used the steps!

I've tried walking up and down, up and down the ramp myself, and he watches me with amusement but still...will never use it by himself...agh.
Thanks for any ideas...
 

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You could try pairing the hand signal with a new verbal command, and then gradually phase out the hand signal. :)
 

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Actually, I'd just lose any verbal or hand signal cue, and just put him on a leash and walk him up the ramp. Then, after some time, let him decide for himself. He'll understand over time, left to make the choice...
 

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The Nerd Herder
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Recall from the doorway?
 
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Might try placing a couple treats on the ramp whilst he’s doing his business and return inside. If he’s simply waiting for the command, a high value reward may help counter the training you did post surgery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for the ideas!
We were travelling for Thanksgiving, got back today.

Recall from the doorway?
Yep, tried this a few times while standing on deck at top of ramp.
He comes over quickly, then stops at bottom of ramp and gazes up at me...(he used to continue all the way up the steps).

Treats. Or go and give the hand signal. Why don’t you want to? I always get up when my dogs go outside.
We have a dog door, and during my workday he has access to it. He used to go out to fenced yard, wander around, sniff, pee, come back in himself. After ramp - I got up to take a break, couldn't find him, and found him outside standing at bottom of the ramp in his "waiting spot" (don't know how long he was there!) :)

It may be that your dog doesn't feel secure on the ramp without you.
Could be! Except that he will trot quick DOWN the ramp by himself, he just won't come UP by himself! It's quite strange.
Maybe even though it's a shallow slope, it still causes him discomfort to come up? Although he shows no hesitation and trots up comfortably when I make the hand signal.🤔

Actually, I'd just lose any verbal or hand signal cue, and just put him on a leash and walk him up the ramp. Then, after some time, let him decide for himself. He'll understand over time, left to make the choice...
Yes, maybe enough repetition and habit will do the trick! I'll try that this week...
I thought that just showing him how to go up and down a few times without leash would be enough, but maybe now he thinks it's some kind of cue and he is not allowed to go up without the cue? So I have to break the association in his doggy-brain...

I'll update on our progress!
 

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maybe use mealtimes? let him out in the morning, while he’s doing his business, leave his breakfast on the deck and go back inside.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
yes, a bowl sitting at top of ramp might work wonders!
( Especially if I'm not looking at him...then he won't feel like he's "violating" the cue...)

Hmm although I could be torturing him, since he will leave a piece of cheese on kitchen counter or table untouched forever.
Maybe I'll sit by the bowl and encourage him and smile at him...

But then what if he won't come up without a bowl there?!
I'm probably overthinking this! Gotta try to think like a dog...
 

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yes, a bowl sitting at top of ramp might work wonders!
( Especially if I'm not looking at him...then he won't feel like he's "violating" the cue...)

Hmm although I could be torturing him, since he will leave a piece of cheese on kitchen counter or table untouched forever.
Maybe I'll sit by the bowl and encourage him and smile at him...

But then what if he won't come up without a bowl there?!
I'm probably overthinking this! Gotta try to think like a dog...
idk, i’m very hands off with things like this…. i create the situation and the dogs gotta figure it out. if the normal routine is wake up, potty, eat, then you’ve already got that going for you. if necessary, go down with him the first couple of mornings so that the trip back up the ramp is seamless and breaks the pattern of him standing there waiting for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Morning routine is walk with husband, then come home and have breakfast, and they have been walking up the ramp (I think he keeps Rumo on leash?)

But one thing for sure, no more signals/cues, I think!
( It's weird how easy/quick it was to train him to go up the ramp unleashed...it was like, 4 repetitions? I don't know how it got stuck in his brain as some sort of dog training command! Hopefully it will be as fast to "unstick" it. 😊 )
 

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Maybe a long line? Just a tug from the top to get him moving.
 

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If you have a dog door I would stand inside the house behind the dog door and recall from there if you see him waiting at the bottom of the ramp. Encourage him with a "you can do it" and wait him out. He will likely want to come to you and get brave with encouragement of your voice but not seeing you. He'll likely want to find you if he can hear you calling him but can't see you. When he makes it on his own you know to have the party of praise. He'll figure it out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
In hindsight, the mistake I made...

I wanted my dog to treat the ramp as part of his natural environment.
So I should have let him figure it out on his own - just like figuring out how to go around a large bush to get to me.

But what I did wrong was, I trained the ascent of the ramp like a formal dog-training cue, and in his brain he formed an association (after only 4 practices):
"I go up the ramp when Mom gives me the cue!"
So when he wants to go up, he stands there and waits for me to come stand in that place and point with my hand (unfortunately he is very patient ). 😬

So now I shall work on undoing my dog training!
No progress yet, but I shall try these various good ideas...thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
There is a humorous update to this!

I went out to play music yesterday, and when I got home, Rumo was out in backyard.
My husband called from the back door: "Rumo! Come in! Mom is home!!!"
Guess who came trotting eagerly up the ramp, through dogdoor, and right into house?

So there is a thing that overcame his training, ha ha. I would never in a million years have thought of that as a method.
That was a breakthrough...and I think it should go easier from now on... 😊
 
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