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My Wolfie is 3 months old and seems like he is packing on a pound a day. Right now, he is at 25 lbs. He goes up the stairs just fine (we have just one flight of stairs in the house) but he refuses to walk down even when we are at his side coaxing him on. He will just refuse to budge. We have 3 steps leading into our backyard and he has no problem with those. I would like to know the best way to teach him to go down the stairs so that I don't end up adding to his fear. We didn't really have this problem with our previous dogs and so have no idea how to handle this. I am kind of petite and my husband is not available all the time to lug him downstairs and my lower back is starting to hurt a bit lately from picking him up and carrying him down. Hence the urgency...

By the way, I should mention, using a treat as a lure didn't really work.
 

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I actually had this same problem w/Kodee, but only out in public on "strange stairs." He's training to be a therapy dog, and I started taking him out in public at a very young age. The first time we tried to go down a slippery set of stairs (at Cabela's), or a carpeted set of steep stairs (at the public library), he absolutely wouldn't do it. So I started by just walking him over to the top of the stairs, and putting a VERY tasty treat (like a piece of hotdog) at the top of the staircase. (not on the top step, just on the floor near the edge of the first step down.) I just let him go to the edge, pick up the treat, and come back away from the stairs. It took him a while, but he finally started going for the treat. Then' I'd praise him and walk away from the stairs. After doing this for a while (a few times over the next week or two), he was not so reluctant. Once he got over the initial fear of looking down that scary staircase, he wasn't really too afraid of the actual stairs. I finally just got to where he'd let me pull him (firmly but gently, don't drag him) down to the landing, and then back up. I would give him a treat at the bottom of the stairs (or on the landing) as well as at the top before we went down, so he looked forward to getting to the bottom of the stairs.

One tip - make sure you don't let him bolt the last few steps (to get it over with!), as that's dangerous for you and him. I just kept Kodee on a short leash, and kind of held it in my fist behind my hip (on the same side as the dog), to give myself something to brace against. He got praised for not pulling.

Good luck - I hope this helps! Kodee will now go up and down the stairs anywhere w/no problem. Yesterday he even went down a rickety set of wooden stairs outdoors next to the railroad tracks by the river nearby (those stairs even make me nervous!), and it didn't faze him a bit.
 

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Exactly what KodeeGirl says! Lead with the tasty treats.

Our house is nothing but stairs (it's two stories from the front to the backyard and potty area) so it wasn't really an option for Lancer-nor was it an option. When I find he is a little hesitant, I pull out the chicken breast and just start dropping a trail-and send Kayla ahead as well.

Eventually the challenge will become making sure he slows at the bottom and doesn't charge off just as Kodee Girl pointed out.
 

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Well you know he'll do three. So now you can pick him up and place him on the 3rd step from the bottom of your indoor stairs, call him down and reward him. When that goes well, place him on the 4th step, call him down and reward him. When that goes well, the 5th step, etc, etc, until he will do it from the top. It will probably only take a couple minutes once he realizes its just like outside only more, but don't be afraid to break it up over multiple training sessions so he doesn't get overwhelmed, scared, or frustrated.
 

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we had a similar problem with our Riley. she was 4 months to the day when we took her home. we are "all stairs" like everett54 (townhouse). She learned quickly to go up (THAT was a pain to carry her up!) but had a hard time controlling the down. When she WOULD go down, she would smack right into the wall because she couldn't stop in time. We carried her for several weeks but would always try a coax or two to get her to come. She started doing half of them, and then one day when friends were over she just suddenly went down them and had no problem running into the wall. (then we couldn't keep her off of them! lol).

i think they come around, esp in their own time. Be thankful you are starting earlier- Riley was already 39lbs when we had her, so it was ALOT to lug up/down the stairs.

Try something REALLY tasty and new. Give him a taste of it at the top of the stairs so he knows what he is missing. (Have you tried a high reward treat like freeze dried liver? that did it for Riley!) (SUCKER! hee hee)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well, I tried some of the things suggested here. When I put on top of the stairs with the treat on the next step, he was sniffing vigorously but wouldn't go anywhere near it. When I put him on the fourth step (from the bottom) with the treat on the third, he did the same thing then turned and bolted upstairs. Both times I was coaxing him on. Perhaps the treat is not high value enough? I will try it again with the freeze dried liver.
 

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I dealt with this when I adopted Basu. He was 4.5 and had never gone up or down a full flight of stairs. The treats worked fine for teaching him to go up but not to go down. So what we did was to take our other dog, go into the basement (the only flight of stairs in our house) and basically have a big old party, dog style. We were giving out treats, chasing the other dog around, playing with toys, etc. He couldn't stand being left out so finally he commando crawled down the stairs and then he was fine after that!

One other thought: is their carpeting or a runner on your stairs? If not then that might make him feel more secure.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi Ruth, Yes, we do have carpeting on the stairs. Now that I think of it that might have something to do with it because the back steps are wooden. By the way, I noticed in your signature that you are in the Buffalo area. We live in Williamsville
 

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to teach my dog to go down the steps i would carry him down the steps and place him on the 2nd step from the bottom and let him go down on his own from there. we did that for awhile. then i started adding a step. i did the same thing with going up the steps. i carried up the steps and placed him on the 2nd one from the top. going up seemed a little harder. when he was going down the steps i would stand in front of him so he wouldn't hurt himself. going up the steps i stood behind him. we brought our boy home at 9 weeks old. i didn't start step training untill he was 10 weeks old. once he knew how to go up and down the steps i still walked in front of him when he was going down the steps and behind him when he came up the steps. when he was going down the steps he started picking up to much speed. when he was going up the steps i walked behind him because i didn't want him to fall backwards.
 

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It worked!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I followed KodeeGirl's advice on using hotdogs and Deanna's advice on increasing the number of steps slowly. We were able to get Wolfie all the way down in a matter of half an hour. He learned the trick pretty quick and before we knew it, scampered upstairs and started coming down the steps on his own, staring expectantly at us and sniffing the steps as he came down for the hotdog pieces.
 
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