Pet Steps: Getting Your Dog to Use Them

If you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already got yourself a nice set of pet steps; but if you haven’t yet purchased dog stairs, you might want to take a minute to seriously consider the benefits. Every time your dog jumps on and off of objects such as furniture, his joints absorb the impact. Over time, this can lead to the early development of arthritis, not to mention that any time your dog jumps from something, he risks the possibility of a broken bone. Besides, pet stairs are wonderful to use by the bed to keep your dog from pouncing on and off the bed, simultaneously jolting you awake.

Some dogs may not take to using pet stairs straight away. This is not uncommon an uncommon occurrence, especially if the dog is older. All it takes is a little effort on your part to show your dog (in a way that he can understand) that using the stairs is worthwhile to him.

We’ve always had the best results when using our dog’s favourite treat as encouragement to use the stairs. For our bedside pet steps, I would sit on the bed in front of the steps dangling our pup’s favourite biscuit. At first he would try to go around the stairs to jump on the bed. When this happened, I hid the treat behind my back and gave my dog a firm “No!” After a few attempts (and many acts of re-positioning my dog in front of the steps), my dog finally understood that he would receive praise and a treat when he used the stairs. It didn’t take him long to learn to use the stairs on a regular basis.

You may be interested in a more “extreme” method of training your dog to use his pet stairs. This method involves denying your dog total access to the furniture unless he uses the pet stairs to climb up. For instance, if your dog primarily likes to lie on your bed, but refuses to use the steps, tell him to get off—or bodily remove him if you have to. Place him in front of the steps and motion for him to climb up. Do not let him onto the bed until he uses the steps. As with any type of training, it’s good to encourage your dog with words of praise. Dogs respond more to their owner’s tone of voice more than the actual words, therefore a cheery “Good boy!” goes a long way in convincing your dog that he’s pleasing you when he uses the stairs.

For information about getting your dog a set of pet stairs, visit Help Your Pets.

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