Do you notice your older buddy having a hard time getting in the car or on higher floors? Sadly, this is another effect of aging. But the good news? By training a senior dog use the ramp or stairs, you can help your older buddy have a well-adjusted and comfortable lifestyle.
First things first: by using positive reinforcement as you train your dog, the entire training process will be enjoyable and your dog will gain more confidence.
When ramp training your dog, you can start by placing the ramp on a flat area, like the floor or a carpet. The next part is about teaching your dog to follow the treat slowly by luring your buddy with treats while slowly crossing the ramp.
Be generous with the treats: give one when your dog is able to place a paw on the ramp, and another when all paws are on it. Every step deserves a treat. In no time, your dog will get the message: crossing the ramp is a positive thing!
Sometimes, your dog will turn around. You can be firm and give a stern command such as “No”, “Up” or “Out” before directing your dog with hand gestures to sto
Once your dog has fully understood how to cross the ramp, it’s time to raise the ramp a little. The incline shouldn’t be too high or steep, as it may stir panic in your old buddy.
Stair training is a bit different—some people even claim that it’s a bit easier.
When you’re training your dog to use stairs, be patient and go at his pace. Create a trail of treats from the base of the stairs to the top and onto your couch or bed. As your dog investigates the treats, stand next to him and, with gentle praise, drop treats on the next stair or two. You can also use a lure held slightly out in front of your dog’s nose and reward him for following it. Some pets may be comfortable going up the stairs but more cautious going back down, so it’s essential to practice both.
Once your dog starts to use the stairs with ease, fade the treats or food lure. Do this by adding a verbal cue, such as “climb,” and toss a treat, or use an empty hand as a target to lead the dog up or down the stairs. Next, say your verbal cue and pretend to toss a treat. If your dog moves up or down the stairs, immediately reward him with a treat placed at the top or bottom of the stairs. Keep your dog motivated by rewarding him with praise, petting and the occasional treat. (Read more here)
Both ramp training and stair training may prove to be a challenge for you and your dog. But if you think of it as an opportunity to bond with your fur buddy, you’d surely have a lot of fun along the way!