Having a dog with anxiety around stairs can be frustrating and worrisome. It can also be hard to determine what’s at the root of their fear, because it might not seem like anything traumatic happened to them. However, if your dog is older or has a history of injury, stairs can be scary for them because they’re painful or exhausting to climb.
What to Do When Your Dog Is Afraid of Stairs
If your dog is afraid of stairs, take some time to observe his behavior. Does he look like he’s about to panic? If so, it’s best not to force him up and down the stairs until he feels more comfortable. You can help him out by using a treat or toy as a reward for going up and down the stairs. It’s also important that you stay close by in case something goes wrong or your pup needs an extra boost of reassurance.
If your dog is afraid of coming home from a trip and having to go up or down the stairs again, do what you can during those first few days at home so that they’re comfortable with the process before introducing them back into their regular routine again.
Why Is My Dog Afraid of Stairs?
It’s possible that your dog doesn’t know what stairs are, or maybe he’s never seen them before. Dogs don’t have a strong sense of familiarity for objects or places, so if you’ve only recently moved into a home with stairs, your dog may be afraid to go up or down them.
It’s also possible that your pet has fallen down the stairs before and is scared of repeating the experience. Dogs can get hurt easily when they fall, so it makes sense that they would be hesitant to take another tumble down these steep steps.
If you keep your dog in an apartment building with multiple floors and no elevators (or elevators that work all the time), it’s likely that he’ll need to use the stairs at some point during his daily travels around town. Since dogs are social animals and like to stick close by their owners during outings, this separation anxiety could make him more nervous about traversing any type of staircase—even if there isn’t one in sight!
How to Help a Fearful Dog Go Up Stairs
- If your dog is afraid of stairs, it is important to keep him or her calm. You can use a leash for this.
- A treat may help your dog go up the stairs.
- It’s helpful to practice with your dog in low-stress situations before attempting any big steps, such as taking him outside on a walk or getting into the car to go somewhere fun!
- Ask someone else who knows how to work with dogs—a friend or family member who is good at this sort of thing—to help out if possible. This will give you more time and energy as well as provide options if one method doesn’t work well.
Coming Home from a Trip? Tips for Reintroducing Your Dog to Your Apartment’s Staircase
If you’ve just returned from a trip, your dog may be feeling anxious about going outside to explore their new environment. If so, the best thing to do is give them time to adjust before expecting too much of them. The staircase is an intimidating space and introducing your dog to it will take time. In the meantime, try these strategies:
Let your dog explore the stairs at their own pace (if they’re feeling bold enough). This will allow them to keep track of where they are while taking in as much information as possible about this potentially unfamiliar area.
Try using a long leash attached to their collar and gently guide them through the steps one at a time. This can be done without actually placing them on the stairs.
Place treats or food in different locations along the steps so that they have something rewarding to look forward to as they approach each new step.
Make sure there aren’t any loud noises that could upset your pup as they walk up or down the stairs—no music playing from a nearby radio, for example; no creaking floorboards underfoot; etc.
By using a combination of these strategies, you should be able to help your dog overcome his or her fear of stairs. As we’ve mentioned, it’s important to maintain a consistent routine and to only resort to carrying your pet as a last resort. If you work with your dog consistently over time, you may be surprised at the progress he or she can make!