Conquering the Stairs.

** First, a fostermom moment: Baxter has officially learned sit! He didn’t know it when he first got here (or at least pretended not to) and now he does it perfectly! Every time he sits on command – especially for other people – my heart just bursts! I know it’s a really small thing but I am just so proud of my little bugger! Now on to our regularly scheduled programming…**

Like many other dogs who got the short end of the socialization stick in their early years, Comeback Kid Baxter can be understandably a little weary of new situations. One new situation that he didn’t exactly embrace with open paws? Stairs.

Now if you think about it from a dog’s point of view, stairs can certainly be quite scary. They are little zig zagging floors that lead to the depths of WHO KNOWS WHERE. Baxter will follow me all over the house, only to stop dead in his tracks when I head down the stairs. This has been a little inconvenient, as I live in the basement and any time I want to go to my room Bax won’t follow. I resorted to the solution for all things Baxter: food!

Baxter is extremely food motivated, which makes training him not only easy, but also really fun. Check out how this exercise went (and yes this was real first attempt!):

The bait: kibble. On every single step.

There ya go, Bax. Not too hard.

Half way there. Will he turn around!?

I'd bet money that he won't be able to resist that big victory pile at the bottom...

Success!!! Good boy Bax.

Then of course he turned right around and trotted back up the stairs. See ya! I figured I should be happy with that and was ready to call it a day. Until I heard…

The pitter patter of little paws slinking back down the stairs. Baxter’s good old love for food brought him back to investigate if there were any missing pieces. He walked up and down and up and down – so many times that he completely forgot why he was ever afraid!

Now Bax trots up and down the stairs fearlessly with ease, and he and I can hang out in my room worry free (which clearly CK Bax embraced quickly).

11 thoughts on “Conquering the Stairs.

  1. Nancy

    Love this!!! I am fostering a little Jack Russell from a puppy mill and we are having the same exact problem. She will run UP the stairs with Glee as she sleeps in her crate in my room there. But going DOWN is a whole nuther Oprah! I will try this method, thanks!

  2. Stairs are EXTREMELY scary! Kenji took a bit to get the hang of them (actually, let’s be real, he still flies over them causing him to either crash at the bottom or into the door going up) but he really refuses to go into the basement of our house, maybe I’ll try this little idea!

    Bax is TOO cute and am again hoping (and not hoping cause he’ll have a forever home) that you still have him in three weeks!!!!

  3. That is such a smart idea! Turkey was terrified of stairs when I first got him (and I was extremely inexperienced back then) so I just tried to drag him up and down the stairs at my apartment to get him to go to the bathroom. Needless to say, it didn’t work too well. I wish I had thought of this back then – it would have gone a lot faster!

  4. Love this! It makes me smile! My boxer had the same issue. Never realized that not having stairs in my 1 floor rancher would be an issue until at 9 months we stayed at my in-laws and the bedrooms were up stairs and Bailey stopped in his tracks refusing to go. I pretty much did the same thing, food with a little help from a clicker too! He was going up and down in no time! :)

  5. So great! I wouldn’t have thought of it either. I guess we’re lucky we didn’t have this with our pooches since we live in a walk-up building. And they would be way to heavy to carry. The funny thing is, Mr. B and foster dog Levi have had issues getting into the car.

    • Bax has car trouble too! He will sit right outside the door and stare at me (I get in the back seat to help coax him in) and refuse to budge. I refuse to force him in and out, so I do the same exact thing as with the stairs: put small piles of food just outside his reach so he can sniff them but has to climb in to eat them. He has gone from taking a solid 10 minutes to get in the car to just one pile in about 2 minutes (in about 3 days and maybe 6 or 7 car rides)! It takes some time but prevents him from hating the car, in fact I think he is probably starting to like it because he gets so many treats. I am hoping one day he will just hop right in, and thanks to the treats I think he is on his way. It’s great having a food motivated dog, and always amazing what yummies can accomplish. Good luck with Mr. B and SuperLevi!

  6. Pingback: Week 1 in Review: Learning to Be a Dog | Peace, Love, & Fostering

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