Dog phobias can be several, but there is one in particular that affects many of them, namely the fear of stairways. Let’s find out together why the dog is afraid of stairs and what needs to be done about it.
How many times in front of the stairs in the house, in the shops or at the subway exit did you have to stop to convince your four-legged friend to continue the walk? The fear of going up and down stairs is very common in dogs and the problem can have various origins.
Dogs and stairway phobia: why?
Fear of stairs can occur in all dogs regardless of age.
Puppies may be afraid of stairs as they represent a novelty for them, a bit like everything they encounter in their first weeks of life.
An adult dog, on the other hand, may be afraid of it for different reasons: for example, for the simple fact that he never got used to it as a child; because he suffered a trauma going up or down from them; but also because he may have pain in his paws.
Genetics can also play a crucial role: it is easier for a dog born of fearful parents to have the same attitude, just because he imitates the behaviour of the mother.
How to get your dog out of fear of stairs
It is important to know that to help your four-legged friend overcome the fear of stairs you need to be very patient. One solution is to use a positive reinforcement, that is, rewarding the dog every time he shows himself calm in front of a certain stimulus.
The steps are:
1. Eliminate all possible obstacles from the stairs that do nothing but feed fear in the dog and which at the same time represent further dangers the animal could encounter by tripping over them.
2. Sit by the stairs and start calling the dog in a soft voice or by clapping your hands gently. If he hesitates, use something truly irresistible like a treat or a toy to entice him and entice him to approach. Sessions must be short and every time the dog goes near the stairs, you have to reward him. The idea is to have him associate scales with prizes.
3. Build a path of morsels that reaches the first step. If the dog slowly progresses and approaches, you will have to compliment him, thus reinforcing this behaviour. Day after day, insert more steps, so he will gradually climb the stairs, almost without realizing it.
4. When the dog has managed to descend or climb all the steps without fear, do not go away, but wait for him at the end of the stairs, then call him and get his attention. In this way, if a moment of loss comes to him, he will still feel safe.
By repeating this exercise calmly and consistently, the dog will overcome fear and will no longer have anxiety in front of a staircase!