Why Some Dogs Are Afraid Of Stairs & Ways to Help them Overcome it: Puppies, rescue dogs, adults, and older dogs can all be afraid of going up and down stairs. This can be hard for both the dog and their owner. That shaking, crying, and backing up that happens when a dog sees a scary staircase is always for a reason, no matter how old or small the dog is.
There are times when the dog is only scared of one set of stairs, and other times when it is scared of every raised platform or rise in elevation. If this sounds like your dog, you should figure out what’s making them scared before you try to help them get over it. Here are some common things that could happen.
Why Some Dogs Are Afraid Of Stairs & Ways to Help them Overcome it.
1. Not Being Exposed to
- Most of the time, puppies are afraid of stairs because they have never seen them before. Puppies are exposed to a lot of new things from the moment they are born. The carpet they walk on and the cat that lives next door could all be new and scary.
- A puppy will think the first flight of stairs is a big, scary thing to get through. For the most shy of the litter, being new could be a very big danger. Fears don’t just happen to puppies when they don’t get enough exposure.
- If you have an older dog that has lived in a one-story home all its life, it’s likely that it has never had to go up or down stairs. They didn’t learn that important lesson when they were puppies, and now that they’re older, seeing something new scares them even more.
2. A traumatic event
- Dogs learn from their past, and the way they are exposed to certain things is just as important as the fact that they are exposed to them at all.
- It’s normal for them to become afraid of stairs if something bad happened to them on or near a flight of stairs. The event, whether they fell or were pushed down a flight of stairs, they will likely not forget.
- Being startled by something on the stairs could hurt them in the long run, even if they weren’t hurt physically. Every time they see a set of stairs, that one scary event will come back to them.
3. Picked up behavior
- People who own dogs sometimes make them afraid of stairs, but it’s usually an accident. If the dog isn’t allowed on the second floor during the day, for example, owners will try different methods to keep them from going up and down the stairs.
- Even though baby gates don’t seem dangerous, any kind of negative association with the stairs is enough to make a dog think that all stairs are bad, no matter what. If you hit a dog when it tries to go up or down the stairs, it will learn not to do that again.
4. Health Problem
- If none of these other possibilities make sense for your dog, they might be stuck on the ground floor because of a health problem.
- If you have arthritis, hip dysplasia, or a new injury, going up and down stairs could be very painful. You could say that they’re not afraid of stairs, but of pain.
- Older dogs that have never had problems with stairs start to avoid them over time for this reason, and a birth defect in a young puppy can be mistaken for a phobia. Before you begin training, talk to your vet to make sure that nothing painful is going on.
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