3 Reasons Why Your Large Dog is Afraid of Stairs

Does your large dog have a strange phobia of going up and down the stairs? It may be more understandable for puppies and small dogs but not as much for large dogs that can comfortably use the stairs step by step. Here are some common reasons for the behavior.

Your Dog is Affected by a Medical Condition

For any strange behaviors you observe among large dogs, it’s important to first check whether it is caused by a health issue. Your dog, for example, might have a fear of using the stairs because doing so puts him in a lot of pain. Your large dog might have joint issues like arthritis or inflammation.

If your large dog is suddenly afraid of using the stairs then it’s definitely worthwhile calling the vet for advice. Make sure you have the vet rule out any medical conditions before taking the next steps.

Lack of Exposure to Stairs

If it’s not a physical health issue then it could be a psychological one. If your large dog has not been exposed to stairs at an early age then he may be fearful of it due to the lack of certainty. If your large dog has only lived in a single-story home his whole life then he may think of the stairs as an intimidating obstacle.

Your Dog Had a Traumatic Stairs Experience

Perhaps your dog had a traumatic experience with stairs in the past where he slipped and fell badly. Traumatic experiences can stick with dogs for a long time. Even if they didn’t get physically injured at the time, the startling experience may still leave a negative impression on the dog.

Fortunately, large dogs that are afraid of stairs due to a non-medical issue can most often be conditioned to not be afraid of stairs after some training sessions.

How to Get Your Large Dog to Go Down Stairs

Typically, large dogs have more trouble going down stairs than going up. What you need to do is a training called counter-conditioning. This is to get a dog to do something that’s different to his current behavior. Also, when training your large dog to use the stairs, the process should never be rushed.

It needs to be a gradual process or else your large dog will go through a lot of stress. First, get your dog comfortable moving right next to the stairs by offering plenty of praises. Next, place his favorite toys or treats in the subsequent steps to encourage your dog to make his next move.

Over time, your dog will learn to no longer fear the stairs and use it as he pleases. In addition to conducting this training, it’s also important to make sure the surface of the stairs aren’t slippery. Laminated wooden steps, for example, can cause a dog to easily slip so you may need to add some anti-slip tiles to prevent such injuries.

In other cases, it may also help to add a ramp along the stairs to reduce the strain on the dog’s joint as he moves up or down the stairs.

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a veterinarian when in doubt.


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