Q & A: Going up and down stairs

Q: What is the best way to teach my Dachshund puppy to go up or down the stairs?

A: Firstly, I would advise that you chat to your vet about your puppy’s safety on stairs while his little body is still growing, as the Dachshund is prone to developing back problems.

Grab some yummy treats for your pup. Start at the bottom step, going up – many pups find climbing down the stairs a bit more intimidating and we want to make it as easy as possible for him.

Show him the treat, and then simply place it on the first step. It’s okay if pup can reach the treat without jumping up the stair – we are taking this slowly.

Start to gradually move the treat further away, until the pup has to jump up the step to get to it.

Praise your pup enthusiastically every time he takes the treat.

Now take a break and do the same thing again later.

As soon as pup looks happy climbing up one step, you can move on to the next one. The most important thing is that you never force your pup – resist the urge to pick him up and put him on the next step. Respect the fact that the stairs appear very high for him and might be really scary!

Picking him up will not ‘show him that it’s not so bad’ but rather increase his fear.

The same technique applies when teaching him to go down the steps, although it might take a little longer (going down the steps can be more daunting than going up). Keep your training sessions short and light-hearted, and be very patient with pup.

Allow him to progress at his own pace, and before long the stairs won’t be an issue anymore.

Noleen Fourie, behaviourist

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