Strategies for dogs scared of stairs

fearful dogs Nov 07, 2023

Do you have a dog who is afraid to go up or down stairs? This is something I've seen with many of my fearful dog clients. Here I'll talk about options to consider if you've got a dog afraid of stairs. In the next blog, I'll talk about training a dog to go up and down stairs. 

If your dog is afraid of stairs, here are some options to consider:


Option #1: Avoid stairs 

Is there any way you can change your route or routine to avoid stairs for the time being? If so, this could be a short-term, or even a long-term solution, depending on the setup of your home. 

For example, in our home, there is a narrow, steep flight of stairs heading down into the basement, and none of our dogs like it. If we really need to get the dogs into the basement, we can bring them around the outside of the house to an exterior door into the basement. It's not convenient, but it works. 


Option #2: Carry your dog up/down stairs

If you're physically capable of carrying your dog, and your dog tolerates being picked up, this can be a relatively easy solution.  


Option #3: Place a ramp over the stairs

Many dogs find a ramp less intimidating than stairs. You can try a ramp that's made for dogs getting in and out of the car if you can find one that's big enough. Or, you can construct one yourself with some plywood and something on top for grip. While this is easiest to do if the stairs in question are in your home and you can leave the ramp in place, in theory you could set up a portable ramp for very temporary use on public staircases. 


Option #4: Train your dog to go up and down stairs

If stairs are unavoidable and fairly frequent in your dog's life, you might want to put in the time and effort to train them to go up and down stairs. For some dogs this goes pretty quickly, while for others the process can take quite a while. In the next installment I'll talk a little about putting together a stairs training plan for your dog. 





If you have any questions about helping your fearful dog overcome (or avoid) their fear of stairs, shoot us an email at [email protected]. We'll be happy to try to help!

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