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Afraid to go down the stairs but not up!

7902 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Aimstew22
I have a 12 week old pup who is terrified, and I mean terrified of goign dwon steps for some reason. She will pull as hard as she can backing up from the steps and will whine & cry and wiggle as though to try and get off her leash/collar so she doesn't have to go down steps. It doesn't seem to matter if there are 6 steps of 20 if they are green & metal or concrete she just will not go down them. I usually end up giving up on trying to coax her down them and end up carrying her. Shes 20 lbs already though so I am not going to be able to carry her for much longer! She has no problem going up stairs at all, that doesn't scare her. She also used to seem afraid to jump off the couch, maybe 1.5 off the ground or so but recently has started doing that sometimes on her own.

Any suggestions on trying to help break this fear would be great!!
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Muggsy, my old dog was like this. Going up the stairs is an entirely different movement from going down. Plus, look up the stairs from your dog's height, now look down the stairs. Up looks happy and easy, down looks like a giant chasm of terror.

The secret is patience and persistence. Get some really high value treats, like hot dogs or chicken and gently coax her down, one step at a time, praising her all the way. Give her a treat for every stair at first, then every other stair, then every third stair, etc. You may have to carry her down most of the stairs at first, but eventually, she'll catch on. This may take a while, maybe even weeks.

Also, make sure none of the stairs she uses are slippery. Like I said, up is different from down, and a dog is much more likely to slip going down than up. If any stairs are slippery, fix that. I bought asphalt tape and laid down strips on my hardwood stairs. Yeah, it looks like hell, but it helped the dog. There are other solutions, if you don't want to use the tape.

Good luck!
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My puppy was like this at first too. Thankfully, for once I was glad he's is super attached to me. Because all it took to break him of the fear was for me to leave him upstairs in our house while I went downstairs, out of sight, and called him a few times. The first time he made it down one stair and then just whined til I went and got him. The second time he came down on his own, but very slowly, taking each step carefully. By the third time, he just came barreling down and has never had a problem since.
Yeah she's still small, it'll take time for her to get over it. Go slow like Amaryllis said with treats, and don't try to force her down or it'll freak her out more.

You could also try surprising her into it or making it part of a game. What I mean by that is getting her focused on something else, like a fun game of chasing you around, so when you go running down the stairs, she just might be into the game enough to take a few steps down herself before realizing what she's doing. (Ideally do this on a short set of non-slippery steps - ours have a carpet runner so I wasn't afraid of Snoopy going for a tumble when I did this with him.) It may or may not work for you, but just be ready with treats and praise if she so much as puts a paw down one step... you might have to build it up slowly, but she'll get used to it really fast once she gets down the stairs the first time.
That's pretty normal. Molly was about 12 weeks when we got her and she was always getting trapped upstairs. I don't think it took very long for her to get the hang of it.
Update - We have successfully gone down quite a few different flights of stairs now. She still goes rather slow and at times it hesitant for a moment at the top but I just keep telling her its okay and good girl and she comes on her own! Yay!!

Thank you for all of the advice, and no doubt to her some of these huge stair cases look very scary!
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