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Discussion Starter #1
The new long term foster Duncan is scared of going up or down the stairs in the house. He's fine with the stairs outside leading to the front and back doors, in the park on the trails we walk, etc but the ones inside are scary. So it's not a mechanics issue just a fear issue.

So far we haven't pressed the issue but him remaining on the main level means more crate time because he isn't trusted out of our sight yet. Bedrooms are upstairs and computers/video games are downstairs. Watched a lot of TV and movies this weekend to stay on the main floor with him.

What we have done so far is trying to lure him with high value treats. No pressure on him, comes on his own and free to run away as needed. So far he's doing better going upstairs towards the bedrooms than down into the basement. I'm leaning towards it being a lighting issue, even with all the lights on it's comparatively darker in the basement than the kitchen and less dark going up to the bedrooms. Duncan has gone up 4-5 steps towards the bedrooms and I've only gotten him to approach the top of the stairs and reach a little past the threshold to lick some kong stuffing off my finger.

It's still very early in the process, two short sessions for going up the stairs and one for going down. I'm just looking to see if anyone has any other suggestions we should try or just keep doing what we're doing, slow and steady.

Thanks
 

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Out of curiosity and what I would do ... wonder what Duncan would do if you just left a treat ... say on the second step and go away and ignore him. See if he attempts it on his own. Then place the treat one step higher every day until you get to the landing(s)?

Just a thought. :)
 

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Yeah Jubel is too velcro to get the chance to try that out, at least not frequently or for very long. With a few exceptions Jubel wants to be where I am in the house when I'm home, not needy as in constantly wanting something from me but he most certainly wants to be near me. To get some one on one time with any of the short term fosters I've had and now Duncan I usually take advantage of Jubel's meal time. Set him up with one of his food dispensing toys on the main level or basement and work with the other dog while he eats on the opposite floor... so about 10 minutes. With Jubel in the room the only way to keep him from grabbing up the treat would be to restrain him and that'd get old pretty quick.

So far Duncan's desensitizing to the stairs has happened with my brother while I was at work and Jubel was at daycare and while Jubel enjoyed a stuffed kong and I worked with Duncan on the basement stairs. Certainly something I could try on occasion but I won't often have long periods of time to work with Duncan in a Jubel free environment unless plans are made to occupy Jubel. Simply moving him to the basement will just result in whining and barking at the door until I let him out, even more so if he knows/thinks I'm giving out treats.
 

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Going up the stairs to the top floor was mastered pretty quickly over the weekend without power and he's happy to go up or down those stairs now, the basement stairs are still scary. Just had some small progress tonight not that I've had some time to learn what treats are more motivating to him. He LOVES the salmon treats so I used some of those tonight. He will now step down onto the first step to get the treat, he ALMOST made it to the second step. He actually did get one foot down on the second step at one point but it was way to overwhelming and it was in contact for a split second before he spun around and ran to safety away from the stairs.

So far he seems to do best with me in sight but at a distance so there is no "danger" or me grabbing him. So I'm sitting at the bottom of the stairs cheering him on, rearranging treats, and trying out "ignoring" him. I think once he makes it to the 2nd/3rd step the rest will go pretty quickly. The kitchen is hardwood flooring and the stairs are carpeted, he doesn't seem to want to leave the hardwood floor. Not sure if it's a flooring thing or just the floor vs. stairs. Anyways it's progress and he'll get there eventually. Sadly training is slowed by the fact he's still being a picky eater and I only do any treat training if he's eaten his meal. Doesn't eat his kibble nothing but the treats he gets for going into his crate, must keep the positive association with the crate.
 

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Good to hear there is some progress! :) I wonder if he had a bad experience in the past with falling down stairs? I guess you just never know with the ones we don't get to raise ourselves. I have seen many a dog deemed worthless sitting in a shelter who's only need was some guidance and some good food, a roof over their head, human companionship and some love. :)
 

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Good to hear there is some progress! :) I wonder if he had a bad experience in the past with falling down stairs? I guess you just never know with the ones we don't get to raise ourselves. I have seen many a dog deemed worthless sitting in a shelter who's only need was some guidance and some good food, a roof over their head, human companionship and some love. :)
If I had to venture a guess at the root of the fear I'd lean more towards being punished or something bad happening to him in a basement. Functionally he can and will go up and down stairs fine. Always has outside and once he made it up the stairs to the bedrooms the second time he's been going up and down with no issues. He's getting lots of attention and attempted guidance here, just hope it sticks and whoever eventually adopts him doesn't have too much "re-building" to do when he's in a new home.
 

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The first bath we gave our dog was in the bathroom. Now, he'll never go near the bathroom (years later!) even with much encouragment & treats due to that single bath we gave him in there. He thinks we're tricking him into another bath lol.

So it's possible, Duncan's "punishment" was just a bath in the bathroom in a basement at the bottom of the stairs or something silly like that. Dog can get funny phobias too.
 

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Well I finally gave up on the slow and steady approach last night as we'd come to a stop and just put a slip lead on Duncan and pulled him down to the third stair so he'd cleared the threshold from the kitchen completely on to the stairs. Then without me pulling he slinked down the rest of the stairs with me. I dropped the lead and let him explore the basement and he was completely fine. Just went down into to the basement again about 30 minutes ago and he went down the stairs on his own no problem. Thankfully I was right in my thinking he just needed to get down here and see there was nothing scary here.

Last night I really wanted to watch some streaming netflix and the xbox and my computer are down in the basement. So it was get Duncan down in the basement with us or in his crate all evening and all night. I figured I'd give Duncan a little push (a pull in this case) and if he didn't freak out he'd get over it quickly. The pull was scary but no freak out and a quick recovery. I think if I continued with the slow and steady approached I'd still be working with him on this for about a month.
 

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Good to hear! He must just be unsure of strange places and needs a confidence boost. :)
 

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Out of curiosity and what I would do ... wonder what Duncan would do if you just left a treat ... say on the second step and go away and ignore him. See if he attempts it on his own. Then place the treat one step higher every day until you get to the landing(s)?

Just a thought. :)
Pretty much what I did with Wally. Put something on it like...say....a bit of raw steak, put it about two-three steps ahead of him, told him in a happy voice 'get it! get the steak! go ahead!' And left him to it, though I was watching out of his sight so that I could congratulate him...and do it again with another piece and further up until we got the whole thing.

After that - he got his cardio in with constant upstairs/downstairs practice.
 
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