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How do you get a dog to go down basement steps

by Noel
(Cinncinnati, OH)

This is Eli in my bedroom on my blanket!

This is Eli in my bedroom on my blanket!

Question:

My dog, Eli, has K-9 compulsive disorder and he has a lot of fears in life. My other dog, Cassie goes down the basement steps but Eli doesn't. I am very afraid that if there is a tornado he will get hurt. We have tried everything and just can`t get him to down the steps, could anyone give us a tip?

Answer:

Noel, it sounds like you have tried a number of things to help Eli. Although we are not dog behavior experts by any means, here is the way we would try it:

Step 1: Blindfold him and lead him around in the main part of the house. Take the blindfold off and give praise and a treat.
Step 2: If you have stairs going up, you could go up and down with him blindfolded so he gets used to the sensation of doing stairs without being able to see.
Do this a few times over separate days till he follows you in a relaxed manner.
Step 3: Still blindfolded, have him step down the first step or two into the basement. Put a smelly treat on your fingers to disguise the basement smell.
Step 4: Let him come back up if and give the praise and the treat.
Step 5: Keep working to go further down until you get to the bottom. Praise/treat each time.
Step 6: Lead him around the basement. Then take off the blindfold and give praise/ treat. Stay down there a little while before heading back up.
Step 7: Still on lead, make sure he follows you up the stairs going back and does not go in front of you.
Step 8: Immediately try and get him to go down by following you into the basement again, using a lead and super attractive treat.

With a fearful dog, the trick is to gain trust and so you have to go much more slowly than a dog that is just eager to please you...


Visitors, do you have any suggestions for Noel? Please add them in the Comments section below.

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Homemade dog toy question

by Jake
(England)

Question:

If you have a homemade dog toy and your dog doesn't like it what should you do?



Answer:

Dogs, like people, have preferences and these should be honored. Never force your dog to try and like a homemade dog toy or play with it if he or she clearly indicates that there is no interest or if they show they dislike it. After all, how do you like it when someone tells you you ought to like something that you know you don't?

This is not to say that you cannot try to entice your dog to enjoy a toy. For example, for chew toys, a little dab of peanut butter can often get your dog to try them. Then once they realize how this new type of toy works and how much fun it is, the dog may be willing to play with another one or be willing to try something completely different.

Also, many dogs are bred for certain things. For example, Retrievers have been bred to fetch and carry things in their mouths. On the other hand, German Shepherds and Collies were bred for herding and may not be interested in fetching.

We can only get Comet to fetch when he is really bored, and then only for a little while. He prefers to simply chase things, due to his strong prey drive. That is why his all-time favorite toy has been the Whipwhir. However, he is showing less interest in it since he would rather chase live cats than anything, even though we have tried to teach him that these are not toys for his amusement.

So what it boils down to is getting to know your dog, your dog's likes and dislikes, and the inclinations of your dog's breed, if your dog is purebred. Even if your dog is a mixed breed, you can still learn what he or she prefers and what seems to be instinctive.

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What To Do With An Energetic Puppy?

Question:

Ok so I have a black lab puppy and he has alot of energy! I don't always have time to walk him..... but I don't want to give him away. So my question to you is how do I get rid of his energy?

Answer:

The key is exercise. There are many different ways to exercise your dog other than to walk him or play fetch. Two options that can be done in a relatively small space inside the home or in a backyard area are to make a Whipwhir a.k.a. as a "whipper" because you whip the toy around very quickly, or a build a dog treadmill.

Note that you will need to follow the precautions for the Whipwhir carefully - make sure to warm your dog up by having him run in a wide circle before you start changing direction and he starts any twisting motions. This particular dog exercise toy is also a good way for your dog to learn to "leave it" or "drop it."

For the treadmill, if you have a motorized one for human use, note that it is NOT recommended for dogs because fur tends to get in the motor and foul it up. Special motorized dog treadmills tend to be very expensive. If you already have a manual one for people, you may be able to use it for your black Lab, otherwise you can order a set of our plans to build your own (note - people weighing less than 200 lbs can use it too).

You may need to teach your dog how to use the treadmill. Tie the dog with two leashes or ropes so that it can come forward to the front of the treadmill but not step off; then dangle a treat in front and encourage the dog to run. You may eventually not have to tie the dog in at all.

Another quicker way to give a dog a tiring workout (although we would not recommend this more than two times a week for a growing puppy because the ground will be hard on the dog's joints) would be to make our inexpensive bicycle attachment the B-loop and go for a ride, preferably in places where there is not much traffic.

Hope these ideas will get you started. Try to offer your dog variety - it's more fun for both of you and mentally stimulating as well. There are plenty of other fun things to do with a Lab such as skijoring, agility, dog powered scootering, and dock diving to name just a few. Check out our pages under exercise equipment and exercise options for more information.

Best wishes,
Jo

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