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Please Help- our puppy won't use the stairs

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Laura1991, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. Laura1991

    Laura1991 New Member Registered

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    Hi, my name is Laura and we (my partner and I) bought a 7 month old German Shepherd yesterday. I have just joined this forum because we are VERY stuck and don't know what to do.
    Roman is absolutely beautiful and has the loveliest temperament, however, he was not allowed to use the stairs with his previous owner and therefore, has NEVER attempted to use them. Unfortunately, we live in a large second floor flat with quite a lot of stairs and we are getting worried because he is used to going to the toilet outside and won't use the stairs. Although he is huge, (weighs 37 kilos) at first, Glenn was able to pick him up and carry him. Now he's become petrified of being picked up because he associates this action with the stairs and will wee if Glenn tries to pick him up. He is also associating his lead with the stairs and now won't let us put his lead on him. We have put down puppy pads, but he won't use these either (although he is eating and drinking well, will take treats and went for a poo inside the flat tonight). We had a trainer in this morning who managed to get him down a couple of stairs. Does anyone know how to get him up or down the stairs? Will he be okay with the puppy pads, as I contacted his previous owner and she thought it would send him backwards? The trainer thought he would get there in his own time (with some help) and suggested using the pads for the time being. I am so worried that we are traumatising him, we couldn't ask for a better trained pup, I am so stressed. Will he wee more when he's settled? PLEASE any advice at all would really help. Fortunately, I teach from home, so I will be here all the time. However, even if he would let me, I am not strong enough to pick him up, whilst Glenn is at work. Im also thinking of getting another trainer in tomorrow? Sorry for the long post, I would be immensely grateful for ANY suggestions.
    Laura
     
  2. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    Will he step up onto anything? - any raised surface? --- the sofa, a low step-stool in the kitchen, a rigid suitcase laid on its side?... anything at all?

    I'd start by teaching him "Up" onto any sturdy, low, elevated surface, on cue, using a marker - a clicker is perfect if U have one; if not, a ballpoint pen with a loud click will substitute, or use an LED penlight, a "thumb-up" hand signal, or any other UNIQUE sound or sign.
    It can't be something that occurs in ordinary convo, or is seen / heard multiple times a day.

    A marker serves as the shutter on the camera, capturing the Kodak moment - the better Ur timing, the quicker the learner gets the idea of what's being rewarded, at this moment [what's rewarded can change, in the next moment - if we are SHAPING, we slowly raise the bar & get closer to our goal-behavior by using step by step approximations; the better U are at slicing the behavior into tiny steps that are easily achieved, & making the behavior gradually approach the ideal of that goal behavior thru those easy steps, the faster the learner progresses].

    Markers are a mechanical skill B4 they're a communicative device - practice accuracy while away from the dog, so the chosen marker doesn't become mere noise, but retains its signaling power.

    The sort of exercise platforms that can be stacked, flat, one atop another, would be perfect as training "steps". They usually come in sets of 3 or 4. Using a lure [a tasty, smelly tidbit, wafted under his nose] & my chosen marker, i'd get him to step up onto the largest, lowest ONE, laid on the floor, & as he follows the lure & steps up, CLICK! or flash or thumbs-up... TREAT, repeat 2 or 3X, then add the next step, & using the lure, ask him to step on the upper one, MARK / treat, repeat once or twice, add the 3rd layer, etc. // By the time we've done it 5X, i'd be working with an empty hand, but using the identical luring motion as i did with a tidbit in my hand; this prevents the dog from getting hooked on the lure, as it's only used in very early stages.
    Once he's up, i'd then get him relaxed on that elevated surface - give him a cue that he knows, such as 'sit', & mark / jackpot him when he does it, or just mark & reward ANYTHING he does that's "not-stress": relaxing his body, opening his stance, lifting his head & / or tail, a deep breath, a sigh, his mouth opening [mouth clamped shut is a very early stress signal], his tongue lolling over his incisors... anything at all.


    Teaching you dog how to Sit, Down, and Stand, on Cue, using Lure & Reward Training
    by DomesticatedManners - 24K views; 7 years ago
    Teaching your dog how to sit, down, and stand, on hand signals & verbal cues, using a lure.
    [​IMG] 6:28


    Dog training Tutorial: Fading a Lure (while teaching SPIN)
    Dog Training by Kikopup - 42K views; 8 years ago
    This is a quick how-to video I made for a you-tube user who said they were having trouble getting rid of the lure. I hope to make a ...


    - terry

    .
     
  3. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    there's also:

    [​IMG] . 1:21
    Teaching Our Foster Greyhound to Climb Up Stairs - Greyhound Friends of NJ
    George Sanders - 9.9K views; 4 years ago
    Teaching a Greyhound to go up stairs is literally one-foot-after-another. The human stays behind the dog to help give her/him ...

    [​IMG] 1:12
    Greyhound Learns the Stairs
    Matthew Coffin - 3.1K views; 4 years ago
    Our retired racing greyhound learns all about stairs. With a little training help from his friends...



    [​IMG] . 0:54
    Greyhounds Climb Stairs with Two Different Personalities
    JustMine - 7.4K views; 1 year ago
    My two greyhounds climb stairs differently, and it demonstrates their personalities! (Plus, a bonus intruder at the end....) When I ...


    - terry

    .
     
  4. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Just to add to the above, do you have a balcony? If so, a shallow wooden box with a layer of soil and then turf from the garden centre would be a lot better than puppy pads. Pads confuse the dog about whether toileting indoors is acceptable and I agree with the breeder that they set dogs back in toilet training.

    For taking him downstairs, i would agree luring him with fabulous treats is the best approach but i also would make sure you are always a step or two below him so he sees you are there to stop him fallyng into what must seem like an awful abyss.
     
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  5. Mad Murphy

    Mad Murphy Well-Known Member Registered

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    I have to say we carried Murphy up and down stairs until he was a year.. Admittedly he was only 20kilos.
    Big dogs do suffer hip problems so the longer you wait with stairs the better but you are in a flat so I suppose waiting isnt an option. In that case the gentle approach is best. As @JoanneF has mentioned blocking the view of the entire staircase is a good idea using really high value treats to let you lead him down a few steps and gradually build on that same with going up the stairs a few high value treats placed on the stairs with one person above tempting him and one behind to make sure there are no accidents should help get him up.
     
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  6. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    Well hi and welcome. And you've had some good advice already here. Hmmm...dogs are a real source of amazement! Firstly you obviously understand how frightened he is so that's the absolute best thing you can do for him! People often claim dogs are being naughty when it's always fear. And GSD's are really clever sensitive dogs too. Most things can be accomplished by the ignoring/ reward combo, I find. I know it's a REALLY difficult situation but if you can tough it out for a few days and let him calm down it'll help- he's had a real shock by moving house and owners. If you can find a favourite treat - as suggested- you might try sitting on quietly the stairs and putting the treat on the first one down. Don't speak don't watch him- take a book with you. If it doesn't work try again later. Don't try too much at a time. Next day put a treat on top step and second step - and so on...say nothing even if it works. In his head stairs are now a huge deal so you need to let him think no one else is bothered!

    A bog heavy breed is always going to be cautious on stairs but patience often will do the trick and help them get their confidence back. Good luck.
     
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  7. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    Sorry! No offence to your boy- that should real big!:oops:
     
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  8. Laura1991

    Laura1991 New Member Registered

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    Thank you all so much, these comments are really helpful. I am SO glad I joined this forum! Roman is a lot more settled today in general. Although he had been taught not to climb on anything, he did actually put his front paws up on the sofa today and half lifted himself up (back paws on the floor) to look out of the window. We did buy a clicker yesterday and have been clicking it and giving him treats whenever he does something good. Tonight we managed to repeat this exercise four times and Glenn said he put his front paws down onto the first step from the landing! Yay! Our plan tomorrow is to find more objects to practice on, I'm sure we have a suitcase or something as we only moved in 3 months ago. Thank you Terry! This is a brilliant idea. I will also have a look online for some training stackable steps. The trainer did offer us her plastic steps but unfortunately they were too small for him. I have just changed my avatar so you can see a picture of him, as I wasn't sure how to upload a photo. He's enormous already, I'm not sure how much bigger he is likely to get (he doesn't look overweight and has lots of puppy fur on its way out). Although his paperwork states that he is a GSP, we are starting to wonder if he might be a King Shepherd? After a bit of research and a lot of people stopping us in the street and asking what he is, when they themselves own GSP's. Any ideas? We are prepared for the long process... we went into In Excess Garden Centre this afternoon and they kindly offered to make us up a large wooden pallet with some good quality fake grass on the top with polythene sandwiched between. Do you think this will work? We will also buy some of those rock things? As I've heard its good to soak up wee? Unfortunately we don't have a balcony. We have had to put a puppy pad down for tonight, as scrubbing the carpet is getting a bit difficult with arthritis, but we will be picking up the grass box tomorrow afternoon, so hopefully that won't confuse him too much. Great idea, thank you JoanneF! We have also purchased some expensive treats, which are only given out when he puts his paws up on the sofa or on the stairs. He can definitely tell the difference. Yes Merlina, he is very sensitive, smart and just genuinely scared of the stairs. We haven't forced him today at all and he's now getting used to having the door open to the landing and just sitting there, which we are rewarding him for in moderation. I have also put a large mirror on the corner today, so that he can see all the way down, as the trainer did manage to get him to go down the last few stairs when he could see the bottom. I know you suggested shutting parts of it off, but he does seem happier knowing he can see Glenn or I when we walk in Do you think this will help? We are thinking that now he can see down, if I sit halfway down with a book like you suggested Merlina, he might come down with his favourite treats on the stairs. You right he probably would feel like falling into an abyss. I will keep you all updated and any other tips would be awesome.
     
  9. Josie

    Josie Administrator Administrator Registered

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    I’m glad you’ve received lots of great advice @Laura1991 - we’re very lucky on here with amazing members.

    If you’d like to upload a video you need to click on ‘upload a file’ which can be found under post reply.
    Once you’ve uploaded your photo click ‘full image’ (this appears next to photo)

    It’s not essential to click ‘full image’ if you don’t the image will just stay small.

    Hope that helps!
     
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