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Old 12-27-2010, 04:54 PM
2 posts, read 39,492 times
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We have a yellow lab breed that is about 100lbs, he is also 9 years old. When he was a pup he fell down the stairs and since then he has had sort of a phobia. Sometimes he will go down the stairs but only when its raining or if the stairs are drentched.But within the last 6 months, even pouring water on the steps will not work. He will hold his pee for upwards of 30 hours and WILL NOT pee in the house. We have tried almost everything and since he is a big dog is it almost impossible to carry a flailing dog up and down the stairs when needed. He shakes and pants and will not go down.

We have front stairs and a patio with the top level then a bottom level (my parents built that second level just so he wouldnt have such a hard time to get up and down, but alas). The front stairs consist of non-carpeted stairs, they are inside of our house and he has not gone over these stairs in years (my parents go through the back way with him and go through the back yard when bringing him to the car). Then there are the back steps. There is a sliding door and beyond that there is a patio approximately 7 feet by 14 feet (may be off) then there is 6 steps going down to a second level platform that is only 2 steps off the ground. Sometimes we cant even get him onto the patio so then he just pants and shakes.

He always loved going for walks but he cant go now. He always used to go every evening for a ride in the truck with dad, he cant go now. Not only is it a nuisance but it must be bad for his health, not pooping or peeing that long plus all that stress he obviously goes through. My parents are getting fed up and once dad even dragged him down (which i know is not good for his fear but it was good for his bladder). We wouldnt even that much of a problem with him peeing in an area of the house because this dog means the world to them.

So please, If you have any advice or ideas me and my family would really appreciate them. Thank you so much in advance.

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Old 12-27-2010, 05:37 PM
Location: Vermont, grew up in Colorado and California
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Going out on a limb here, but am curious if his eye sight is ok?
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Old 12-27-2010, 05:49 PM
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He's 100lb lab. I'll bet he has pain walking stairs. He's too big even for a lab. All of that weight is too much for his joints to handle.

Your parents are totally out of control for dragging him down the stairs.

Take your dog to a vet. Get him check out. My dog was practically disabled and now he's running around like a puppy now that he's taking medication.

Also, your dog needs to lose AT LEAST 15lbs, maybe 20lbs. He weighs way too much for a lab, even if he's a big lab.

If he's a smaller build (shorter, smaller head, etc.), he needs to lose even more weight. .
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Old 12-27-2010, 06:06 PM
Location: On the sunny side of a mountain
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I agree that he may have a medical problem and should see a vet.

In the meantime could your Dad build a stable carpeted ramp for him. Doesn't sound like a battle of wills is going to be won by the humans. Forcing a dog to do something he is afraid of will just end up with a scared and confused dog who doesn't to know why his people are angry with him. Positive reinforcement usually works better, a favorite treat or toy and praise for coming to you at the bottom of the stairs.
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Old 12-27-2010, 06:07 PM
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
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actually .... buddy-the-giant-lab who lived with me for 14 months was 98 lbs .... solid muscle ... no excess fat AT ALL.... just a big big boy..... i'm thinkin' the byber's are heading them in that direction...... because i KNOW that's where he originated.....
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Old 12-27-2010, 06:46 PM
Location: North Western NJ
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firstly id agree, medical check, have his hips, knees and elbows looked at, labs are prone to hip knee and elbow dysplasia and if he is that large itll just highten the risks
it could also be arthritis at 9...
pain is a very normal reason for dogs refuse to go up and down steps, its an abnormal movment for their joints and can be quite painfull.
id also have the eyesight checked.

if joint pain is rulled out then id say its likley fear based in which case the best course of action would be to build his confidence.

these steps whats the surface? plain concrete and wood are often "slippy" under a dogs paw, and a dog whos unsure added to a stability problem they will refuse, in these cases get some stair treds or old carpet and make step treads to give him a better grip.

id also personally find something he loves, a favorite toy (or being a lab), more likley a favorite treat...im not talking any treat im talking something incredibly highly sought after, hotdogs, boiled chicken and even liver snaps work well...
start slow, sit on the stairs with the treat, when his feet move down to that first step tell him good and treat, do this a few times. once he seems comofrtable, try moving down a step, again encourage, patients and treat once those front feet are on the step you want him to be on. praise like crazy. this will help build his confidence and see the stairs as something good.

and remember, dogs dont have the same kind of depth perception humans do, when they look down stairs (remember there also going head first) steps supposedly look ALOT steeper and alot further down than it does to the human perspective. so slowly building his confidence with great rewards will help him realize that while the steps my look/seem scary, they lead to good things.

good luck, its tough with big dogs.
but please rule out health issues before doing any training. steps/stairs are hard on dogs joints!
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Old 12-27-2010, 07:07 PM
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I do understand that it was not good to do, as do they, but just at the moment tempers flared. We take him to the vet regurlary and they said he needs to loose about ten lbs. Truthfully my parents need a wake up call. They do give him the best food but they feed it to him to many times a day.

We have tried to build up his confidence but its difficult, we have tried many approaches but all seemed to fail. We know that they are prone to some sort of movement problem but the vet ruled out the dysplacia. When he was a pup the vet did inform us that he has a "chipped elbow". This whole fear seems to come and go. If we try and fail to get him out he will be scared the rest of the day. But there is a chance he would succeed in the morning.

We have two labs in the house. The other one is a female so naturally a smaller dog. She is 50lbs and looks very healthy and sleek but even though the other one is a lot bigger he does seem to be a big overweight. Thank you all so much for the comments so far!
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:05 PM
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I have a "belly band) that is a padded strap I've put on my dogs who were unable to make the steps due to age/joints.
Also, my George wears a harness, not a collar, due to his turkey neck, and I will pull him up with that when needed, however, he only weighs 56 lb., and doesn't need to be pulled from fear, but from inability and bare floor.
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:36 PM
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One of the things you can do is to have one of you going down the stairs ahead of him,facing his direction.
So you would be going down backwards, right in front of puppy, step by step (be careful of course!). Each step of the way happily encouraging him.

Keep it steady. Try not to pause, keep your feet moving along wiht quiet , glad encouragement. Treats are perfectly fine. If you're going to use treats they need to be little treats, so you can keep it going. Dried liver training treats for ex.

When you stand in front of a dog, to some degree the image in his immediate area is limited to your physical self. Being in the way of the view- the down staircase - may be very helpful to him. This has helped many greyhounds get down the stairs and I hope it works for you and your dog too!

Even if he knows the down staircase is still there, he has the security of your physical body going in front. No one else should be on the stairs, no one behind him for example.
Best to be low key, happy, may even put the leash on while upstairs if that is helpful to getting him to getting him to the top of the stairs.

Last edited by nyfreesia; 12-27-2010 at 10:52 PM..
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:57 PM
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Would you consider carpeting the indoor stairs?
If the back door is where the patio stairs are, is the front entrance without steps but for the indoor stairs?
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