RSS Feed

Stair Climbing for Puppies

Baby Cricket, confused by the stairs

Baby Cricket, confused by the stairs

            When Cricket was a tiny puppy, she had to learn how to climb the stairs. My bedroom is in the attic and Grandma’s room is one floor down, and baby Cricket just couldn’t decide where to spend her time. She would stand at the top or the bottom of the stairs longing to be wherever she wasn’t.

            Her first attempts at climbing the stairs were harrowing. She managed to lift all four paws onto one step, and then the next, and the next, and then she looked down from the middle of the staircase and cried like a toddler at the top of a Ferris wheel. She was terrified, but she was also Cricket, which means relentless and determined. She willed herself up the stairs.

Baby Cricket, waiting to go up the stairs

Baby Cricket, waiting to go up the stairs

            I don’t remember how long it was before she developed a down-the-stairs strategy. Maybe we’d been watching skiing on TV, because she did the stairs like they were moguls, bumping her butt in the air with each jump.

Baby Cricket, exhausted from her travails

Baby Cricket, exhausted from her travails

            When Butterfly came home from the shelter in November, she had never used stairs before. She was scared to even climb up on the curb when we went out for a walk, let alone attempt the high hill of stairs up to our apartment. She worked on those curbs, seven times a day, until she was flying over them. But she needed some instruction with the stairs. I’d put her front paws on a step, then lift her midsection to show her how to make the next step. Up and up until she’d gone all the way up the stairs. We did this day after day until she started to place her paws all by herself.

Butterfly going up

Butterfly going up

            We assumed she would learn the down-the-stairs next, but nothing worked. I showed her a way to do the steps sideways, so she could fit her whole self on each step and not have to look down. But as soon as I let go, she would scramble back up to the top as if her paws were on fire.

            We tried her on different types of steps, carpet and hard wood and concrete, higher rises and shorter rises, skinnier steps and wider steps. But nothing worked.

            This hasn’t stopped her from climbing up every staircase she sees, though. There’s a never ending staircase at the local beach, and she tries to run up high and higher, without any thought of how she’s going to get back down. Some magic angel will make it happen, even if that angel is Mommy and groaning the whole way.

            I had to put a pet gate in the doorway to my room, to stop her from running up there and barking to be brought back down, or worse, staying up there alone for hours. Before I had the bright idea to block my door-less doorway, I had to do a lot of puppy retrieval, climbing stairs endlessly to make sure she had access to food and water and a place to pee. But as soon as I move the pet gate, she comes running from wherever she is in the apartment, even if her head is buried in her food bowl, just to run up those stairs.

Butterfly going up, again!

Butterfly going up, again!

                      Cricket thinks this is hilarious.

Advertisements

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

53 responses »

  1. How long has Butterfly been doing this? What an obsession!

    Reply
    • She has even started doing this when we go outside! She begs and pleads to go out to pee, I carry her down two flights of stairs and put her on the long lead on the front lawn, and within seconds, she’s up on the porch again, no pee in sight. Kooky little miss.

      Reply
  2. Good one…stairs are a trip for puppies…very mysterious!

    Reply
  3. Butterfly can always get a job with Government.

    Reply
  4. Very cute and very funny!

    Reply
  5. But of course – stairs are things to go up. Humans are for getting back down without dying of fright!
    Have you seen a video which did the rounds of a mother dog painstakingly persuading her pup to venture down the stairs – and then a mother cat giving her kitten a swat in the rump as a way of starting it down?

    Reply
  6. I’m with cricket :o) The last picture is great, with her paw “in motion” :o)

    Reply
  7. Giggles…my, you’ve come a long way sweet baby cricket…you have such a wonderful mommy!!!! Such a pleasure to see how love can heal…I am cracking up…I can hear her barking from the top of the stairs now…Your legs must be in great shape though…she is a little furry trainer…Ha Ha!!!! Have a wonderful week!!!!

    Reply
    • Cricket would love to have a career as a trainer of humans. Training them to bring her cheese. Training them to walk her ten miles a day. But she’s the tough love kind of trainer, lots of yelling!

      Reply
  8. The pictures of Butterfly’s fluffy little hiney heading up the stairs are precious! I just love them. And Cricket is beyond adorable.

    Teaching pups to conquer the stairs is a challenge. I think getting them to master going down is even harder than convincing them to go up. I had to work with both of my dogs when they were puppies. One of them was terrified of the stairs and would try to run the opposite direction whenever we tried to get her to go up or down. The other dog isn’t terrified of the stairs, but he’s a spaniel — so he tends to approach all new situations with a certain amount of cautious reserve. Stairs were no exception to this rule. Both of my dogs now bound up and down the stairs constantly, but I spent a lot of time carrying them up and down when they were pups. 🙂

    Reply
    • Butterfly is finally handling the outside steps, but the long stairways indoors, with carpeting, are awful. For some reason, she flies down the last steps and almost hits the wall. which leads to me screeching and her never wanting to do that again. We are a work in progress.

      Reply
  9. Pingback: Day 14 of APRIL BLOG LOVE CHALLENGE | Linda's New Garden & Wildlife Journey

  10. Luz Maria did not do the stairs to our basement family room until she was three and a half years old. She was intimidated by the number of steps (14) and the darkness of the stairwell. Diego, on the other hand, was fearless at three months and attempted the impossible stairs. He made his first descent with some difficulty due to his minute size but that only made him more determined. They both fly up and down the stairs multiple times a day now.

    I so enjoy reading about your pups because I can picture it all and laugh out loud. Thanks for this week’s installment. : )

    Reply
  11. So cute puppies

    Reply
  12. awww we have the opposite problem now, our two are getting on and one of them had very expensive surgery earlier this year because of probably some kind of fall (it was a disc in the neck surgery!) and so now we have to carry them up and down the stairs even though they are used to tearing up and down themselves!

    poor doggies, we’ve had to install kiddy gates so that they don’t tear up and down and hurt themselves again!

    They are dachshunds, which is the issue, short little legs…

    Reply
    • I’ve been hearing a lot about Dachshunds and their vulnerable spines lately, but they’re so cute. Maybe they could wear those Thunder Jackets or waist slimmers to keep them stable? I’d probably do well to wear something like that myself. We have a pet gate too, to keep Cricket from seeing the mailman through the front door. I’m surprised she hasn’t hurt herself the way she hurls herself at that door!

      Reply
      • yea, its was real shocking! we were on holiday and got a call from our dog sitter (who is a good friend thankfully) saying that our baby was just lying on his side whimpering. So off to the emergency vets (over Christmastime as always!) and it was a disc had ruptured!!

        apparently also affects beagles and corgis

  13. Our pups have been having a terrible time with the stairs, so I can really relate to this story! Thanks for checking out my blog….yours is great!

    Reply
  14. This is adorable! Such a sweet name as well for such a sweet little puppy!

    Reply
  15. Bless her cottons…they really do have such quirky individual ways…Doc the fox terrier does a silent stealth very slow tip toe to the water bowl..only the one in the dining area.everyu other one he’s like a piggy at a trough 🙂 lovely story and thanks for liking my Canine community members post..hope you drop in again 🙂

    Reply
    • Is the fox terrier the breed that looks like a lamb mixed with a grandpa? I’m in love with that dog. Butterfly does the piggy at the trough business when she eats. She actually uses her nose to push the food she doesn’t want out of the bowl so she can get to the good stuff. These guys are endless entertainment.

      Reply
      • Hilarious description…no i don’t think so …i think you saw a pic of him on my blog digging for termites,it’s also his bottom sticking out on my gravatar pic lol….they are entertaining indeed love them to bits 🙂

  16. Simple solution. I don’t mind going *up* the stairs but not *down* the stairs. Just like your baby. Put in a little slide at the top of the stairs. That way problem solved – you can ‘slide’ down. Of course, not me 🙂 , you might like that too much and go upstairs just to slide downstairs repeatedly. Not that I would know anything about that might I add – wink snort. XOXO – Bacon

    Reply
  17. I’m with Cricket. ROFB (rolling on floor Barking)

    Reply
  18. Adorable Baby Cricket curled up in her bed.

    Reply
  19. Maybe food rewards would help….:)

    Reply
  20. Just tweeted this and two other of your wonderful posts 🙂

    Reply
  21. Just tweeted this and another four. I hope it brings results 🙂

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: