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Hi Guys,

My golden Luna, is almost 7 months old. From the beginning she had a bit of fear to go up and down the stairs, but soon at around 4 months she was doing it fine.

Now, she has so much fear of it and won't go even with treats, I literally had to, when going up the stairs, put her legs step from step, and she is very heavy already.

Now when going down, then it is a nightmare, she pees or fear, no treat can make her come down, so we go up and help (forcing) her go from step to step to, but on the second step she throws herself (flying) until the ground. If we don't help her she just sits there forever.

It's so scary, its a 8 step stair, and I feel like she will break a leg sooner than later.

I live on a basement so we must go through the stairs to leave and enter the house.

She has been doing that too on the backyard stairs, which is also very very high.

Can you guys please help me out, let me know how can I fix this before she is all broken and then she will have a reason for trauma?!

Thank you,
 

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Are the stairs slippery? Maybe she needs a surface that will give her some traction. I had a Golden once who had issues with slick wooden steps.
 

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Have you spoken to your vet or a licensed behavioral trainer? That level of fear is pretty uncommon in a Golden her age. I've never heard of a dog being that afraid of stairs. And you're right to worry about her jumping down 8 steps, she could really hurt herself.
 

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I wonder if she hurt herself on the stairs and you may not have noticed and now she sees the steps as a bad place.
 

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Dogs go through a second "fear period" around the age of your dog (6 to 10 months). This may be your problem.

Normally you'd simply avoid the thing causing the fear, until the fear period goes away, but in this case you can't because you have to go up and down the stairs to get into and out of your home. And you're right, she will hurt herself by jumping down the stairs like that.

Look up "counter-conditioning" and "desensitization". This will give you some ideas that might work in your specific situation. Maybe try the treats again (very high value treats such as cooked chicken or cheese), to lure her, one step at a time? Start by going up, then she's not tempted to throw herself down the stairs, and be very patient and upbeat. It might take you an hour to get her to do one step, but it's important that she ventures onto the step of her own accord, and is not forced by you. Start by rewarding if she just approaches the step. Then place the treat on the bottom step. Then place it higher, so she has to put her front feet on the bottom step to reach it. And so on.

Is it just your stairs, or all stairs, that are the problem? If it's just your stairs, it may be the surface that's triggering the fear. In any case, you have nothing to lose by changing the surface. If it's wood, concrete or metal, buy some carpet risers to put on each step. Make sure the new surface isn't slippery and is fixed in place so it doesn't move. Also, you could maybe try and find a small staircase somewhere else - three or four steps, at the home of a friend or relative - and practise with that, using high-value treats. If you do this, make sure it's not a slippery surface.

My dog went through a severe fear period as an adolescent. One thing we did when we found ourselves in situations that triggered his fear was to do familiar things that he liked. He loves obedience training, so we would often do his obedience exercises (walk to heel with attention, sit, stand, lie down, etc.) near the thing that was frightening to him. It gave him something to focus on other than his fear. This might work for your dog. Or maybe playing a game she enjoys, on or near the stairs (tugging, retrieving, chasing you, etc.). It's important for you to stay relaxed and not make a big thing out of it. Stay upbeat, always be encouraging. It's difficult, but you're going to have to be very patient.

You might also consider calling in a trainer who uses positive methods, for help.

Best of luck, hope it works out for you.
 
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Hello! My pup, Zirkel, was also afraid of the stairs up until around 4 months. One way I got him over this fear this was by making it into a game. It was totally a mental block for Zirkel and I think the game helped him get out of that thinking. We used the "find it!" game -- have you ever heard of it? It's the beginnings of nose work and basically a game where you hide treats around the house and then tell your pup to "find it" using his nose. (Starting easy with 2-3 treats within sight, then graduating to hiding 2-3 out of sight) Anyway, Zirkel was very familiar with this game when I got the idea to play "find it" on the stairs. Instead of being the scary stairs, he was simply playing the game he's played so many times before. On the small set of stairs he was fearful of, it worked immediately. Of course, you will need to get Luna familiar with the game away from the stairs before you try it on them, but it's worth a shot! And if nothing else, you have a fun new game that's mentally great too :)
 
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