Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Walter update

A few days ago Walter turned 11 months old and still wouldn't go down the stairs.

Walter zooms up the stairs like a bullet, but wouldn't come down.  Spouse says that several months ago Walter fell down the stairs and has been afraid to go down them since.

For a while this seemed a little bit charming, carrying Walter down the stairs.  Later it became less convenient, especially when I had an armful of stuff to bring down stairs. And occasionally Walter would go up to the 3rd floor to sit on the arm of the sofa and look out the large window, requiring me to go up to the 3rd floor to retrieve him, and then come back down 2 flights of stairs. 

For a couple weeks I'd been suggesting to Spouse that we use treats to try and train Walter to come down the stairs.  I wanted Spouse to sit at the middle of the staircase to block Walter from going up as he'd down before, while I coaxed him down with treats.  Unfortunately Spouse didn't think this was a worthwhile pursuit.  So last Thurs as I contemplated Walter turning 11 months old, I was carrying him down the stairs and just decided to stop 1/2 way and put him on the stairs.  Previous attempts at this resulted in him scooting past me and running up to the top of the stairs.  But this time, he just scampered down the stairs!  I joined him at the bottom and gave him lots of verbal praise and head scratches.  Then we repeated the exercise, to make sure it wasn't just a fluke.  Again he scampered down the stairs with no coaxing and no lure of a treat.

For the next several days we repeated this from higher points of the staircase, all with success.  On Sat I encouraged Walter to come down the stairs from the top, without me placing him on the staircase, but he wouldn't come down from the top landing. So I picked him up, went down 1 stair, and placed him on the stair below me.  He scampered down.

Yesterday I came home from work and Spouse and both dogs were upstairs.  They heard me come in and Marvin came down the stairs to greet me.  The next thing I know Walter came down the stairs to greet me too.  I could hear the water on in the bathroom upstairs so I knew Spouse had NOT placed Walter on the stairs - he had finally decided to go down the stairs from the top landing on his own!  I think his fear that Marvin would get all the lovin' from Daddy was stronger than his fear to get down that top stair.  Once he'd done that, its almost as if a light went off in his head.  "I can do this."  He'd figured it out.

Since then Walter has gone down the stairs on his own several times.  He's gained his freedom, and our "little boy" is now a big boy.


Anonymous said...

Yay for Walter!!!


anne marie in philly said...

puppy milestones!

Anonymous said...

Please be aware that dogs traveling steps, no matter the size can get tiny whiplashes that hurt and are cumulatve over time. If he doesn't like going down (sorry that sound so suggestive) prevent him from going up the stair. His spine and the vet will thank you.

Biki Honko said...

Congrats Walter!!!!

Strangely enough one of our dogs when a puppy was afraid to go up the stairs! Coming down, no sweat, but going up was something she refused to do. She was an Akita, and destined to be a big girl, and hubby said we have to stop carrying her up the stairs because soon, she would be to big for most of us to carry up. We got her all excited, running around, getting love from the whole brood, and then en-mass ran upstairs, leaving her down stairs. She whined. She barked! And then whined more. But when hubby started tickling one of the kids, she had to be in on the action and ran up the stairs! Problem solved. Except she spent most of the next few days running up and down the stairs, nearly knocking me over several times. But that wee bit of danger was worth it, as she grew to be 90 lbs!