When a bad experience happens to your dog there are good chances that your pup might develop a fear associated with that experience. It could be fear of stairs, fear of men, fear of kids, fear of your car etc.
In the following example Lassie (I´ve changed the dog´s name for privacy) developed fear of stairs because he fell. When this happens don’t feel sorry or pity for your pup. Or just keep it to yourself and when you get over it start helping your pup 😉 Make sure he or she is not injured and don’t wait to start helping him or her to overcome it.
There’s nothing wrong with getting emotional, I get emotional too. But once you decide to help your pup you have to overcome your emotions. You can get emotional later.
I must say that in this example I worked previously with Lassie´s mom on Leash Communication, energy and body language.
Question: (Lassie´s Mom)
¨We recently put up child gates at our stairs. This past Wednesday, after the gates had been up for about a week, Lassie ran right into the gate and then partially fell down the stairs. I wasn’t home, but my husband was and he said that Lassie then tried again to run through the gate and he feel down the stairs again. He did not have any physical injuries, but now he is terrified of the stairs. He will run downstairs, but he will not come up unless I literally carry him. He’ll be shaking as he reaches the top. I feel so awful! Things that usually trigger him to dash upstairs aren’t working (treats, his dinner. the doorbell ringing).
Do you have any advice for what we can do??¨
¨There is a couple of things you can do. The first thing to do is to know if he is afraid of the stairs or of the gate. This is very important.
If it´s the gate: Remove the gate and walk Lassie upstairs on the leash. Do it a couple of times. If you are in the middle of the stairs and he is still a little bit unsure go down and try it again. Kind of like baby steps. Once he is comfortable doing that, do the same but with the gate. Once he can do it with the gate several times try to do it without the leash.
If it´s the stairs, make sure you put a rug or something that ´s not slippery on the stairs. Put him in the middle of the stairs (carry him) and block the way down with a gate. So the only way is up. Do baby steps until he is comfortable doing it alone the whole stairs.
Use the leash communication we went over when I first saw you. Don´t drag him, but don´t let him fly away. Be very calm and confident yourself. Think this way while you are helping him: you know he can do it, because this is something new. You just need to remove the fear.
Let me know how it goes. I´m confident you can figure it out! – Have a great day!¨
Lassie´s Mom – :
¨ IT WORKED! The minute we did the stairs with the leash, he was then able to do them on his own. Thank you so much!¨
The reason why it worked so fast is because Lassie´s Mom already new how to communicate with the leash, with her body language and energy. What’s funny is that she first tried with external tools like treats, dinner or even the door bell and didn’t think about what she already learnt, which comes from within.
This is just one example of the importance of mastering leash communication and the walk. Your body language and energy is much more powerful than what you think when you know what you are doing.
© Gabriel Riesco, Brooklyn, NY December 2017