Apr 22, 2016

Posted by in Articles, Home & Garden | Comments Off on Spiral Staircases and Dogs: Tips for Owners Who Want to Help Their Dogs Climb These Stairs

Spiral Staircases and Dogs: Tips for Owners Who Want to Help Their Dogs Climb These Stairs

Dogs and spiral staircases don’t always work together. However, with a few modifications to your stairs and a bit of training for your dog, you can easily help your dog navigate spiral stairs. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Focus on big treads and small risers.

If you are installing a new spiral staircase, select one with as wide of treads as possible. The tread is the step itself, and if it is too small, it can be hard for dogs to navigate. Also, focus on short risers, the distance between each tread.

Typically, when climbing or descending stairs, dogs have two options. Often, they put their front legs and back legs on different stairs and stretch their body between several stairs. Short risers help make this easier.

Alternatively, some dogs, especially small ones, climb and descend stairs one at a time. They put their front and back paws on the same step. Then, they pull their front paws to the next tread and follow with their back paws. This method is much easier if the treads on your stairs are as wide as possible to accommodate all four of their furry little paws.

If your spiral staircase is already installed, focus on training your dog to climb along the outside of the staircase. This is the area where the treads are usually the widest.

2. Cover open risers.

Many spiral staircases do not have risers. Rather, they are just open. Although open stairs look great, they can be disconcerting to some dogs, especially anxious dogs who may feel prone to falling through the gaps.

You can cover the gaps in an open staircase by having a staircase manufacturer make risers for each individual step. These are installed on the back of each step, and once they’re installed, you can carpet or stain them as needed.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to permanently modify your staircase, consider covering each open space with cloth. Cut a piece to size, and tack or tape it in place on the back of each tread. Make sure to secure it in the back of the stairs. That hides loose bits of fabric so they don’t become a tripping hazard for you or your dog.

3. Add extra railings.

Australian building codes necessitate that staircases have railings or balustrades in most cases. As a result, when you climb a spiral staircase, you should feel safely nestled between the wall, the railing, and even the pole in the middle of the staircase if there is one. Your dog, however, may not feel so nestled and safe.

Try to think about it from your dog’s’ angle, and get on your hands and knees so you can see exactly what he sees when he climbs your stairs. If there are a lot of gaps between your balusters, add more of them. Also consider adding an extra rail near the bottom to reduce the gap between the bottom of the railing and the stair itself.

Alternatively, you can buy covers for railings. These close the gaps to make staircases safer for kids and pets.

4. Train your dog to feel comfortable on the stairs.

In addition to modifying your spiral stairs, you should also work on training your dog. Try enticing him up or down the stairs by placing a treat at the other end. Alternatively, if your dog knows recall commands, try a restrained recall.

Have a friend hold your dog at one end of the stairs. Go to the other end of the stairs and call him. When he gets really excited, your friend should let him go. Hopefully, he will bound up the stairs, and after a few times, it will feel like second nature to him.

If your dog continues to resist the stairs, place him in a sling. These fit around the dog’s body, and they have a handle for the owner to carry. They are primarily used to help owners carry aging dogs with limited mobility, but they can be used for training purposes like this as well.

While your dog is in the sling, slowly carry him up and down the stairs. Let his paws touch the last stair going up or down, and have him climb or descend that one on his own. After a few times safely ascending the stairs, he should be ready to tackle them on his own.

If he resists this method with lots of thrashing, barking or other fear cues, take him out of the sling. Then, contact a professional trainer for more tips, or consult with a staircase designer from a company like Tarosa Stairs Pty Ltd about more permanent dog-friendly modifications for your spiral staircase.

Comments are closed.