In this video, Bulldog puppy Rugo masters the stairs with help from friends. One of them is Meaty, another Bulldog in the family. Rugo’s owner is cheering him on, encouraging him to try the stairs. Meaty is so wonderful. When he sees Rugo feeling scared coming down the stairs, he goes down the stairs first to show Rugo how easy it is. Then he walks back up the stairs, a couple of steps below Rugo, to be a support for him.
Rugo is inspired by Meaty. Actually Meaty is more responsible for encouraging Rugo to take those huge steps. Each of those step is the height of Rugo. He’s smart to be hesitant. And even when he is following Meaty’s encouragement to come down the stairs, he was half sliding down. There are more gentle ways to teach puppies about using the stairs.
How to teach a puppy to go down the stairs
It’s easier to teach a puppy to go up the stairs than down. It’s counter intuitive even to humans to plunge downward head first. For steps that are much higher than a puppy can handle, start with something like a book. Or two books. That’s a much more gradual learning curve. When the pup feels comfortable going up and coming down that short step, add one more book, and keep increasing until the puppy feels comfortable.
When the stack of books is almost the same height as the step he will be climbing, then the pup might be ready to try the stairs again. And use treats and praise to build him up with every tiny success. If the puppy is reluctant at any point, do not push him.
End the training session on a positive note. Have him do something that you know he can do easily so he feels successful. Start the next training session with something easy so he feels successful, and work from there. Make the training fun, not work. Puppies like fun. Make a game out of it. They’ll probably learn the task you want without even knowing that they are doing it. If you enjoy this video, you might also enjoy this one.