You might not think that you need to teach a dog to climb stairs. But sometimes you do.
Spud was crate trained and house-trained until she was a year old, but she never went upstairs. I've started bringing Spud into the house during the day, when I'm at home, to get her used to everyday domestic life. She follows me, or lays down and watches me, or brings me a sock from the laundry basket. But she was vexed by the stairs.
Training a food-oriented dog means you're already half way there. I sacrificed Mike's corned beef (he was saving it for lunch) and placed cut up pieces on stairs, each time encouraging Spud to climb another step.
It took a little time to master turning the corner -
Then it was just the final climb to the top -
I can totally do this..don't think about it...just run at it...eyes on the prize
Where I was waiting with more corned beef, and a huge pat for being so clever and brave.
Of course coming down the stairs was an entirely different concept. I worried if I put treats on the stairs, she would stop to eat them, trip over her own feet and end up in a heap at the bottom.
Mike's trousers were hanging on the bannister, so I borrowed the belt and looped it over her head - partly to encourage her forward and partly to stop her doing a superhero leap to clear all the stairs in a single bound.. After some hesitant straddling, a foot in each corner, she lunged for the bottom. Not the definition of a controlled descent, but she did it.
We did two more trips up and down the stairs, with copious praise and tidbits. The last trip down the stairs she did all by herself without breaking any bones or speed records -
Other things that I have learned from experience to teach a dog early on: having its toe nails clipped, riding in a car, a command to stop barking, no chasing cats or chickens (even if you don't have them yourself), and the vacuum cleaner is nothing to be afraid of. I've added climbing stairs to my list.
Spud was such a quick learner that I still had time to whip up a bowl of soup, and some cheese on toast, before Mike got home for lunch. He agreed that his corned beef went to a good cause.
There are just as many dog stories I could tell you, where we didn't get it quite right. Hazel has been our biggest failure. Smart and well-bred, but reeling from some hard and inconsistent training before we adopted her at four years old. As a pet, she great - obedient, fun-loving, kid-friendly, and very affectionate. As a working dog, she had some very bad habits. And a full day's work invariably ended with Hazel limping on a sore shoulder.
Friends of ours just happen to be looking for an older spaniel, to keep as a pet and take on walks. Their children are growing up and want a dog the kids can cuddle and play fetch with. And they live on a big estate too. They may take her home with them this weekend.
Hazel - always ready for a game of fetch
I will miss Hazel. I've never given up a dog before. She deserves a pet home.