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Teach Your Senior Dog to Use a Ramp or Stairs

- Provided by VetStreet.com
Susan Norwood / Alamy

It's important to practice obedience work and tricks with senior pets, but it is also essential to train your canine to cope with the aging process. This involves both lifestyle changes and the use of portable stairs and ramps, which help geriatric pets get on and off elevated areas safely and easily.

Stairs are useful when placed next to stationary resting areas, such as the bed or couch. Ramps are portable and can fold up, which makes them ideal for getting in and out of the car. Choose ramps and stairs with an anti-skid surface, which gives your dog’s paws something to grip and makes him less likely to slip or jump off the edge.

Use positive reinforcement to teach your dog to use a ramp or stairs; this will make the experience more enjoyable for your pet and will make him more likely to use these tools with confidence even when you are not around.

Ramp Training

Ramps can be adjusted for height depending on the object they are resting on, which makes it easy for them to be used at a more gradual incline when first training. During initial training, practice by laying the ramp on a stable, flat area where it won’t slide, such as in the grass or on carpet. Teach your dog to follow a treat as you lure him across the flat ramp.

Treat him initially for putting one paw up on the ramp. Next, treat him for placing two paws up on the ramp. Progressively move the treat toward the middle of the ramp. As soon as all four paws are up, reward your dog with treats as he follows your hand across the ramp to the other end. The goal is to have your pet follow the treat in your hand from one end of the ramp to the other.

If your dog jumps off the ramp, move him back to the beginning of the ramp and restart at an easier level, such as treating him for sniffing the ramp or putting up one paw.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:

 

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency during normal business hours, please call us immediately. If you have an emergency outside of our normal business hours, please contact a local emergency animal hospital.

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