How to Teach Your Dog to Calmly Ride in an Elevator
While socializing your dog as a puppy helps to ensure that he gets along well with people, pets, and other dogs, it also ensures that he grows up to be a well-adjusted adult dog. Dogs that are poorly socialized as puppies tend to greet new things and unfamiliar situations with fear rather than curiosity – this is often the case with dogs that are afraid of elevators. Here’s how to cure your dog’s fear of elevators.
A Step-by-Step Guide for Curing Elevator Fear
If your dog has already developed a fear of elevators, forcing him to ride the elevator won’t do any good – he’ll still be terrified and you’ll be frustrated. The best thing you can do is work with your dog to desensitize him or cure him of his fear. Here are some simple steps to take:
- Stand with your dog outside the elevator and press the button.
- When the elevator arrives and dings, give your dog some verbal praise along with a treat – this will help to curb any negative association with the noise the elevator makes.
- When the elevator door opens, walk calmly into it and give a gentle tug on the leash to encourage your dog to come in behind you.
- Press the “door open” button to keep the elevator door from closing – stay in the elevator for a second or two and then calmly exit.
- Once you’ve left the elevator, praise your dog and give him a small treat.
- Repeat the sequence a few times until your dog is a little bit calmer entering and exiting the elevator before you move to the next step.
- Bring your dog into the elevator and wait for several seconds before you leave – work your way up to longer periods inside the elevator, praising and rewarding your dog each time you leave.
- Next, wait a few seconds inside the elevator and then press the “door close” button – if your dog stays calm, praise and reward him.
- Repeat the sequence until your dog stays calm when the elevator doors close.
- The next step is to take the elevator up or down a floor – praise and reward your dog when he does well by staying calm.
- As an added step, you can also try feeding your dog a meal in the elevator while it is moving.
- If your dog needs further encouragement, try taking another dog in the elevator with him.
As you work with your dog to cure him of his fear of elevators, you should be aware that he will be looking to you for cues the entire time. The last thing you want to do is act in a way that tells your dog that he is right to be afraid of the elevator – you want to display an air of calm and confidence, hoping that your dog will catch some of it. Avoid using baby talk or an overly excited voice when praising your dog in the first couple of steps – use your normal tone of voice. If your dog reacts with fear the first couple of times you run this sequence, don’t coddle him – remain steadfast and keep working through the steps.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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