How to train your dog to use a dog ramp
By even considering to invest in a Dog Ramp, you have taken an awesome first step towards saving your dog from multiple potential health issues.
Whether your dog is old and needs a little help in getting on and off cars and Utes, or you have a smaller dog who likes to share the couch or you just want to be mindful of your dog’s spine and joints, our Dog Ramps will help you and your dog reach new heights!
This article will provide you with a step-by-step shaping approach to train your dog to use a ramp like a pro!
Step 1 – Make sure your dog is comfortable climbing up and down slopes in general
Some dogs are natural explorers and are comfortable with stairs, slopes and any kind of surfaces from the get go. Many others need to be conditioned and trained to get used to inclined surfaces.
To get your dog more comfortable while using the ramp, introduce them to in as many sloped places as possible like hills, wheelchair accessible ramps, sloped streets, etc.
Conditioning your dog to easily manoeuvre inclines will help him take to the ramp in no time.
Step 2 – Introduce the ramp at home.
Pets can take a while to get adjusted to foreign items, especially something that directly concerns them. At times, just the sight and sound of the object might intimidate your dog. Once you get the ramp, take time to make sure your dog is comfortable in its presence.
- Lay it down flat on the ground at home and give lots of treats for being calm around the ramp.
- Let your dog get used to just walking on a flat ramp. Use a leash and treats to lure your dog from one end to the other
- Play games that require your dog to walk from one end of the ramp to the other. This will help your dog get on and off the ramp without putting in much thought.
- Add a cue for effective communication
Step 3 – Incline it very gradually
Place the dog ramp in the area where you want to use it. If your dog is comfortable going up and down, that’s great!!
If not, consider reducing the incline. Place one side of the ramp on the floor and the other on a lower surface and get your dog to use it. Once your dog feels comfortable, gradually increase the incline.
Step 4 – Be mindful while the dog is getting down
Some dogs can get a little nervous while getting down from elevated surfaces. While most dogs jump up on surfaces like couches and climb up on stairs, getting off/ down can be bit of a challenge.
This fear could be attributed to a lot of reasons – medical conditions, fear of being on the edge while coming down, vertigo, past traumatic experience, lack of previous exposure, etc.
If you have a dog that is reluctant to come down the ramp, you have to counter condition him, meaning, change his existing response and teaching an alternate response to a trigger. Here are a few tips to counter condition your dog to come down the ramp –
- Make a line of tasty treats right till the bottom and let your dog eat his way down
- Use the leash to guide and lure your dog
- Use a longer lead and walk far away from the ramp. Seeing their human walk away entices a lot of dogs to follow, regardless of the situation
- If you have a smaller dog, pick up your dog and keep him halfway down the ramp and encourage him to walk down. Once your dog is halfway on the ramp, is only option is to either go up or come down.
- Sometimes dogs learn best from other dogs. If you know someone who’s dogs comfortably walk up and down the ramp, train your fearful dog in that dog’s presence. It will help speed up the process
Step 5 – Keep it positive and versatile
Dogs respond best to consistency. If they’re consistently and repeatedly exposed to the ramp in a positive way, they’ll be trained in no time to use the ramp like a pro.
One of the best ways to do so would be to invent new things to do around the ramp. Playing agility games using the ramp, “find it” games by putting treats on/around the ramp, trick training using the ramp etc are all ways and means to not only get rid of that excess energy of your dog but also effortless manoeuvring of the dog ramp.
Step 6 – Take it to the car and/or Ute
Taking the dog ramp directly to the car/ ute may take a while, especially while training a fearful dog to use a ramp. However, don’t give up just yet, especially if your dog’s health depends on it.
Sometimes, dogs might be comfortable using the ramp at home, but not outside, due to several factors like additional distractions, car sickness, sound of the engine etc. Here are some tips to help –
- Keep the car engine off while your dog is using the ramp
- Have a person sitting inside the vehicle (on the other side of the ramp) to encourage your dog walk up the ramp to the person quickly
- Involve lots of treats and praise
Sometimes, despite our best efforts and good intentions, our dogs end up with negative experiences. Your dog could end up having negative associations with the dog ramp because of one or more of the following reasons –
- Physical pain while walking up and down the ramp
- Fear of getting off
- The ramp could just look, feel or sound scary to your dog
- Apprehension due to wobbly surface of the ramp
But, one of the biggest apprehensions your dog might have is the end result of using the ramp.
Dogs form associations through the end result of an entire experience. If you’re using the ramp for car rides and your dog is already terrified of cars, he will develop a negative association with the ramp. If you’re using the ramp during bath times and your dog hates taking one, your dog will end up hating the sight of the ramp. Consider changing these associations for your dog.
Safety precautions while using a dog ramp –
- Make sure the ramp is secure and isn’t too wobbly for your dog
- Secure your dog with a harness and leash
- Have a handler ready
- While their still learning, keep a few cushions on the floor in case your dog falls off or decides to directly jump off
- Don’t make the incline too steep
In our experience, most dogs are happily bounding up and down a dog ramp within a couple of days - some will take to the dog ramp immediately, others will need a little more encouragement,
We hope the tips in this article have given you all the tools you need to help your dog master their new ramp.
We love dogs here at Ramped Up and we especially love seeing photos of our four legged customers using their new ramp, once your dog is happily using their new ramp, please send us a photo at firstname.lastname@example.org - it'll make our day!
Here are a few ideas for other ways you may be able to use your new ramp:
A dog ramp is an amazing investment as its utility is so versatile! Here are a few of the many –
- Can be used indoors to help dogs get on couches and furniture
- Can be used at the groomer’s salon to help dogs climb up on grooming table
- Can be carried to the vet’s clinic to help dogs climb up for examination
- Can be used to help dogs get into any kind of vehicle
- Can be used as an agility game equipment
- Can be used as a small bridge