You probably don’t realize that when your dog sits for you, there are only a couple of seconds in which to give a reward or your dog won’t know that the reason she got the cookie was for sitting. We have to be quick on the draw with our positive reinforcement to show our dog that what she did was what we wanted. Dogs learn by association – and generally they relate any event with what happens immediately before or after it. This means you need to give a reward virtually during the execution of the behavior you wanted or instantly afterwards.
You have decided that you’d like to purchase a set of pet steps for your dog. Envision the following picture: You’re psyched that the pet stairs you ordered online have finally arrived. Geez, the box is a lot smaller than you expected. You have to assemble the stairs, but you figure it’s a one-time price to pay for the steps.
The instructions seem to be written in every language except English, and you certainly won’t make it through with the fragments you retained from high school Spanish. You’ve assembled bits of cheap plastic together—freehand—only to discover that the steps aren’t nearly sturdy enough for your dog, or that they’re too short to be used for your intended purpose (or any purpose at all!). Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone finding this scenario appealing at all. Not only do cheap dog steps result in added hassle and disappointment, but they’re a flat-out waste of money.
The best way to keep this from happening to you is to learn as much as you can about the requirements that your dog’s stairs will need to meet. To do this, you will need to ask yourself a few questions. These questions are important in narrowing down the possibilities for your dog based on his (and your) needs.
How heavy is your dog?
Your dog’s weight has a lot to do with choosing dog stairs because some steps have weight limitations. It’s best to simply narrow down your search starting by whether or not they can support your dog’s weight. Most stairs should have been tested to allow for the amount of pressure a dog will exert onto the stairs when going up and down, so be sure to inquire if there isn’t a weight limitation posted on the website.
How tall/long is your dog?
The size of your dog (both in height and length) is a good indication as to whether you have a large, medium, or small breed of dog. You need to make sure that the steps have enough climbing and landing room, which means you need to have a look at the width of the steps (from the base of the back of the step to the front). Putting a toy-sized dog on gargantuan steps could make it very difficult for the dog to navigate the steps—not to mention the possibility of a slip resulting in injury. Below you’ll find a basic guide to aid you in choosing safe pets for your dog.
Large Breed: 16” Steps or Larger
Medium Breed: 14” Steps
Small Breed: 12” or Smaller
What will your dog primarily use the steps for?
This, again, is very important to ensure that you get the correct steps for your needs. Do you need the steps to aid your dog in getting to your extra-high bed? Perhaps you should look into purchasing high pet steps. Will the stairs be used for the car? Lightweight, mobile dog steps will likely be the best option for you. The best way to figure this out is to simply dust off your tape measure and measure the distance from the floor to the top of the surface your dog needs to access. If you’re using the stairs for your bed which is 2.5 feet from the floor, try to get stairs that meet this height—or get as close as you possibly can without going higher than the bed.
Your ultimate goal is to provide your dog with a safe and helpful way to get to and from places. It would be well worth the hassle of spending an extra hour or two searching for just the right steps for your dog. Another option if steps are not practical, is to consider getting a dog ramp.
This week’s featured breed was chosen in honor of “Sadie” AKA Ch. Roundtown Mercedes Of Maryscot, Best in Show winner at this year’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show. This Scottie also competed for best in show at Westminster in 2009, where she lost to a Sussex Spaniel named Stump. Well, this year she was back and, apparently, in it to win it. Congratulations to Sadie, her handler and her owners.
The Scottish Terrier, or Scottie, is an active and bold dog with very short legs and a small but sturdy build. The Scottie is strong and fearless, but also makes an affectionate companion. This breed is well known for its distinctive beard and short stature, as well as it’s frequent Scottish attire in pictures and cartoons. Scotties have been owned by many well-known public figures over the years, including Queen Victoria, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart and George W. Bush.