The Rewards of Dog Ramps and Dog Stairs - Kennel to Couch

Older dogs struggling with mobility?

Is your cherished canine companion finding it nearly im-paws-ible to climb steps or climb onto or off of surfaces? Is he either panting or yelping after completing a once-easy jump – be it into the car or onto a couch? Is he suffering from arthritis or other joint problems, recovering from an injury or surgery, including the amputation of a leg? Or is he simply aging? If any of these scenarios sounds achingly familiar, consider providing him with either a dog ramp or a set of dog stairs.

If you own a medium or large-sized dog who requires assistance climbing into or out of your vehicle, or worse still, needs you to lift him, the best way to keep from injuring yourself is to teach him to use a ramp or stairs. In fact, there are specially designed freestanding stairs for bigger dogs that can be folded up and stored in your vehicle, making them readily available whenever you need them and wherever you go.

Prefer a dog ramp instead? There are more than enough options available on the market, from different materials and thicknesses to the specific features they offer. Of prime importance when making your choice is that the ramp both supports the weight of your dog and is light enough for you to move and carry about comfortably and easily. Most dog ramps are made of metal, wood and plastic and their surfaces are usually covered with fabric, carpet, artificial grass, and various non-skid materials.

For indoor use, when considering your options, make certain that the ramp is sturdy with a top surface that’s either labeled “non-slip” or has horizontal slats across it. Why? Because your dog can use those slats to help keep him stabilized when he’s walking up and down it. Also, ensure that not only will the ramp lock in place but that it has non-skid feet, perhaps even safety rails, to help prevent accidents. For convenience, choose one that can be left in place, and that, for aesthetic purposes, fits as pleasingly as possible with your furniture.

If, on the other hand, your dog is smaller and requires assistance getting on and off the couch, bed or chair, a ramp or set of stairs will work equally as well. Stairs, however, take up less space than ramps, and since high-quality stairs are less expensive than high-quality ramps, they’re ideal for pet parents on a budget. Foldable pet stairs can also be brought out when needed, then folded up and slipped underneath the couch, bed or chair to keep from cluttering up the rooms in which they’re used.

One word of caution: Because ramps and steps are unfamiliar to most dogs, it’s essential that you introduce yours slowly and patiently to them, preferably in a quiet space free from unwanted distractions. And since practice makes perfect, have him practice, practice, practice while rewarding him over and over and over with praise and high value treats. Provide him with the guidance and support he needs to keep him from rushing or jumping off, slipping or falling off until he’s fully confident, comfortable, and capable of safely ascending and descending the ramp or steps on his own.

By Nomi Berger

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