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Training Older or Stubborn Dogs: 5 Dog Ramp Training Hurdles and Their Solutions

How to Train an Older or Stubborn Dog to Use a Dog Ramp - DoggoRamps

Introducing your dog to an indoor ramp is one of the best decisions you can make for your pup. It helps protect their back and joints from jumping-related injuries, supports their long-term health, and gives you peace of mind as well. 

However, to make sure that you and your dog experience all the benefits of having a ramp, providing proper ramp training is a must!

To support you with training your dog, every DoggoRamp comes with an in-depth setup and training guide to help your pup become a Ramp Champ. We’ve also created training videos showing all the steps from our guide in action and a detailed post outlining our step-by-step training process.

While some dogs may get the hang of using their ramp in a matter of days, it’s perfectly natural for some pups to require a little bit of extra training, patience, and time.

Fortunately, all pups are fully capable of becoming a confident AND consistent ramp users - including older, stubborn, or timid dogs. 

So if you find yourself running into some challenges when training your dog how to use a ramp, here are the 5 most common ramp training hurdles AND their solutions!

Basic Dog Training Tips

Before jumping into specific training exercises, it’s important to touch on a few essential dog training tips that will set you and your dog up for success.

When training your dog how to use a ramp, always make sure to be:

  • Positive
  • Persistent
  • Patient

And NEVER:

  • Place your dog on a ramp
  • Push your dog on a ramp
  • Pull your dog on a ramp

Dogs learn when they make the decision to do something themselves and their action is positively rewarded by their owner with a high-value reward, praise, and enthusiasm.

It’s also important to:

  • Make sure your dog is 100% comfortable with every training step before moving onto the next.
  • Keep all training sessions fun, short, and sweet!

When training your dog how to use a brand new thing like a ramp, it’s not uncommon to practice a single step a couple of times per day over the course of a few days or even a couple of weeks. Consistent repetition will help build confidence and habit. Even if it takes your dog a few weeks to place a paw on their ramp, you’re still on the right track and making great progress! 

The key is to remain patient, go at your dog’s pace, and avoid rushing your dog through the training process. If you notice that you or your dog are starting to feel frustrated or tired, take a break.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at 5 common ramp training hurdles and their solutions:

1. My dog seems scared of their dog ramp and won’t go near it


It’s perfectly natural for a dog to be cautious around something new - especially if this “new object” is pretty big. It’s important to give your pup the opportunity to get acquainted with their ramp on their own terms.

If your dog avoids approaching, sniffing, or investigating their ramp - even when it’s flat on the floor:

  • Try placing your dog's ramp in a spot where they will have to walk across or over it, such as along the doorway to their favorite room. Make sure the ramp is placed flat on the floor as shown below.

Getting a stubborn Yorkshire Terrier acquainted with his dog ramp by placing it on the floor

  • Keep the ramp in the same spot for a few days until your pup doesn’t think twice about crossing it to enter and exit the room.
  • As well, don’t hesitate to reward every baby step during this process, such as your dog walking closer to their ramp than ever before, sniffing it, placing a paw on it, etc.

TIP: You can also place your dog’s dinnertime meal on their ramp when it's in this location. This will give your dog the chance to come in contact with their ramp in a positive and rewarding way.

Once your dog is 100% comfortable interacting with and walking across their ramp when flat, continue with Step 1 as outlined in our training guide!

2. My dog refuses to step onto or walk on their dog ramp once an incline is introduced
 

In some instances, a pup may have no issue walking across their ramp when laid flat, but will avoid stepping onto it as soon as an incline is introduced.

If you and your dog run into this small hurdle, it’s helpful to break down this part of the ramp training process into smaller baby steps:

  • Instead of trying to guide your dog up the full length of their ramp, set a smaller goal for the training session, such as getting your pup to simply place a paw on the ramp. Make sure the ramp is set to the lowest incline setting for the gentlest slope.
  • Use a high-value reward, like your dog’s favorite treat, to encourage them onto the ramp. As soon as they place a paw on it, give them their reward with lots of praise. Repeat this process until they’re completely confident with placing their paw onto the ramp at the lowest incline setting. It’s absolutely ok to practice just this step a handful of times per day over the course of a few days.

A chihuahua is rewarded with a treat during training for placing his front paws on his dog ramp

ï»żBrandon Jr. (@goldenretriever_n_achihuahua) is rewarded with a yummy treat for placing his front paws on his dog ramp.

  • Once your dog is 100% comfortable with placing a paw onto their ramp, repeat the process above, but this time, encourage your dog to place their two front legs on the base of the ramp. As always, keep each training session fun and reward your pup for showing the desired behavior. 

A stubborn dog is trained to put his two front paws on his dog ramp using a high-value reward

  • Next, go through this process one more time with the goal of having your dog get onto their ramp with all four legs. There’s no need to have them walk up or down their ramp just yet.

A stubborn dog is trained to stand on the base of his dog ramp using a high-value reward

  • Now that your pup is completely comfortable getting onto their ramp, practice leading your dog up and down their ramp using a high-value reward. Make sure to reward your pup for every step in the right direction - even if they don’t make it all the way up or down their ramp. 

Extra Dog Ramp Training Tips:

  • As a limited time treat, you can also try placing your dog’s dinnertime meal at the top of the couch. For many dogs, dinner is a more powerful motivator than treats.

reward based training for dogs - a dachshund enjoys dinner on the couch as a reward for using her dog ramp

  • Alternatively, some pups may benefit from having a trail of treats placed on their ramp to guide them up and down. This can help keep them focused and provides a reward for every little bit of progress.

A Dachshund follows and enjoys a trail of treats while walking up her dog ramp

Once your dog doesn't show any signs of hesitation when it comes to walking up or down their ramp at the lowest incline setting, continue on with Step 2 from our Dog Ramp Training Guide.

3. My dog knows how to use their ramp, but still chooses to jump


Many dogs that learn how to use a ramp after puppyhood have experience jumping off furniture and may have already developed a jumping habit. Fortunately, this habit can be changed with some extra training and practice.

If your dog is 100% comfortable with walking up and down their ramp but still opts to jump on or off the couch/bed, here’s how you can turn using their ramp into their go-to routine:

  • Try creating temporary barriers using cushions or other pieces of furniture to block your dog’s jumping path off the couch or bed. 

Cushions are used as temporary barriers to help guide a Dachshund to her ramp and prevent her from jumping off the couch

  • Stand at the bottom of the ramp with your dog on the couch/bed. Try calling your pup down without directly leading them onto the ramp. With their jumping path blocked off, your dog will realize that their ramp is the most natural and convenient way to get off the couch or bed. (However, if they do initially need a little help, don't hesitate to remind them about their ramp if required.)

Pillows are placed as temporary barriers to help train a bigger dog how to use their dog ramp and block their jumping path off the bed

  • Dogs are creatures of routine and practice builds habit. Repeat the step above during multiple training sessions over the course of a couple of days or weeks. Try reversing this process too and practice calling your dog up onto the couch or bed with the temporary barriers in place.

    TIP: You may even want to practice these exercises in different situations, such as when the doorbell rings or when your pup's dinnertime meal comes out. This can help train your dog to consistently choose their ramp regardless of whether they're in a relaxed or excited state.

    • Once your dog is instinctively making the decision to use their ramp at your current distance, take a few steps back and repeat the exercise above. 
    • After your dog doesn’t think twice about using their ramp even when you're further away, try removing the temporary barriers and repeating the training exercises from this section.

    A Miniature Dachshund keeps his back safe by walking down his bed ramp for dogs

    IMPORTANT: if your dog previously had a jumping habit, practicing with and without barriers isn’t usually a same-day process. Your dog may have had months or years to reinforce their jumping habit. Practicing with barriers anywhere from a few days to a few weeks will give your pup the opportunity to reinforce their new ramp routine. 

    4. My dog will only use their ramp when I’m there to guide them up and down...

    If your dog only uses their ramp when you’re around to lead them, it may be helpful to create temporary barriers and go through the training exercises outlined in the section just above.

    However, in this scenario, your dog may also be seeing the ramp as a fun prop rather than a means of getting on and off the couch or bed. 

    Instead of having training sessions where your dog only repeats going up and down their ramp:

    • Try walking with your dog into the room with their ramp as you usually would. Next, guide your pup to walk up their ramp in order to get onto the couch or bed. Rather than immediately having your pup walk down their ramp, take a few minutes to play with them on the couch/bed, snuggle, or take part in some other activity that they enjoy. From there, direct your pup down their ramp, out of the room, and repeat.

    A dog is rewarded by his owner for using his dog ramp to get onto the couch

    Training on this wider trajectory can help your dog recognize that using their ramp is not just a game, but a tool that helps them get to and from one of their favorite hangout spots. 

    5. My dog tries to take shortcuts by jumping halfway up or down their ramp


    In some cases, a dog may not think twice about choosing their ramp, but may decide to take shortcuts while using it. This can look like jumping halfway up before walking up the rest of their ramp or walking halfway down before jumping off.

    There are a few different training exercises you can try in order to encourage your dog to use the full length of their ramp:

    • One reason behind taking shortcuts is that a dog doesn’t yet feel 100% comfortable with walking on their ramp. In this scenario, place your dog's ramp flat on the floor. Using a high-value reward, practice leading your dog back and forth across the full length of their ramp. Repeat this exercise a handful of times over multiple training sessions. These sessions will help your pup get more confident with walking on the PAWGRIP surface (which can initially be unfamiliar for some dogs) and help them get used to taking more steps on their ramp. 

    A Dachshund starts learning how to use her dog ramp by walking across the surface when flat

    • Next, with the ramp set to the lowest incline setting, slowly lead your dog up and down the full length of their ramp with a high-value reward. You may find it helpful to also place a trail of treats guiding them up the ramp. This will help keep your pup focused on taking many steps instead of one leap and provide them with an immediate reward when they do so.

    A Dachshund puppy follows a trail of trains while training and learning how to use his dog ramp

    • If jumping halfway up the ramp from the floor is an issue, you can also dedicate a few training sessions where you practice getting your pup to step onto the bottom of the ramp with all four legs. As always, use a high-value reward to encourage them and give them lots of praise for demonstrating the desired behavior. Once they’re comfortable walking onto the bottom of their ramp, practice leading them the rest of the way up.
    • On the other hand, should your dog walk most of the way up their ramp before jumping the final stretch to the couch or bed, try setting up temporary barriers to block their jumping shortcut. (Pillows and cushions will do the trick!) Blocking your pup's usual jumping path should help funnel your dog to the top of their ramp.

    Pillows are placed as temporary barriers on a couch to encourage a dog to walk up the full length of their dog ramp in order to get onto the couch

    Remember: repeated practice helps build new habits. For best results, it’s helpful to practice each exercise or step during multiple training sessions over the course of a few days or weeks. Just make sure to keep each training session positive, rewarding, and fun!

    A big dog and two miniature Dachshunds all use their dog ramp after training

    The DoggoRamps Training Guide and the extra exercises featured in this post have helped hundreds of dogs master their ramps - even if they avoided them at the start. 

    With the right ramp and training strategy, every dog is capable of becoming a Ramp Champ! Keeping this in mind as you train your pup will set you up for success.

    To find out which indoor dog ramp would be the best fit for your pup, check out:

    And if you’d like more customized training tips for your particular pup and scenario, don’t hesitate to contact us at doggoramps@gmail.com! We’re always happy to help!

    Happy Ramping!



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