Indoor dog ramps create a safer living environment for pups in their homes.
Using ramps can:
However, in order for a dog to enjoy all the benefits of using a ramp, it’s important to provide proper ramp training. Following a step-by-step training process can make a BIG difference with making sure that a dog safely and consistently learns how to use their ramp.
Whether you’re well-versed in dog training or a beginner, this guide covers all the essential steps for training your dog how to use a couch or bed ramp.
(And if you happen to be training an older or more timid pup, make sure to check out our extra training tips at the end of this guide too!)
Before getting started, it’s important to understand how our actions can help OR hinder the training process. Here at DoggoRamps, we follow the 6Ps when training a dog how to use a ramp.
We ALWAYS make sure to be:
Dogs learn best when they decide to do something themselves, and their action is positively rewarded by their owner with high-value treats, excitement, and praise. When a dog is rewarded for their behaviour, they are more likely to repeat it again in the future.
@itsadaphneday enjoys treats as her reward during ramp training.
It's also helpful to note that short yet frequent training sessions help build habit and prevent frustration from pup and paw parent alike.
As well, making sure that a dog is 100% comfortable with each step in this guide before moving onto the next will help them become a confident ramp user with ease!
Keep in mind that each dog has its own unique personality, habits, and preferences. While many dogs will get the hang of using their ramp right away, it’s perfectly natural for some dogs to need a little more practice and time. Sticking with short training sessions and remaining positive, persistent, yet patient will help make training a more timid pup a breeze!
Rewards can make ramp training a fun, exciting, and positive experience. Useful items and accessories that can be used as rewards include:
Treats are a powerful training tool for food-motivated dogs. A bowl of mealtime food placed on top of the couch or bed can also give pups an extra incentive to make their way up a ramp. For many dogs, mealtime food is infinitely more exciting than treats!
A pup receives the limited time privilege of "Dinner on the Couch" as a training reward.
For dogs who are familiar with clickers, they can be used to reward the correct behavior as soon as it happens, like taking a step onto the ramp, and signal that a treat is on the way.
Rewards can include anything that your dog values and enjoys. It’s possible that some dogs may prefer to work for a game with their favorite toy instead of a treat.
If you're not sure what would work best for your dog, try experimenting with these different options!
Now that we’ve covered the essentials, it’s time to get started with ramp training.
Ramp Position: Flat on the Floor
Getting a dog to walk up and down a new thing in their home can be intimidating if they’re not ready or feeling unsure. When training a dog how to use a ramp, it’s important to give them the opportunity to get accustomed to the ramp’s presence first.
Lay the ramp flat on the floor and let them approach it, check it out, sniff it, walk on it, etc. Reward your dog anytime they interact with the ramp to let them know that they’ve taken the desired action.
You can even grab your dog’s favorite toy and play with them around the ramp and once they’re comfortable with its presence, play with them on the ramp. Playing on the ramp also helps dogs get a feel for what it’s like to walk on it.
Should your dog refuse to interact with their ramp, avoid moving on to any next steps and make sure to check out our tips for training older and more timid dogs at the end of this guide.
After a dog is 100% comfortable interacting with their ramp, it’s time to move on to the final part of Step 1. With the ramp still flat on the floor, encourage your dog to walk the full length of the ramp back and forth. If required, you can use treats to guide them and give them lots of positive praise for demonstrating the desired behavior.
SMALL BED RAMP TIP: If you have the DoggoRamps Small Bed Ramp, attach the side railings and move the ramp next to the couch after your dog has practiced walking on the ramp without them. Now, have your dog walk the length of the ramp a handful times (still flat on the floor) with the side railings on. This will help them get used to the width of the platform and the railings without the added intimidation of an incline.
Ramp Position: Lowest Height Setting
Now that your dog is 100% confident with walking on their ramp when flat, you can start introducing them to an incline.
Whether you have a couch or bed ramp, we recommend practicing this step with your ramp set to the lowest height setting and placed against the couch.
SMALL BED RAMP TIP: If practicing on the DoggoRamps Small Bed Ramp, make sure to have both the side and end railings on at this time (as shown below).
Using a high-value reward, lead your dog up and down the ramp. Keep repeating this step multiple times throughout many training sessions until your dog is completely comfortable walking up and down their ramp. Make sure to keep every session rewarding and fun.
TIP: When getting started with Step 2, some dogs may benefit from having a trail of treats placed on the ramp guiding them up and/or down. A treat trail can help a dog stay focused while rewarding every single baby step!
LARGE BED RAMP TIP: Attach the side and end railings on the DoggoRamps Large Bed Ramp after you’ve had the chance to practice without them. Once attached, lead your dog up and down the ramp with the railings on so your dog can adjust to the width of the platform.
Max first gets used to walking up and down his bed ramp without having the railings attached.
After he adjusts to the incline, he practices using his bed ramp with safety railings.
Once your dog is comfortable walking up and down their ramp at the lowest incline, you can raise the height by one setting if necessary for your couch or bed. With the ramp still placed against the couch, lead your dog up and down their ramp until your dog is confident with the new incline.
Repeat this process - only ever raising the height one setting at a time - until you are at the desired height for your couch or bed.
Note that the DoggoRamps Couch Ramp doesn’t have to be set flush to the top of the couch. It’s actually best to have it slightly lower than the top as many dogs, especially medium and big breeds, prefer to take one final step up from the landing platform to the couch.
SAFETY TIP: The DoggoRamps Small and Large Bed Ramps come with an anchor rope system to provide full stability when set up by the bed. While practicing at the couch, it’s helpful to gently place your body against the ramp to avoid any little movements or wobbles as they can spook some pups.
Before moving on, keep practicing Step 2 over multiple training sessions. We can start turning ramp use into a habit through repetition.
Ramp Position: Desired Height Setting for Your Couch or Bed
If you’re training on a bed ramp, you can now move your ramp and set it up by the bed. Make sure to attach the anchor rope system as shown in your installation guide so the ramp is fully stabilized.
Then, practice leading your pup up and down the ramp to get on and off the bed.
After your pup is comfortable going up and down their ramp with your guidance, it’s time to train them to independently choose their ramp instead of jumping.
Start by having your dog sit or stand on the couch/bed near the top of the ramp.
Still facing the ramp, take a few steps back and try calling your dog. Dogs like to choose the path of least resistance and should use the easiest and most convenient route - which is down the ramp.
The goal is to have your dog decide to use the ramp even when they’re not being guided down. Make sure to stay close enough so you can prevent them from making the wrong choice and remind them of the ramp if necessary.
To reinforce habit, it can be helpful to create a temporary barrier using pillows or other pieces of furniture to block their jumping path and funnel them towards the ramp. This works especially well if your pup’s a jumper.
Once your dog is consistently and reliably choosing to use their ramp at your current distance, try moving further away and repeating this step.
While some dogs may speed through the training process and master using their ramp in a matter of days, others may require a bit more practice, patience, and time. The good news is that EVERY dog can become a Ramp Champ - including senior dogs and very timid pups!
Should you find yourself stuck during any part of the training process, check out our extra training tips below or our new guide dedicated to the 5 most common dog ramp training hurdles AND their solutions!
If your pup seems to avoid going anywhere near the ramp right from the start, try laying the ramp in a spot where your dog will have to walk over or across it, such as in the doorway to their favorite room. Make sure the ramp is laid flat.
Leave the ramp there for a few days until your dog no longer notices the ramp under their feet. You can even place your dog’s meals on the ramp, which will encourage them to start interacting with their ramp in a positive and rewarding way.
Once you see that your pup doesn’t think twice about walking on/over their ramp or eating on it, resume with Step 1.
As well, don’t forget to reward every single baby step during the training process - from deciding to play near the ramp, sniff it, or place a single paw on it.
A series of short training sessions over the course of a few days may simply focus on getting your dog comfortable with the presence of the ramp before moving onto training sessions that encourage your pup to place a paw or two on it.
Some dogs may have no problem walking on their ramp when flat, but hesitate when an incline is introduced. If this happens, try breaking down Step 2 into a series of smaller baby steps.
Instead of trying to lead your dog up and down their ramp right away, begin with a series of short and sweet training sessions with the goal of getting your pup to place a single paw on the ramp at the lowest incline setting. Keep each practice session positive and fun, and make sure to reward your pup for demonstrating the desired behavior.
After your dog no longer hesitates to place a paw on the ramp, move onto training sessions that encourage them to place their two front legs on the ramp. When they are comfortable with that, practice having your dog get onto their ramp with all four legs without having them walk up or down it just yet.
Once you notice that your dog is comfortable with stepping onto the ramp at the lowest incline setting, you can start practicing leading them up and down - rewarding them for every step in the right direction - even if they only make it a few steps up or down.
When working with more cautious pups, breaking the training process down into small baby steps, being persistent yet patient, and practicing each step many times is a great strategy for success!
This DoggoRamps Ramp Training Guide has been followed by hundreds of pet owners and has helped countless pups become DoggoRamp Champs!
We believe that with the right ramp AND training, ALL dogs are fully capable of succeeding and becoming confident ramp users.
To learn more about our ramps and their unique features, check out:
You can also watch all of our DoggoRamps Training Videos here.
And if you’re looking for customized training tips and help, we’re always happy to provide personalized support for your dog and specific scenario! Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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