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How to Train Your Dog to Use a Ramp

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Yesterday we shared our review of the Solvit Deluxe XL Telescoping Pet Ramp, a product that Irie’s now using not only to get to her veterinary appointments after her ACL surgery but also to get into the car any time. Yesterday we took her on the first day trip we’ve been able to do since the surgery, and it was very easy thanks to the ramp!

Irie, as our regular readers know, is a cautious dog. She’s come a long (long!) way since we first adopted her but she’ll always be reluctant to try new things for the first time. That, combined with the discomfort we knew she was feeling after the operation, made us concerned about how to teach her to accept and use the ramp.

We needn’t have worried; within three days, we had her walking up and down the ramp without hesitation. Here’s a look at the steps we took to acclimate Irie to the ramp.

Day One

The morning of the first day, we put the Solvit ramp in the living room floor and just ignored it–completely. We paid it no special attention, just laying it flat on the floor and then going about our daily routine.

It didn’t take long for the ramp to be discovered.

ramp-tiki-linus

Both the dogs AND the cats were soon checking out the new ramp.

By that afternoon, we were ready to get Irie closer to the ramp so we placed treats on the ramp and let Irie and Tiki eat treats off the ramp. Although Irie’s surgeon required a stiff cone for her after surgery, we switched her into a soft cone for the training so she could better see the ramp:
ramp-floor

irie-ramp-indoorsDay Two

On the second day, we propped the ramp up on the couch, with all its cushions removed. I lined the ramp with a couple of treats and led Tiki, ever the explorer, up the ramp while Irie watched.

Next, it was Irie’s turn. She did fine until she reached the break where the two pieces of the expandable ramp met. She stopped and briefly considered jumping off the ramp; I had her on a short leash and encouraged her on up the remaining few inches with the leash and more treats. We then turned and walked down the ramp; this time, there was no fear of the break in the ramp. On her next try up, she strolled right on up.

Day Three

Day three was the moment of truth: using the ramp on the car. Our Jeep is fairly high off the ground but the extra-long ramp made the slope gradual, even with Irie’s injury.

Again, Tiki was the first up the ramp:

tiki-ramp-jerky

Next, it was Irie’s turn.

Standing right beside the ramp so there was no chance of Irie jumping down and holding her on a short, short leash, I encouraged her up the ramp with treats. She was eager to follow Tiki so she merrily walked right on up. The next day at the vet’s office, we used the ramp with equally good results and yesterday we took it out for our first post-surgery travel, a day trip that Irie loved.

Training your dog to use a ramp, just like training your dog any new skill, just takes a little time and patience–and some great treats certainly speed up the learning time and make the job a lot more fun for everyone!

We received a Solvit ramp for review. As always, all opinions are entirely our own, and DogTipper only shares products that we use with our own pets.

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Leah Erb, Let's Go Dog

Thursday 18th of September 2014

I love the idea of putting a new ramp on the floor then ignoring it, brilliant. It wonder if it helps to have a curious cat in the house to lead the way :->

Paris & John

Thursday 18th of September 2014

Thank you; I think our cats played a big part in this, too :) They're usually the first to check out anything new in the house!!

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