When we first got Toby he was afraid of the stairs. He was little and going up took such an effort. Going down was just plain scary. There was so much potential for a fall and pain. He's grown so much in the six weeks that we've had him and the stairs no longer hold any fear for him - all of the stairs except for the internal spiral staircase that goes down to Sam's bedroom.
There's just something about these stairs that terrify Toby. We've tried to convince him that he can manage them just as well as the other stairs in the house. But he will not budge. So I've made it a little project to get him confident with them.
We started just going up. I put him on the fourth top step and walk up. He cried and carried on but then he reluctantly followed. Over a couple of weeks I've taken him down further until he's fairly happy to walk up the whole flight.
But going down is a whole different story. I've tried calling him down. Getting Bubbles to demonstrate that going down can be safe. And I've tried placing dog food on each of the steps - Toby is such a greedy dog that I thought that was bound to work. It was a big fail - the only one who got any food was Bubbles.
The other day I had to throw away some left-overs to the chickens. (It was chicken soup and they LOVE it - especially the chunks of chicken. And I get a sick sense of satisfaction that I'm causing them to be cannibalistic) Toby just had to see what I was up to close up. He broke into the chicken pen and started scoffing the soup from the container. And I had light-bulb moment. If I took the container and placed it on the third top step, my greedy puppy just wouldn't be able to resist.
He followed me back upstairs very enthusiastically. Watched me walk down the three stairs and put the container down. I called him down but he refused to come anywhere near the edge. He barked at me. He pranced up and down the hall. He went and got Bubbles and together they barked at me but there was no way he was going down those stairs.
I decided to leave it there and see if greed got the better of him and I went into the kitchen to bake. And totally forgot about it until I heard the bang, bang, bang of something falling down the stairs. Toby came racing in to get me - telling me in excited yips that something had happened.
Luke got to the stairs first and told me that the container was still on the third top step. So what had fallen down? Seems that Toby isn't the only greedy dog in the house. Bubbles was the thing that we'd heard banging down the stairs. No, she wasn't hurt - apart from her pride. And Toby's opinion that the stairs are dangerous have been totally justified. We've got buckleys of ever getting him down them now.