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How to Prevent Stair and Elevator Dashing

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If you live in an apartment, getting out of the building can be a challenge—especially for dogs that get excited. A dog dashing down the stairs to greet a person can pull an owner off balance (not to mention what the headlong rush can do to the other person!). A dog rushing into a small elevator to meet another dog may not have a lot of room to get away if it turns out that the other dog doesn't want to be approached.

An easy way to handle this challenge is to use a hand touch. (Learn how to teach a hand touch behavior here). When you are at the top of the stairs or in front of the elevator, put your hand out and ask your dog for a hand touch. Be sure to click and treat! You can use the hand touch on landings or in front of doorways as well.

If you practice this behavior every time you walk your dog, your dog will start turning toward you even before you present the cue. I started using this behavior with my own very excitable dog while I was working on her ability to stay with me. The hand touch made her check in with me. It also allowed me to settle her down and reinforce her for calmly walking down the stairs. Finally, it kept my dog from being reinforced by the thrill of rushing to greet a person coming up the stairs. I consider the hand touch the most important thing I ever taught my dog (and myself) to do.

KPA Training Tips of the Day are brought to you by Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partners. You can find more articles, ideas, and inspiration to help you train better and enjoy a lifelong bond with your dog on our website.

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