Chuy, my Chihuahua suffers from occasional flare ups from IVDD or Intervertebral Disc Disease. We built him a custom dog ramp to use to get on and off of our bed . . . since yes, that’s his bed too lol.
I’ve had many requests to write a blog post about how to train your small dog to use a ramp. I’ve pulled together the tips that I used with Chuy that you might find helpful.
While building your ramp or purchasing a ramp, keep the following questions in mind which can effect the training process:
- Is the ramp too steep?
- Does the ramp wobble?
- Does the ramp need side rails?
- Is the ramp wide enough?
Some dogs will start using the ramp on their own. The majority of dogs will need some training and coaxing to get comfortable with their new ramp.
1. Set Up the Ramp
Set it and forget it. Seriously. Set the ramp up where you plan on using it. Then just go about your business without making it a big deal.
Your dog is going to be naturally curious about this new piece of furniture. Don’t pressure or force your dog to use the ramp. I sat our ramp next to the bed and let Chuy sniff it out and discover it on his own. Trust me, he’s a super nosy curious dog.
2. Don’t Force Them
It’s important for your dog to do a little investigating on their own.
Do NOT place your dog on the ramp! You WILL freak them out! That makes an already scary new piece of furniture terrifying. You want them to explore and figure things out at their own pace . . . with a little bit of coaxing.
3. Treats and More Treats
Once I felt like Chuy was ready to start climbing up the ramp, I used treats to associate the ramp with a happy place. Take your time with this. Chuy learned in about a day but that may not be the case for your dog and that’s ok! Just be patient!
I started by placing Chuy’s favorite treats a few inches up the ramp. As he got more comfortable, I would move the treats further up the ramp. Eventually, he made it to the top!
Once he got to the top and looked around, I noticed he was a little nervous. It’s important (especially if the ramp doesn’t have guard rails) to stand next to the ramp so your dog feels safe and secure. Plus, you’ll be right there in case they decide to try and jump down!
Repeat the same process with the treats to teach your dog to walk down the ramp.
Bonus Tip: Chuy tried to “cheat” while walking up the ramp by jumping on the bed before he got all the way up to the top. To prevent this from becoming a habit, block all of the areas (with pillows) such as the edge of the bed so that they have to walk the entire length of the ramp.
4. Positive Reinforcement
Each time your dog makes it up or down the ramp, praise them with positive reinforcement. “Good boy, Chuy!”
5. Be Patient
Every dog learns at their own pace. This is a huge change for your pet. Be patient with the process and keep practicing with them. Let your dog know everything is ok.
I hope you find these tips helpful while training your dog how to use a ramp. We also have a wonderful DIY Dog Ramp tutorial if you’re looking to build your own ramp. If DIY isn’t your thing, there are several different ramps available online on Amazon.com
Please let me know how it goes (or if you have any questions) by leaving a comment down below! Subscribe to our email newsletter so you never miss another blog post! You can also keep up with us on Facebook and Instagram.