How to Teach Your Senior Dog to Use a Couch or Bed Ramp by Ann-Marie Fleming

01 June, 2020


There are two kinds of people in this world: those who refuse to let their dogs on the couch or bed, and those who can’t resist those extra snuggles. At Dog Quality, we don’t think there’s anything wrong with letting your dog climb up for a little cuddle — in fact, we encourage it! But for senior dogs, getting up on the couch or bed without help can be easier said than done.

As dogs age, they can develop conditions like arthritis or hip issues, which means they’ll become less mobile and may have difficulty jumping up onto the couch or into your bed. That’s where a dog ramp for high beds or couches can help: it gives your pup the boost up he needs. If your senior dog is suffering from limited mobility, here’s how to teach your senior dog to use a couch or bed ramp so you both can enjoy all the cuddles that you can get.

Dog Ramp or Stairs: What’s Better?

Before we get started, you might be wondering: are ramps or stairs better for dogs? While both can be useful to make your couch, bed and even your car more accessible for your pup, ramps are better for senior dogs with joint and mobility issues. A dog ramp provides a smooth, gradual rise up to your bed or couch, giving your senior dog a comfortable way to get close to you. No jumping or tricky stairs to climb. Just an easy route straight to your side.

Ramp Training for Senior Dogs

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that all dogs are different. Training a senior dog to use a ramp can take time, depending on his physical condition and personality. Climbing a ramp will be a new experience for your pup. Some dogs will take to it immediately, while others may have some anxiety at first. Fortunately, our Gentle Rise dog ramps are extremely safe, with a safety rail and sturdy frame to give dogs a sense of security.

Be patient, start slow and don’t rush your dog. We’re confident that in just a few short training sessions, your senior dog will be more than comfortable using his new dog ramp. Here’s what you need to train your dog to use a ramp:

  • A dog ramp for high beds or couches, like Dog Quality’s Gentle Rise ramp
  • Plenty of treats
  • A leash and collar or harness (optional)

Ready to train your dog to use a bed or couch ramp? Follow these simple steps.

  1. Introduce Your Dog to the Ramp

Before you try to get your dog to climb the ramp, introduce her to the apparatus first. With the ramp set up on your bed or couch, use treats to encourage your pup to walk around it and sniff it. It’s important to help your dog get comfortable with the ramp before adding an incline. That way, you’re setting her up for success.

  1. Add an Incline

Once your dog is familiar with the ramp, it’s time to try walking up to the bed or couch. Start by leading your dog to the bottom of the ramp. (This is where the leash and collar may come in handy.) Without hesitating, walk beside the ramp and lure your dog up with treats. You can use treats in two ways: by holding the treat far enough away from your dog so she has to move forward to get it, or by placing treats along the ramp so she has to keep walking to get the next treat.

Encouragement, positive reinforcement and repetition is key here. If your dog climbs the ramp without hesitating, give her plenty of treats and praise. If she refuses to move forward, backs up or tries to jump off the ramp, lead her back to the base and start again. You may need to repeat this step in 10-15 minute intervals for several days until your dog gains her confidence. Remember, your dog may be very nervous. While the safety rails are there to give your dog security, you may also choose to support her with your hands to give her a little extra comfort.

  1. Take it Easy Going Down

It’s one thing for your pup to go up the ramp, but it’s another challenge to make her way down. A dog’s first instinct is to jump off of furniture, but the impact can be hard on your senior dog’s joints. That’s why it’s just as important to train your dog to go down the ramp.

As you practice going up with the steps above, follow the same steps for teaching your dog to go down. Support her with your hands if necessary and give plenty of treats as your dog walks down the ramp. Also, if at any time you notice your dog is about to jump down from your bed or couch, interrupt her and lead her to the top of the ramp. Soon enough, your senior dog will learn that the ramp is the safest, most comfortable way to get down.

  1. Slowly Reduce Treats

Treats are a fantastic way to reinforce positive behaviors, but eventually you want your dog to follow instructions without rewards. Once your dog has become consistently successful with using the ramp — both going up and down — slowly start to reduce how often you give her treats. In no time, your dog will begin to use the ramp without hesitation and without expecting treats.

At Dog Quality, our mission is to improve the quality of life for senior dogs so they can age with dignity. If you’ve noticed your dog is making failed attempts to climb up to sit with you, or if he has a condition that limits his mobility, it may be time to consider a dog ramp for high beds and couches. Dog ramps are the best way to give your senior dog the freedom to get to his favorite place: by your side.

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