A few months ago, I was coming down the stairs from our second floor to our first with our 17 year old dog, Chloe. She got about mid-way down, somehow lost her footing, and she went down the rest of the stairs like a sled down a snowy hill…on her side.
A few days later, it happened again, so we started carrying her down the stairs. We thought this was a good solution, but during a trip to the vet, he told us the more we coddle her, the weaker she would get and the faster it would happen.
We started putting up a gate at the bottom of the stairs to keep her from coming up all the time. This wasn’t a really good idea either as she barked constantly if we went upstairs. She has become very deaf in the past two years, and as a result, seems to be almost panicky at times if she can’t see us.
So, back to the drawing board. I wish I could say I thought of this, but my husband got the idea to use the same harness and leash we put on her when she goes for a walk when she is going downstairs. As a side note, it’s a much better idea to use a harness to attach a dog’s leash than a collar. This becomes even more important as the dog gets older to avoid jerking what may be a neck with some arthritis pain in advancing years.
Because Chloe had become terrified of the stairs after falling, and who can blame her, this seemed like a really good idea and worth a try. Get down to your dog’s level sometime and look down a flight of 13 steps. It was a reality check for me of what she was facing every time she had to go downstairs.
We started taking her harness and leash upstairs with us and putting it on her when she comes downstairs. It’s made a world of difference to her. She is more confident and comfortable, and so are we. We make sure to keep the leash taught so if she stumbles, we can support her and keep her from going down in a heap. It’s saved her from another bad fall on more than one occasion.
We’ve also started using the same technique when she goes up and down the steps outside. Although there aren’t nearly as many steps, now that winter has arrived in the northeast, we have the ice to contend with. Again, the leash has come in handy on more than one occasion.