Elevator Training For Your Dog
Elevator Therapy Dog Training
I want to pass on some dog training tips you can use to help train your therapy dog to be comfortable in unusual places. I remember taking my first therapy dog to visit a patient in the hospital. He was on an upper floor and that meant taking the elevator or climbing stairs. I have a pretty impressive utility bag that has all kinds of devices I use in my therapy work and it weighs almost as much as I do. A climb to the top of the hospital was daunting. Long story short, I decided to take the elevator.
My Therapy Dog Had Never Been in an Elevator
My therapy dog had been exposed to a whole lot of socializing but she had never been in an elevator. She was fine when we entered and the closing doors didn’t bother her. However, when the car began its ascent, she squatted and wet. It really scared her. I got my paper towels and spray cleaner out of my bag and wiped up her ‘spill’ but I learned a big lesson: here was another area I needed to gently and calmly do some training with my therapy dog.
Another thing: when she had her little ‘accident’ I didn’t freak out. She was frightened and wetting is a normal reaction to fear. I didn’t praise her (I didn’t want her to think it was okay to moisten elevators!) and I didn’t reprimand her. If anyone needed reprimanding, it was me. I merely cleaned up her spill and we proceeded to visit with our client. And I made a mental note to be sure and visit some places, with the permission of the building supervisor, where I could do some therapy dog training in elevators.
Another Thought About Elevators
Another thought about elevators. There are some which travel very fast, some with glass walls, some with doors that open in the front and the back, others that move quite slowly. Some are carpeted, (not good for training purposes) and some with slippery floors, perhaps music or soft chimes. It isn’t common anymore to find an elevator operator. We now live in the age of electronics so the dulcet tone of a woman speaking the number of the various floors is not uncommon.
Each type of elevator could well be a brand new experience for your therapy dog. Once she has ridden and is comfortable with a slow, quiet lift then gently introduce her to other types. And while I am talking about lifts, don’t forget the escalator. This can be a very dangerous way to reach an upper or lower floor and there are things you need to be especially careful about. I will address escalators in another article.
If this article was helpful and you would like to read about therapy dogs and escalator training, click here.
Happy Therapy Dog Training on Elevators!
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