Riding an elevator can be a frightening experience for most pets, especially for those that weren’t properly socialized at a young age. Exposing your fur baby to new environments, people, and pets early on enables them to adapt to any situation they may encounter, whether that’s an elevator ride or a holiday trip. If your pup has developed a fear of elevators or is unfamiliar with the experience, they’ll likely act out if you try to force them into one. So instead, you should work on desensitizing and alleviating their anxiety. On that note, here are six practical ways to train your pet to ride a lift without losing its cool.
Familiarize Your Pet with the Elevator Bell
Stand with your pet outside the elevator and press the button. When the elevator arrives, and you hear its familiar ding, that’s your cue to praise your pup and give them a treat. The verbal praise will help alleviate their anxiety and assure them that everything is okay, and the delicious reward will allow them to associate the sound the lift makes with positive emotions instead of fear or agitation. Make sure you do this when your pup is paying attention to avoid startling them.
Calmly Encourage Them to Walk Inside
When the elevator door opens, slowly walk inside, then gently tug on the leash to encourage your pup to follow your lead. Press the button that holds the door open, stay inside for a couple of seconds, then calmly exit the elevator. Praise your fur baby and offer them a treat to reward them for keeping their cool in a new environment and show them that their calm demeanor makes you happy. Repeat this step a few times until your dog is more comfortable entering and exiting the elevator. Then, gradually increase the time you spend inside the lift, praising and rewarding your pup each time you leave.
Practice with the Door Closed
Once your dog grows accustomed to being inside the lift for extended periods, wait a few seconds, then press the “close door” button. You have to be ready to comfort your fur baby as they might start to panic once the door closes. Repeat this sequence of actions until they get used to the confined space, and praise and reward them each time they manage to keep their cool.
Take the Lift up or Down
Once your pet is comfortable in the closed elevator, it’s time to take the lift up or down. Make sure you only ascend or descend one floor at a time, and again, get ready to comfort your four-legged companion because they might not take well to the sudden movement. The folks from Stiltz Home Lifts suggest that this process will be much easier and faster if the elevator has a quiet drive system that will not startle your fur baby. Repeat this step while gradually increasing the number of floors once they get used to the movement. Praise and reward your canine buddy if they stay calm during the ride.
Try Feeding Your Pet in the Elevator
Mealtime is a strong motivator for most pets, so if your pup is struggling to adjust to this new experience and the treats don’t seem to be enough encouragement, consider giving them a meal inside the elevator. That way, they won’t be occupied by the moving box they’re in, and instead of being overwhelmed with anxiety and fear, they’ll be distracted by the delicious food.
Bring Another Furry Companion to Comfort Your Pet
In most cases, a delicious meal will do the trick. But if your pet needs further encouragement, you can bring one of their furry friends along to comfort them. Having another pet that is already desensitized to this process will assure your fur baby that there’s no harm in riding the elevator, which in turn, will help them overcome their fear and keep them calm and comfortable. Make sure both dogs are comfortable in each other’s presence before confining them together in a small lift.
Whether you live in a high-rise building or a multi-story house, these tips will help you cure your pet’s elevator phobia and teach them to remain calm until you get to your floor. But before you start training them in such a small, confined space, your fur baby should already know basic skills and commands. So, be sure to teach them to hold their position for extended periods, even when surrounded by distractions, before training them inside your home elevator. Once they are ready for the next step, start training them to ride the elevator during idle times of the day when you are less likely to inconvenience other residents, household members, or property dwellers.