Does every elevator ride with your dog feel like a horror movie? Are you holding your breath every time the door opens?
Teach your dog to be a polite passenger and you won’t feel like you need to take the stairs!
If you live in an elevator building you meet a lot of people and dogs every day. Some of them like your dog, some of them don’t, and your dog has their own opinions about each of them. It can be hard to navigate everyone’s needs safely and that can be a huge drag when you’re going in and out several times a day.
Whether your dog is afraid and hiding behind your or jumping up to greet everyone they meet, we can help!
You can’t control everyone’s behavior but you can put together a safe, predictable routine for you and your pup so it’s easier for you to keep your cool when surprises come up.
Step 1 is your safety plan. Here are some habits to get into when you’re on the elevator:
Stand aside while waiting for the elevator (social distancing rules are good!)
Don’t rush - wait until you're sure it's safe to get on/off
Keep your leash short (but keep it loose so your dog doesn’t feel worried)
Position your dog in the back corner of the elevator farthest from the door
Keep your dog's attention focused on food or a toy
Position your body between your dog and the door & anyone who comes through it
Step 2 is to teach your dog some skills that will help you keep to your safety plan. Start with these:
Calmly sit with duration
Wait to be invited in/out
Wait to greet dogs/people (in general, not just near the elevator)
That calm sit with duration is a great first step for your dog’s elevator manners. Here is how you get started on that:
Ask your dog to sit
Your dog sits
Mark “Yes” or click
Feed your dog a treat
Feed a few more treats in a row*
Release your dog with, "Ok!"
*Feed a different number of times each rep so your dog doesn't learn your treating pattern.
Level Up Your Success:
Whenever we train our dogs we want to set them (and us) up for success. Do these things for a smoother path to success:
Use treats your dog loves
Practice this at home until your dog can calmly sit for about 10 seconds before you try it in or near the elevator.
Level up to more distraction very slowly - practice near the elevator before you go inside, practice when you’re alone in the elevator many times before you try with other people and dogs around
Feed continuously at first, maybe even use something your dog can lick before you switch to a treat they need to chew
Change only 1 thing at a time (slow down your feeding OR go to a more distracting place)
As always, if you get stuck, fill out the contact form to set up a session! I can coach you virtually or in person in select parts of Brooklyn. Check out this post to see which neighborhoods I serve.
-Written by Elizabeth H. "Kizz" Robinson, CDBC, CPDT-KA for IAABC Journal, Sept. 2021
-Written by Elizabeth H. "Kizz" Robinson, CDBC, CPDT-KA for IAABC Journal, May 2020