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Training a Ramp
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New England
Member Since:
11 January 2022
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5 September 2023 - 9:06 am
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Would there be any interest in following along while I train my dogs to use a ramp to get in and out of the car?  I just put a deposit on a larger SUV so I can give the dogs more space in their crash safety crate.  The new car will be 3" taller to the cargo floor, plus my driveway is on a slight incline, which effectively increases the distance from the ground to the bumper.  Tempest is almost 8 and I want to reduce her jumping.  Loki already can't get in and out on her own.  We are in and out of the car ALOT, so using a ramp with the new one is important. 

Many dogs dislike using a ramp.  I borrowed one for Tempest when she had minor surgery and it took me 3 passes to get her to walk up it when I picked her up from the vet's office despite training it ahead of time (those post-op meds are wild - she did many out of character things for the first day or so).  Tempest is an incredibly biddable dog, so this was shocking to me.

I am not particularly concerned with Loki's stamina.  She's 2 years old - she's never going to be stronger than she is right now.  I also bought an extra-long ramp to keep the angle more gradual than with a shorter ramp.

My rough training plan is as follows:

  1.  Start with ramp flat on the ground.  Reward putting paws on ramp.  Work up to walking the length of the ramp while flat.
  2. Take the flat ramp new places: in the house, on the grass, in the driveway, etc.  Build confidence walking on ramp.
  3. Add incline in small increments. Leash walk up and down ramp.
  4. Build to 30" height by October by using ramp with objects of varying heights

I'm supposed to get the new car in early October, but I know many new vehicles are being delivered late.  Ideally I'll have both dogs fully ramp trained before we switch to the new vehicle.

Pennsylvania


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5 September 2023 - 9:30 am
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Go for it! I love seeing how other folks approach training a skill - inevitably there's something new I never would have thought of or always take away. Also, since your Loki is a bit nervous, your training timeframes seem really close to what I use for my nervy pup Juno. And this seems like such and important skill for so many tripawds, especially those to large to lift!

Love the training plan - that's pretty much exactly what I'd try if I had to approach this for June (though possibly out to a month and a half or so on my end, but she could surprise me!)

Thanks for offering - looking forward to following along! 💥

Natalie & Juno (aka June)

Virginia







Member Since:
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5 September 2023 - 10:09 am
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Thanks for sharing!  Well thought out and so dosvle.  Love that it's done slowly and with patience.  Great way to build their confidence.

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
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5 September 2023 - 12:02 pm
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Oooh how exciting for all of you! Yes we would totally love to follow along. Everyone learns from this kind of detailed training, and your plan sounds fantastic. Thank you for inviting us to the "classes"! 

Don't know if you've ever heard of this before, but one of the reasons why many dogs and other animals are afraid of ramps is a phenomena known as "the visual cliff." You can read a good synopsis about it here. Basically, they have a hard time with depth perception and ramps are really scary. 

it causes extreme avoidance behavior in dogs (as well as humans, cows and almost all other animals) when faced with a perceived risk of falling. In simple terms, most dogs are hard-wired to avoid differences in elevation - and the risks associated with falling off of them - at all costs. -- Pet Perils

New England
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5 September 2023 - 12:28 pm
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jerry said
Oooh how exciting for all of you! Yes we would totally love to follow along. Everyone learns from this kind of detailed training, and your plan sounds fantastic. Thank you for inviting us to the "classes"! 

Don't know if you've ever heard of this before, but one of the reasons why many dogs and other animals are afraid of ramps is a phenomena known as "the visual cliff." You can read a good synopsis about it here. Basically, they have a hard time with depth perception and ramps are really scary. 

it causes extreme avoidance behavior in dogs (as well as humans, cows and almost all other animals) when faced with a perceived risk of falling. In simple terms, most dogs are hard-wired to avoid differences in elevation - and the risks associated with falling off of them - at all costs. -- Pet Perils

  

Thank you for the link - I will definitely give it a read!  Hopefully ordering the extra-long sized ramp will help with making it visible.

My hope is if I can train the ramp well, I can get my dad to help my build a permanent ramp at the top of my driveway that I can back my car up to.  I know I am lazy and will rarely use the portable ramp in my own driveway - but it will get plenty of use when we're out and about because the dogs usually are in and out of the car frequently.  My vision for the permanent ramp would have a side rail to prevent jumping off the side, but that will also serve as a visual aid.

New England
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6 September 2023 - 6:24 am
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@Jerry - the link about the "virtual cliff" was very interesting.  I'm not surprised their product didn't get off the ground, though.  Who has space for a ramp with sides in their car?

 

Anyhow, it's about a million degrees here this week (after a few lovely weeks of weather in the 70s), so we probably won't be getting outside with the ramp until the weekend at the earliest.  We've done 2 short sessions in the living room (please forgive my messy floor - Loki is a shedder and a shredder).  Loki tends to be very hesitant to step on a new surface, but it's something we've been working on.  She stepped right on the ramp!  She's traversed the length of it a few times.  Here she is showing just how casual she is about this whole thing so far.

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Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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6 September 2023 - 9:49 am
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Looks like Loki has already mastered owning the ramp! Good job sweet girl!👏👏

Hahaha I know what you mean about dogs who are shedders  and shedders!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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6 September 2023 - 12:58 pm
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WOW that's really cool she is already that comfortable with it! Great photo and excellent way to acclimate her to the ramp.

Messy floor? LOL you should see ours, we've got you beat!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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6 September 2023 - 12:59 pm
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Glad you liked the read about the visual cliff. I did too. It explains so much, like why our Wyatt would never jump in a pool but he would wade into a lake (he could keep his feet on the ground on a lakeshore).

Temple Grandin really changed the entire beef industry by making it more humane with her own ramp design. 

Now if someone can make a ramp that is actually compact enough for ordinary vehicles, yeah that would be a game changer!

New England
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6 September 2023 - 1:13 pm
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I think tonight I'm going to try to add a slight incline if I can come up with something stable enough to rest the ramp on.  All of my plans for adding elevation are outside.  It's in the 90s out, I'm not training outside.

One thing I may try to help with the visual cliff when we're going to be in one place all day (like at a nosework trial), is keep a couple of garden stakes in my car that I can tap into the ground.  Then I can tie a piece of paracord from the stake to the crate door to give a visual similar to a side.  Maybe tie a few strips of fabric onto the paracord to give it a little more dimension.  I make paracord leashes, so I always have some spare cord laying around.  We'll see how they do on training alone.  

Livermore, CA




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6 September 2023 - 2:08 pm
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I'll be following along! 

My dogs are small enough that I can pick them up to get in and out of my truck.  Actually quad dog Callie loads up by herself by jumping into the front door onto the floorboard, then the seat, then into the backseat, I lift her out.  I use Elly's harness to get her in and out.  I bought a van last year to use as my main NW vehicle but of course Elly HATES it smiley4.  I haven't even tried to put Callie in it yet.

As far as the visual cliff- my first Tripawd Maggie had it but I didn't know what it was back then.  I tried 3 different ramps over the course of her 4 year Tripawd journey and she wouldn't get on any of them, even the one I put next to my bed so it had one side.  I didn't know much about training back then either so maybe I could have made some progress....but I'm not sure.  Mag would not go up or down 'floating stairs', she wouldn't walk on a deck if she could see through the gaps in the wood.  She wouldn't walk on floors with 'loud' patterns like linoleum sometimes has.  I know it was the pattern because she would walk on plain or more neutral patterns.  Once we had adjoining hotel rooms and she wouldn't cross the threshold between the rooms, it was different than the carpet in each room.  Everything but the ramps happened before she lost a leg and while her vision was still good.

Not all dogs have it.  My second Pug Tani was a pro on ramps as she got older and she would walk on anything.  Third Pug Obie wouldn't do the open stairs which led a couple times to me carrying my quad dog up and down the stairs while my Tri did them on her own!  Elly doesn't have it- she just has some fear/confidence issues.  And new girl Callie is a hooligan- she is fearless so far smiley4

 

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls and Boy

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

New England
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6 September 2023 - 2:39 pm
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There are definitely some advantages to having little dogs! 

My original plan for a dog car was a minivan. The Honda Odyssey was the only van that met all of my criteria. I was thoroughly unimpressed after I test drove it. So I pivoted and took a larger SUV for a test. It drove like a dream, so that's what I'm going with. I can lift my dogs comfortably, but none of us are getting any younger. The ramp will be a good tool to have.

That's really interesting about the patterned floors being scary for Maggie! Loki has the more conventional fear of shiny floors. I bought a clear plastic shower curtain and I throw that on familiar surfaces from time to time to make it look wierd/shinier. She also gets uncomfortable with low lighting. One of the places I do nosework has a shadowy basement. Loki will work the well lit areas, but hates the shadows.

I have been completely spoiled with Tempest who is a go anywhere do anything kind of dog. Loki is making me a better dog mom/trainer though. 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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6 September 2023 - 3:28 pm
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I so enjoy the stories Karen can tell about her Pugs.  They entertain educate  and enlighten....and  always make us smile

♥️Maggie.♥️ 

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

Pennsylvania


Member Since:
4 July 2023
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6 September 2023 - 4:46 pm
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Re: visual cliff. OMD. Learning so much already! And knowing that makes stuff like the agility runs below even more amazing. Actually, as our rehab instructor gives us more and more exercises for June to do, I keep thinking about all the tiny steps that lead up to a dog running and A-frame or a teeter-totter. ...or just a ramp into the car! smiley9

Aside: can't help but mention that for those who've never seen it, Crufts dog show's rescue dog agility is a total heart-warmer when you need one. smiley4

Natalie & Juno (aka June)

The Rainbow Bridge



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25 April 2007
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7 September 2023 - 12:38 pm
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Oooh I didn't know about that Crufts show, thank you! 

Yes it's pretty incredible what dogs will do on an agility course, things that many humans wouldn't ever attempt.

LOVE those stories Karen! Too funny about the adjoining hotel rooms. 

Our Wyatt would not do floating stairs either, he really had the defective "visual cliff" gene. That was another way the Ruffwear harnesses came in handy, he just had no choice when we lifted him. Didn't like doing it but sometimes it was necessary.

Nellie was hesitant of those steps at first but now she has that type of staircase mastered. We still help her get down the steps though. I think she'd do agility pretty well as she can do a lot of acrobatic (not jumping) types of movements that I still need to blog about!

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