Has your dog been on an elevator before? Elevators are a staple of life for many big city dogs, but elevators can be scary and stressful for dogs if they’re not used to them. Even if you don’t live in an apartment building or in a large city, teaching your dog how to ride elevators in comfort is a useful skill because you never know when your dog might run into an elevator. For example, if you and your dog ever travel together, your dog will run into elevators in parking garages and / or hotels and it helps to be prepared.
What you need to teach your dog to ride an elevator
- Dog treats: lots of little dog treats that are of great value to your dog (especially your dog’s favorite treat, such as turkey bacon for dogs).
- 6-foot dog leash: When traveling in elevators, always keep your dog on a dog leash and use a short dog leash for best control (this is not the right situation for a retractable leash).
- Elevator in a dog-friendly building: To teach your dog how to use the elevator in comfort, it is helpful to find an elevator that is in a dog-friendly building but relatively quiet so that you have time to practice.
Here’s how to teach your dog to ride the elevators
When teaching your dog to ride in an elevator, walk at your dog’s pace and don’t force him into an elevator. While you are working on getting your dog used to comfortable elevators, use the stairs as most dogs will be more comfortable with the stairs until they get used to elevators.
First, let your dog experience the sights and sounds of the elevator by watching him as the elevator door opens and closes. Give him a treat for each interest in the elevator and make sure your dog is not nervous about the signs and sounds of the elevator before you move on. Treat and repeat until your dog is calm and comfortable near the elevator.
When your dog is calm and comfortable near the elevator, it’s time to practice getting in and out. Wait until no one else is waiting so you can walk at your dog’s pace and focus on your dog instead of trying to avoid the people rushing in and out of the elevator. When the elevator comes, give your dog a treat, then go into the elevator. In a happy voice, encourage your dog to walk with you.
When you get on the elevator, press Door Open to prevent the doors from closing. If you’re in the elevator with the door open, give your dog a treat, and then leave the elevator together while you praise and treat your dog.
Repeat this several times until your dog is comfortable with you in the elevator and can comfortably eat treats while standing or sitting with the elevator door open.
Once your dog is comfortable getting on the elevator, it’s time to ride!
Next, get your dog on the elevator as before, but this time press the close door button and go up one floor. Praise and treat your dog to a treat in the elevator. Let your dog explore the elevator and praise your dog for examining the elevator. Some dogs may be a little nervous about the movement while others may not even notice it. Keep praising and giving your dog treats while the elevator is in motion.
When the elevator opens, grab your dog’s attention with a treat. In a happy voice, encourage your dog to get out of the elevator with you. The idea is that we want to keep practicing how to get out of the elevator calmly. This will prevent your dog from developing habits of jumping out of the elevator in the future, which is not only rude when people are outside waiting to get in, but can also be dangerous.
If at any point your dog feels uncomfortable or nervous getting in or climbing the elevator, go back to the last step your dog was successful in and practice this skill for a while until he regains his confidence. The goal is for your dog to be comfortable in the elevator, which means that they travel at their speed and level of comfort.
Elevators close on dog
Most modern elevators have sensors that prevent your dog’s elevator door from closing, but older elevators may not have motion sensors. When getting on an elevator with your dog, always be careful of your dog when in and around elevators to avoid injury. Don’t be on your phone or get distracted talking to someone. Whenever you ride an elevator with your dog, always block the elevator door with your body to prevent the elevator from closing on your dog or on his leash
Keep your leash short and your dog close to you when getting in and out, and don’t let your dog lag behind you or push forward to prevent you and your dog’s leash from getting stuck in the closing door and you and your dog will be separated, which could be life threatening to your dog. While some elevators have an emergency stop button that you can press, not all do, and there have been reports of cases of dogs dying from strangulation after their leashes got stuck in elevator doors with their person on the other side were.