We were in Atlanta at a Home Dog Training session on Friday with some new clients and their Border Collie named Sagebrush.  They had recently moved from their large farm in North Carolina and were looking forward to experiencing a more urban lifestyle.  Their high rise condo was great for them and they thought that Sagebrush would love being in a pet friendly environment.  They did not anticipate for one, very big problem. Sagebrush, their dog, was frightened to go in the elevator if there was another dog already there.  As I earlier mentioned, one of the reasons they bought a condo in that building was because it was a “very pet friendly” building with many other dog friendly amenities close by..  They could not walk up and down thirty flights of stairs every time they needed to take him out.  We needed to fix that issue as quickly as possible.

We first wanted to go through some of the obvious things we were not going to do.  This sounds obvious, but many people still can make some pretty horrendous mistakes with dogs and elevators.

  • First, you don’t want to place your dog into an environment where he is forced into a fight or flight decision in a confined environment (i.e. elevator).
  • You don’t want have another dog come into the elevator and then move you dog into the corner.  You think you are moving away and giving distance, but you are simply ramping up a possibly bad situation.
  • You don’t want to pick your dog up if another dog comes into the elevator and he shows signs of nervousness. This could lead to a fight taking place right in your face.

Remember that you are always responsible for your dog’s wellbeing.  You never want to place your dog in a situation where he feels unsafe and feels and he can’t look towards you for safety and security.  When you inappropriately put him in “fight only” flight or fight situations or do things that deflate your leadership stance, you are telling your dog “Hey pal, I guess you are on your own”.  This means that he will step up to be the leader and will take a more dominant and assertive role in that situation in the elevator.

You must understand that as the protector (i.e. parent), it is your key responsibility to keep your dog safe.  Sometimes, the best way to keep things safe is to avoid unsafe situations.  This is not “running away”, it is correctly managing the situation.  We then went through some suggestions and scenarios with our client and Sagebrush:

  • We told our client that if he is entering the elevator and he observes another dog in the elevator, stop and return to the middle of the hallway.  Let the people in the elevator know that your dog is a little fearful of elevators with other dogs and you will wait for the next elevator.  Your neighbors, who are also dog people, will see that you are a responsible dog owner and only trying to do the best for all the dogs in the building.
  • If our client is in the elevator, the doors open, and someone starts to enter with their dog, I told him to politely mention that his dog is a little fearful of other dogs when in the elevator.  He should ask if they could wait for the next elevator.  If they say yes, thank them.  If they continue to get into the elevator, I told my client to simply offer his apology and step out of the elevator.  If there are other people in the elevator, they will see that he is a responsible dog owner, no matter which outcome occurred.  This is also great because it will show Sagebrush that his owner kept him in a safe and secure situation.

I know that these suggestions will possibly elongate my client’s elevator rides, but it will keep his dog safe and his leadership role in place.  After a few weeks of riding the elevator and seeing dogs in the building, Sagebrush will probably have no problem with dogs in the elevator.

Please call Robin or myself at (770) 718-7704  and we will be able to help you with any dog training issues you may have.  We have already answered many of our clients’ dog training questions at Best Dog Trainers Atlanta Georgia.  You can locate our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Atlanta Georgia.