Training Your Dog To Climb Into Your Truck

My dog, Louie, is a 3-year old neutered shar pei that I’ve had less than a year. He is somewhat timid, not aggressive, but typically shar pei stubborn and too smart! When I got him he had never been on a leash or in a car or house (lived in a kennel). He does really well with the prong collar and is housebroken. He’s my best buddy!

My problems? I live in a 2-story townhouse and I’d like to teach him to climb the stairs so that he occupies more than 1/2 the house — I would like him to be with me. I call him but he won’t go up the stairs. I’d also like to teach him to get into my truck — I cannot lift him, he weighs 60 pounds — I would like him to go places with me and enjoy the ride. He fights me when I try to get him in the truck.

He loves to go for walks. Right now I use a 15′ retractible leash with the prong collar but he does not pull. When I use that or the 6′ he walks on a loose leash.
I cannot drag him up on the box using “climb” like you recommend in your book (Get in the Car, page 136).

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Hi, Elizabeth:

What I recommend is: Use the 6′ leash. Start with a smaller platform and teach him to get up on the box. (Don’t use a high platform like I’m using in this video… but you’ll have to make him get up there, like I do in the video below).

It’s a constant pull, and then you relax the leash, as soon as he’s up there. Start with a very low platform, say the command and then make him get up there. Have a friend help you if you need to, in the beginning– but the trick is: Make him get up there, and fast. Stand on one side of the platform if you need to and pull. At 60lbs., it should be that big of a deal. Drag him up there if you need to.

If he likes food, you can reward him once he’s up there.

After you’ve got him jumping up on command to the one platform, then take him to a higher platform. You can do the same with your truck: Put the platform next to the truck and initially, make him jump first to the platform then into the truck. Later you can back the truck up to the curb and have him jump from the curb into the truck, and then eventually transition to the ground– up to the truck.

As for walking up stairs… it’s pretty much just the heel. Lock your arms down to your groin area with the leash folded in half, and walk… up… the… stairs. Do not stop walking. The idea (from the previous climb exercise) is that the dog learns that moving in the direction that you’re pulling will relax the tension on the leash.

You can also try letting him see you prepare his food, and then put the food up on the fourth step.