Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stairs: Going up, Going down

At nearly 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing 72 pounds and being mostly legs I have not exposed Melissa to steps other than those that go into my van…..the top ‘step’, the running board and the ground. I have helped her entering and exiting the van. A few weeks ago she learned how to exit the van on her own, slowly at first. Now she comes out of the van quickly once she is released from her crate. She still needs a boost from behind to get into the van. It seems she isn't sure what her back legs are doing!

She has gone up and over curbs, and has been exposed to a grid in agility where she had to walk thru while placing each foot in between the pvc openings. I have given her lots of free running to develop muscle and coordination while playing with other dogs. I have not practiced any precision work, she has been too immature. Climbing a flight of stairs requires precision. She is a large breed growing at a rapid rate. One week she looks higher in the rear, the next week she appears balanced, and a few weeks later she looks high in the rear again.

Lately however, Melissa seems to have more coordination. She turned 6 months of age a few days ago. Her front and rear seem to have caught up with each other….for these few weeks at least! Last weekend we were at a training workshop. We entered the training building by using the stairs. I approached the stairs ready to help Melissa if needed. But Melissa was ready. With a treat from my hand to get her started, she climbed each step with confidence and strength.

Is she ready to climb every flight of stairs we will encounter in the years to come? Probably not. The stairs we used over the weekend were made of cement and had solid walls on each side. Another flight of stairs will look different to her, there may be an opening on one side, a banister, or the steps may have opening where you can look through to the bottom.

Dogs are very visual. I am taking into consideration Melissa’s growth pattern and also how she envisions the environment. I will continue to expose her to many different surfaces, sights and sounds, objects, obstacles and people so she continues to develop into a confident young Borzoi. No need to force her to do anything, we are developing a trusting relationship that will last a lifetime. Her physical and mental maturity will let me know when she is ready to try a different set of stairs among other obstacles she will face in everyday life. Thanks to my friend Liz for taking these photos.

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