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Canine Behavior/My skittish yellow lab


Yes I am the second owner the previous owner stated they never abused him . But he is very skittish about doorways and stairs he is very afraid to enter and exit through any of our doorways and the stairs inside the home nd outside he is afraid of. What should my family and I do to help him get over this? HELP

Hi Imperia -

Sorry to hear you are having problems with your pup. Try to make doorways and stairs a positive experience for him. With doorways try sitting on the floor with treats. The dog will be on one side of the doorway, you on the other. You don't want to yank him through the door on a leash. Every step forward toward you through the doorway, praise and toss or place a treat. Then scoot back a bit. Keep this up until the dog comes through the doorway (his own choice) and approaches you for treat. It is interesting to note that some dogs dislike certain surfaces (i.e. carpet to tile) so try to take notice if it is fear of the actual doorway or the transition of surfaces. With stairs, practice towards the top. You may want to have a helper further down on the staircase (just in case) start on the third or fourth stair from top. You will be on top landing with treats. The dog might freeze at first so be encouraging with praise and let him know you have treats. As he gains confidence start placing him further down the staircase (with a helper and you at the top) so he has to climb more stairs. Continue until he is no longer afraid. I am assuming its climbing stairs that is the problem. Practice in reverse if he's also afraid going down.  As a side note, stairs that are see-through, like many decks and cellars are very scary for dogs so please work at your dog's pace. If you force him into a situation he is uncomfortable with, the problem will become worse, not better. Good-luck!

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Jennifer Ganser, LMT, ABCDT


For canines I can answer questions related to behavior, obedience training, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) For equines I can answer questions related to behavior, barn management, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) I am not a veterinarian and it is not within my scope of practice as a licensed massage therapist or certified dog trainer to diagnose health conditions. Please contact your pet's veterinarian for illness related questions and emergencies.


I am a licensed massage therapist for people, horses, and dogs and a certified dog trainer. I teach group obedience classes as well as private lessons. I also work with horses and help barns establish good management practices.

Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) National Certification Board of Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)

2009 - graduate of Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy 2010 - certified in canine/feline first aid + CPR by Red Cross 2012 - graduate of Post University equine program 2012 - graduate of Animal Behavior College Obedience program

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