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Did a search for this, and while I found some old posts, I'd like any new input.   We are at the point that many of us get to:  13 year old BC who usually sleeps upstairs with us.  She injured and re-injured her back leg by jumping one step (I believe her depth perception is off) and then a few days later slipping on kitchen floor.  We have two places where she needs to negotiate one step, and those now have ramps.  We have rectified the slippery floors with carpet runners.  Up until now, the 15 steps to the upstairs have never been a problem. However, I (and the vet) have seen her losing muscle mass in her rear legs and she's just not as steady coming down the stairs.  I'm afraid she is going to fall.

It is probably time to do something about bedtime and the stairs.  There is a gate to the steps, and I can keep her downstairs overnight.  However, she will bark to come up.  I can ignore that, and probably (eventually) she will adjust to that and quit barking.  Emotionally, I worry about how hard that will be on her and it will be heart-breaking for me.  (My last old dog had to sleep downstairs a greater part of his life, and he adjusted fine -- however, he was a rescue and had never liked the steps to begin with.)  I just feel that we are probably more toward the end of life, and I hate for her to stress over not coming upstairs this late in life.

I'm married, and sleeping downstairs with the dog is not a good option.

I have also thought about the rear harness things with handles to help them up and down stairs.  I have never used one and am a little leery about whether it will help/work, or whether I may make the situation worse and send us both falling down the stairs.  She is a bigger border collie (45 pounds) and carrying her up and down is not feasible.

So I am wondering what others have done in this situation and if there are any new ideas. 

I also would like input on those rear harnesses, if they work, and what ones are the best.

I am now back to the point where I wish I had an elevator in my house.  We had thought about a chair lift, but the width of our stairway is too narrow for that to be feasible. 

thank you!

 

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Cressa is 15 years old. We live on the second floor. No elevator. I normally let Cressa decide. She did slip once(she acted fine afterward) since then I walk in front of her so if she start slipping again I can catch her. If she wants to be carried she just waits at the top for me to go back up and get her. 

I haven’t tried the rear support. Tbh I was hoping with her using the stairs it would help with muscle tone. So she wouldn’t loose more then she has.

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Fair warning, I've never had to deal with this. My idea is to get one of those lifting things and get her used to it NOW. Use it to help her around the house for a few minutes a couple times a day for a few days before you start on the stairs. Use her favorite treats, jolly talk, etc. Keep the first sessions brief.

IMO, if you get one of those supports and try to get her up the stairs with it right away, she'll be worried. If you train her to the use of it first, you'll have a better chance.

You can also contact the manufacturer, see if they have tips. You can also look at reviews on Amazon, (they probably sell that type of harness there) and see what users say.

I think at best it might help her maintain muscle tone, but probably not. If you're able to get her used to using it on the stairs, she'll be using those hind end muscles even less.

Good luck!

Ruth & Gibbs

 

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Senneca is 15 and recently had an attack of the wobbles, but the old lady is not ready to lie down just yet, so I very carefully support her with her harness, so if she stumbles, I take the weight. That way we get her upstairs and she still has the feeling of "I can still do it" pride. I know if I try to leave her downstairs, she'll howl with misery -- or more likely do her self harm struggling up by herself. It sucks to get old.

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Posted (edited)

Hi John

Is this just a regular harness?  And if so, do you just have your hand on the harness or do you attach a leash?

Also, I am more concerned with her coming down the stairs.  Do you find the harness helpful with that?

thank you!

Edited by beachdogz
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Cressa -

Thank you for your reply.  I never thought of this, but you are probably right;  the exercise will probably help with keeping as much muscle as we can.  Probably better than using a hind-end support just now. 

Although I think Ruth is correct in saying that if we do have to end up with that hind-end support, it should be started early to get the dog used to it. 

I never thought of a harness, as I have never used a harness with her.....but that might be a way I can steady her without the rear end thing.   

Well, you guys have given me enough courage to try to keep the steps as an option.  If anyone else has experience with this, I am still interested in hearing what other people have done. 

thank you all!

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Beachdogz I didn't understand that the issue is going down the stairs. You need to be very, careful with your own safety. If she stumbles she could pull you over and you could be injured badly. I'd practice a LOT with whatever  harness/collar/tools you use. And make sure whatever handrails you have on the stairs are very sturdy and stable. One of your hands is going to be holding on to that. Hard.

In fact, if it were me, I'd be practicing with something heavy-ish, maybe a packed suitcase, in one hand, going down those steps. BEFORE you start with her. And then practice with her.  And I'd make sure there's decent lighting so you can see the stairs. And that the treads aren't slippery.

Can you tell I've been injured on stairs?:unsure: My own fault, nothing to do with the dog.

Ruth & Gibbs

PS - get the hind end support now. Leave it in it's box until you decide to use it, but the change might be sudden. If you wind up not using it, you can return it. 

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Before buying something for hind end lift assist try out a towel, if you're happy with it there's lots of good options. Belly straps with handles work well for short term brief use, like your situation. 

Ruffwear makes some very good harnesses if you want to go the fancy route. This would be the Cadillac of lift assist: https://ruffwear.com/collections/dog-harnesses/products/doubleback-harness

Another option from ruffwear would be the Webmaster or the Flagline which are still pricey, but more affordable options. 

Of course lots of companies make very simmilar, more affordable harnesses that wouldn't be as overbuilt for your needs and would likely be fine. These are just the ones I'm most familiar with.

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I used a harness to help support my 17+ year old dog Tilly when she started to have trouble falling down and up stairs. She was small enough (about 36 lbs.) that I was able to stabilize her with for a long time till the back end became really weak. It was just a matter of taking just a slight bit of weight into my own hand so that when she stumbled I was able to prevent her losing her balance and falling down. I was just using an old fashioned basic harness that had wide straps that I was able to get a good grip on the back strap with. If I were buying one for that purpose now I'd make sure it's one with a good handle to hold onto like the Ruffwear one Rigby linked to.

I did order a Total Pet Health Lift & Go Lead for her when her back legs started to go out from under her, but unfortunately I never got to use it. The sizing instructions were completely wrong so I had to send it back for a replacement and it arrived 2 days after she died. One advantage to this harness is that the front and rear supports can be detached to be used separately if you only need to use one of them.  The one huge disadvantage is that the sizing guidelines are way off, which is the reason for many of the negative reviews. Unfortunately I can't remember now whether I needed to reorder a larger or a smaller size.

I ended up keeping it (though it's unopened) because I figured sooner or later I'd need it for Bodhi. Now that he's somewhere between 14 1/2 and 16 1/2 years old it looks like it's not going to be too much longer till I'll have to try it out. I'm not ready for that yet but I'm glad I have it for when I need it.

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Thanks for all the input.  I did order a lift harness, but with the way things are, it won't be here until mid May.  Until then we will be very careful.  She negotiated the steps coming down this morning quite well, almost looking normal. I feel comfortable with this choice of a harness.  Thank you everyone, and stay safe. :)

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@beachdogz, when we had an elderly dog with issues going down the stairs, we improvised a rear harness by using a towel. (A good sized bath towel is best depending on the size of the dog.) Just feed the towel under her belly and hold the top ends together to support her. It worked great for us and—for a dog who HATED to be helped—our girl wasn’t bothered by it. It’s worth a shot until you can get that harness. 

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14 hours ago, beachdogz said:

Hi John

Is this just a regular harness?  And if so, do you just have your hand on the harness or do you attach a leash?

Also, I am more concerned with her coming down the stairs.  Do you find the harness helpful with that?

thank you!

This is her normal harness*, that has a broad strap that goes under her chest. It also has a loop of webbing that has a ring threaded to attach a leash, but I am holding the loop -- no leash is attached while she is in the house. Yes, I also worry about her coming down the stairs, but currently she is able to manage herself quite well, so I do not help her at the moment. 

[Added: I should also emphasize that at this stage I am not lifting her, just catching her if she stumbles. ]

Note * : I managed to find an image of one. 

comfortflex-harness.jpg.8f7e5012d964eb4fb7e955778382e77b.jpg

 

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10 hours ago, jfaircloth said:

@beachdogz, when we had an elderly dog with issues going down the stairs, we improvised a rear harness by using a towel. (A good sized bath towel is best depending on the size of the dog.) Just feed the towel under her belly and hold the top ends together to support her. It worked great for us and—for a dog who HATED to be helped—our girl wasn’t bothered by it. It’s worth a shot until you can get that harness. 

Thank you!

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Ruby is 16 1/2 and still very active.  Our house is a rancher, so no stairs.  However, she now has trouble jumping in the van if it is in an enclosed space, such as in the garage next to the other car.  She wears a Ruffwear harness on her walks, and we simply hang on to the harness as she jumps and just give her a little boost.  We do the same when she jumps out.  At the park, she doesn't need the help because the light is brighter and there is more space.  I can see where going down stairs would be problematic however.  You will have to really slow her down so that she stays at your side.

 

Kathy Robbins

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  • 1 month later...

Hi!  Our old man, Kip, passed away in April at ~15 yrs old.  The previous summer, he blew out a knee and became non-weightbearing for a bit.  (He recovered, but not to the point he could ever do steps again.)  We live in an old house with slick hardwood floors...and very steep narrow steps to the cellar (where Kip liked to hang out when there was thunder, or when hubby was down there in his office/workshop space) and very steep/narrow tread steps to the 2nd floor where the bedrooms are.  We bought some of those interlocking black foam rubber floor mats that you can configure into different shapes, and just made "runways" around the house on the first floor for Kip, as they were quite inexpensive and not only gave him traction, but also served as comfy spots to rest.  We did buy and use one of those sling/harness thingies----it went about half the length of his belly and had a bit at the front that went across his chest....looked a bit like a horse blanket with luggage handles on top.  It allowed any one of us (me, hubby, or kids) to help Kip if he got stuck.  And, not long before he passed, we had tornadoes this spring...and we *had* to get him into the cellar...and then back out again.  Kip tried one disastrous last time to come up to get me while I was working (my office is upstairs) and I came out, not expecting to find him on the other side of the closed door to the landing, we startled each other, and he tried to hurry down the stairs (he was not allowed to hang out upstairs, even when his knee was good, because upstairs is the cat's domain) forgetting, I guess, that not all four legs worked, and tumbled down the last half of the stairs face first, ricocheted off the wall and bumped down the landing steps.  We all aged significantly in that 15 seconds.  (He was okay, not injured.)  I think the sling contraption was about $35 at Petsmart and worth every penny.  Kip was a big dog, 55ish pounds, so I'd not have been able to help him safely without a good handle.

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