Though we humans are very used to them, the elevator can be a confusing and sometimes challenging thing for dogs! It’s a small, enclosed space that not only puts the dog in close quarters with strange people and other dogs, but it moves in a way they have likely never felt elsewhere. For dogs who have never been exposed to them, it may be a stressful and anxiety inducing experience. But we’re here to help.
Introducing the Elevator
The first time you bring your dog into an elevator, have them focus on you and give them a treat or favorite toy. Give their treat/toy again when the elevator moves, as some dogs get spooked the most by movement. Some dogs who are especially nervous may even need extra coaxing to even walk into the elevator, we recommend practicing this at a time when the elevator is vacant, and with a partner who can help hold the door as your dog acclimates to entering and exiting.
Caution and Manners in the Elevator
After your dog is comfortable in the elevator, it’s important to remember proper etiquette for riding it as well. While waiting for the elevator, keep your dog close to you on short leash. You never know what might be coming out of the elevator, and you want good control of your dog for their safety and that of others.
NEVER allow your dog to rush off leash into an elevator. This behavior has resulted in canine and human injury many times in other buildings, and we strongly advise against it. When the elevator doors open (regardless of you being inside or waiting for it) don’t allow your dog to charge ahead, as again, you never know what might be on the other side. Hesitating until the coast is clear and walking out slowly can avoid any issues that may occur if another dog, toddler, cleaning cart, or delivery person meets you when the doors open.
Remember your “social distancing” rules in the elevator too! Get in the habit of taking your dog into a corner of the elevator and have them sit by your side. Don’t allow your dog to interact with anyone in the elevator, as they may get overwhelmed and nervous, or overexcited and jumpy. If your dog isn’t particularly fond of sharing small spaces with other pups, politely tell any neighbors looking to get on with a dog before they enter to help get ahead of a potential scuffle. In turn, make sure to always ask other dog handlers, or even people alone in the elevator, if they’re comfortable with you dog entering.
If Your Dog Still Struggles...
In the event your dog truly struggles with the elevator and panics or behaves in an unfriendly manner to others within the elevator, we suggest you seek out a trainer to help you with this behavior. This may be more urgent if you live on the 24th floor as opposed to the 3rd, but regardless your dog should learn how to behave appropriately to make your life, theirs and your neighbors’ less stressful. If your dog becomes snippy with others in close quarters, there is also no shame in investing in a basket muzzle (I recommend Jafco brand) for everyone’s safety for tense moments like elevators rides!
After some positive conditioning and training for some dogs who aren’t keen on the elevator, your pup is sure to be a savvy city dogs who enjoys riding in the elevator and sees it as a box that takes them to all their favorite places—home, walks, and the park!