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Do Dogs Understand Elevators? Interesting Explanation

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

dog inside the elevator looking up

Do Dogs Understand Elevators? Interesting Explanation

Dogs are intelligent animals with powerful senses and a strong awareness of their environment. They often surprise us with their understanding of the world around them, but one concept that they may not be able to grasp is what an elevator does.

While dogs might not understand elevators fully, they can adapt to them and comfortably use them for navigation over time. Keep reading as we look into what a dog might experience when they get on an elevator.

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A Dog’s Perception of Elevators

While a dog may not understand how an elevator works or even what’s happening when the door is closed, their acute senses can give them a good clue. Their hearing likely tells them that mechanics are operating, and they will be able to feel the vibration and movement in their body. It’s also likely that their sense of smell will alert them to the fact that they are moving and getting farther away from smells that were nearby when they entered the elevator.

Through repeated exposure, a dog can form connections between entering an elevator and a specific outcome and might even connect it with going for a walk or another fun adventure.

dog with the owner inside the elevator
Image Credit: Alexander_Evgenyevich, Shutterstock

Why Is My Dog Scared of Elevator Doors?

Many dogs can seem frightened of elevators, especially at first, largely due to the doors that open and close suddenly. Elevator doors and the elevator itself can also be noisy, depending on how old the system is. However, most dogs will become more comfortable with repeated exposure.

Tips for Getting Your Dog Used to Riding on an Elevator

  • Start by bringing your dog near the elevator without entering it, to let them sniff around and get used to the sounds that it makes.
  • If they seem frightened when you get close, reassure them, and provide plenty of positive reinforcement in the form of treats and praise to help them relax, but don’t force them to get too close, or you might scare them more.
  • Repeat steps one and two until your pet is relaxed and comfortable around the elevator.
  • Desensitize your dog to the elevator doors by practicing opening and closing them while your dog is nearby.
  • Once your dog is comfortable with the elevator doors, practice entering and exiting the elevator with your dog on a loose leash, paying close attention to how your pet is responding. Step back out and try again if your dog seems to be getting scared.
  • When your dog is confident entering and exiting the elevator, it’s time to take a short ride. Start by going one floor at a time to keep the ride short so your pet can adjust. Then, gradually increase the duration and frequency of the rides as your pet shows signs of being comfortable.
  • Practice using the elevator with your dog regularly to reinforce their training and build confidence.
  • Be patient and understanding, as it can take some dogs a long time to be comfortable riding an elevator.
  • Once your dog is comfortable using one elevator, gradually introduce them to other elevators in different locations, as this will help make riding elevators a standard part of their day.

man with labrador dog inside the elevator
Image Credit: Maples Images, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Safe to Ride an Elevator With My Dog?

Riding an elevator is perfectly safe for your dog as long as they are comfortable and secure.

Should I Carry My Dog or Let Them Walk Into the Elevator?

The choice of whether to carry your dog onto the elevator will depend on their personality and size. Experiment with what works best for your pup to help make them more comfortable.

Can I Bring My Dog on an Elevator With Other People?

Dogs can ride the elevator with other people if those people are comfortable with it and don’t have any allergies to pet dander. The dog will also need to be comfortable around people and have the training to not jump or bark.

mixed breed shepherd dog looking confused inside the elevator
Image Credit: Alex Zotov, Shutterstock

What If My Dog Has an Accident in the Elevator?

Accidents can happen, especially if your dog is afraid or not fully housetrained. It’s a good idea to keep cleaning supplies, which can include paper towels, pet-safe disinfectant, and doggie bags, with you at all times when you are out with your pet. A high-quality enzyme cleaner can also help remove stains and odor. Packing a portable potty pad or taking your dog for a bathroom break before riding the elevator can also help reduce the number of accidents and make them easier to clean up.

Should I Leash My Dog in the Elevator?

Most experts recommend using a leash in the elevator to help ensure your dog’s safety and prevent them from wandering and jumping on other passengers.

What If My Dog Gets Anxious or Stressed in the Elevator?

If your dog gets anxious or stressed in an elevator, the best thing to do is remain calm and provide reassurance through soothing words, gentle petting, and treats. Consider taking a break from elevator rides and gradually reintroducing them if your dog is having an especially hard time.

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While it’s unlikely that your dog knows exactly what’s going on whenever they enter and leave an elevator, their many senses will help them at least understand that it is taking them to a different place. They can hear the noise, feel the movement, and likely even be aware that they are farther away from scents that were just close by.

Once they get comfortable riding an elevator, they will understand that there is no danger and learn where the machine is taking them, even if they don’t know how or why. If your pet seems afraid, introduce the elevator slowly with gradually longer rides and plenty of positive reinforcement to help them feel more comfortable.

Featured Image Credit: mmfocus, Shutterstock

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