Scary Scales

by Abby Tarleton-Hodgson // April 2018

Ever taken your dog to the vets, and when the vet asks you to pop your pup on the scales they become anxious, put on the breaks and no matter how hard you try, they will not even to entertain the idea of stepping anywhere near those big scary scales? Sound familiar?

Well, don’t worry; we are going to talk through a way of really helping your dog out with those scary scales!

We want our dogs to make the choice to go and step onto those scales and be happy and confident whilst doing it!


First, you will need a handful of tasty treats,(Read our Working for treats blog for some helpful tips on what to use!) and an odd texture, you could use an old bit of carpet, a collapsed cardboard box, some bubble wrap, cork board, foam flooring? Be imaginative, what other things can you think of?

Once you have got these and your chosen texture is on the floor, all you need now is your dog, and you are ready to start!

Use some of your treats and places some onto the texture that you have on the floor in front of you, keep repeating this until your dog is happy to eat the treats off the texture.

Once they are happy with that step, you are ready to move on…

Hold your treats in your hand and use them like a magnet. Put the treats towards your dog's nose, and gently move your hand towards the texture to try and encourage your dog to step onto the texture, remember to reward to each little step closer. You could start by wanting just one foot on the texture, then progress to two front feet, two back feet and so on…

If your dog starts to show signs of not being interested in the treats then just have a think, ‘are these treats really tasty?’ If you think you have something else they will work for then try that! Or have you set your expectations a little too high and the game has gotten too hard for your dog? If this is the case then you just need to go back a few steps, so go back to rewarding on the texture and then see if you can progress on slowly from there.

Once we have our dogs standing on the texture happily and confidently then we are ready to move on.

We need to see what else we can encourage them to stand on, this could be more of a platform, like the scales that you would see at the vets, we use cardboard boxes in our class, they don’t have to be high, they just have to be able to get their whole body onto the chosen platform.

Repeat the process again and start as if you are introducing a new texture for your dog. Remember to go back a couple of steps if your dog is struggling.

We want our dogs to; happily and confidently stand onto the platform. Once we have our dogs standing on the platform, you can then progress on… ask for a sit, down, paw, whatever tricks your dog knows! By doing little bits of training whilst they are on the platform this will help to build their confidence.

See, not that scary!

You could build this up every week by trying a new texture for your dog, a new platform to train on; this will really help them for their next visit to the vets when they face those scales!

Don’t forget you can always pop into the vets just to get your dog weighed, this will help them be more confident as they won’t be getting any nasty needles, it would just be a new environment to practice your new platform training!

If you would like to learn more about platform training and confidence building games with your dog why not join us for our dog school courses here at Darlington or Coulby Newham. We use up to date, scientifically proven positive training methods in our classes.

 We also hold presentations which explain more about how dogs learn and up to date information on training and understanding your dog.

For more information please contact us

Telephone 01325 331430 or 01325 331431.