How to keep your dog safe in lifts: Advice from our lift expert

Here at Sheridan Lifts, we’ve issued a warning and advice on the safety of dogs in lifts – after repeated incidents of our furry friends being put in grave danger are being reported on across the globe.

In 2023, an 11-year-old Brazilian boy was hailed as a hero after helping to prevent his puppy from being strangled by her own collar, and potentially losing her life, after her leash got stuck between the doors of a lift.

Cameras captured her being dragged to the ceiling, which is what often happens to dogs in similar situations. While this pup was saved, unfortunately, many dogs lose their lives in these incidents.

As the UK’s leading independent lift company, we want to inform dog owners or handlers that there are a number of factors that contribute to the perils dogs face in lifts, and have issued advice about what to be aware of and how to minimise the risk of accidents.

What should you consider when taking your dog in a lift?

Daniel Sheridan, Operations Director at our UK-based lift installation and maintenance company, said the key things to consider are:

  • Doors closing quickly
  • Leashes and tails getting caught
  • Startling noises or movements
  • Crowded lifts
  • Malfunctions
  • Proper handling 
  • Poorly maintained lifts
  • Staying calm

Daniel said: “Dogs are at risk in lifts for a number of reasons, and the truth is that while it might seem like a simple thing to do, there are a number of things dog owners should be aware of before taking their pet into a lift, because most accidents are unexpected.

“No-one wants a tragedy to occur and we all feel heartbroken when we hear of them happening – bfollowing these guidelines and being responsible and considerate dog owners, you can help to ensure the safety and comfort of your dog when using lifts.”

Here’s how to keep your dog safe in a lift

Doors closing quickly and leashes and tails getting caught

Daniel said: “Some lift doors can close quite rapidly, taking people by surprise. If a dog isn’t fully inside when the doors begin to close, there’s a risk of it getting caught or injured. Dogs may also not react quickly enough to avoid danger.

“While dogs and their tails can get caught, so can leashes, and this is something that is more common. It often happens when owners let their dogs walk in behind them without a hold on the leash, or when dogs follow owners inside unknowingly. Dogs can get their leashes caught while they’re inside the lift, or outside of it – and if this happens the owner may not be able to help.

“When entering a lift, either pick up your dog and its leash. Or, walk into the lift with your dog at your side, or in front of you, with a firm grip on the leash. If a lift starts moving while a leash is caught it can cause serious injury and death. A lead that can be quickly unclipped from a collar or harness may help in these situations. If it does occur, press the door open button and the emergency alarm button immediately.”

Startling noises and movements

The sudden movement and noise associated with lifts can startle dogs. Daniel added: “These jolts and sounds can panic dogs and cause them to behave unpredictably. A frightened or anxious dog might try to escape, potentially running out of the lift into a dangerous situation. 

“If your dog isn’t accustomed to riding in lifts, it may help to get them used to it gradually. Start with short rides and gradually increase the duration. Another option is to offer treats and positive reinforcement to create a positive association with riding in lifts.”

Crowded lifts

The expert said: “In crowded lifts, there may not be enough space for a dog, leading to a risk of your pet being stepped on or accidentally kicked by others. This can be particularly concerning for smaller dogs. If there are stairs and you’re able to use them, it might be a better option during busy times.”

Proper handling

According to Daniel, some people may not be familiar with how to handle dogs in lifts. He continued: “Some owners may allow their dogs to roam freely or not use leashes, which can lead to chaotic situations. Never assume that your dog will be calm and predictable in a lift, the most important part is getting the dog inside safely and ensuring you have full control when walking in.

“If your dog is small enough for you to handle or use an appropriate carrier with and you know this makes them feel more comfortable and at ease, do so.”

Lift malfunctions and emergency processes

Daniel warned that owners need to be aware of the possibility of lift malfunctions. He said: “Lifts can occasionally malfunction, getting stuck between floors or breaking down, leading to people being stuck inside. 

“These unexpected events can be distressing for dogs and pose risks to their safety. They’re situations you think you might never find yourself in, but try to always be prepared for them, for example by having water or treats on you should you be stuck for a while. 

“Look for the emergency alarm when you get in so you know where it is, and if you use one lift regularly, you can even familiarise yourself with how to open the doors manually in case of an emergency. This knowledge can be crucial if your dog or its leash gets caught in the doors.”

Avoid poorly maintained lifts or those in bad condition

“Be cautious if you notice any signs of lift malfunction or strange noises,” said the expert. “It’s best to avoid using lifts that appear to be in poor condition to ensure the safety of both you and your dog.”

Stay calm

Finally, dogs can pick up on their owner’s emotions. Daniel advises owners to stay calm and relaxed in lifts, as your dog could become anxious if they sense your unease.

There are multiple reports from all over the world that detail dogs getting caught in lifts. 

In 2021 a dog was seen hanging in the air outside a lift in Moscow, after the owner went inside, and the doors closed, while the dog was still outside. Thankfully, it was saved after a by-stander lept into action.

Unfortunately, not all of these situations end well. It was reported that a dog was choked to death in Hong Kong in 2023 after its leash got caught in the doors of a lift. A dog walker had taken three dogs into a lift, but one was left behind.