My new house has stairs, and my puppy Tuffy is so tempted to take the stairs, plus he follows me everywhere.
I just cannot control his actions, and I have heard puppies should not use stairs. It may cause problems. But, I wasn’t sure about it.
Therefore, I spoke to the vet and got all the necessary information, and wrote this article to help other pet owners who have similar doubts.
It will help you to know what is the right age for dogs to climb stairs, how to make stairs a safe place for them, and many more.
If you want to solve your queries, then go through the article now!
What is the right age for a puppy to start taking stairs?
Dogs come in a variety of sizes and shapes, which affects when they can start utilizing stairs. However, if we generalize, a puppy can begin climbing after crossing the 12-week.
Some puppies might take more time, and a few of them may climb stairs early.
Jumping or taking stairs can also lead to back injuries, and some dog breeds are already prone to hip dysplasia. Therefore, it is vital to prohibit such activities for them.
Such dogs can start taking climbs only when fully grown, nearly when they have crossed one year. By this time, they must become strong enough to tackle problems with safety.
Few owners think it is okay to let puppies use stairs when they are young. But, it is not safe, and you will learn the reasons in the next section.
Why is it not a good idea for pups to use the stairs?
Shape and age
As per the studies, in the majority of the cases, dogs who start climbing stairs at a young age face hip dysplasia in the future.
This is because when puppies start taking steps, it exerts too much pressure on the hips, and they cannot handle so much weight because their bodies are not entirely grown.
However, when puppies become dogs, the height of the stairs is not too high for them, and at that angle, much pressure is not applied to their bodies, especially the hips and legs.
Thus, it is best that puppies should avoid taking stairs at a young age.
In the case of larger dog breeds, the situation is worse. It is because of the extreme weight they carry while taking stairs. They can develop joint problems because of this.
Other than that, some dogs may not be able to handle their weight and can get injured.
There have been a bunch of new viral videos of adorable puppies falling from staircases. It may seem amusing to you, but it is dangerous. It may trigger anxiety, and they may panic the next time they see stairs.
Puppies are terrified of stairs from a young age, and we do our best to teach them how to use them. On the other hand, this has the possibility of eroding our faith at an early stage.
It happens because the puppies are not used to going upstairs. You may be trying to help them learn to take stairs. But they will interpret that you are trying to get them used to the scary stairs.
Thus, this may ruin your friendship with your pup. And can lead to psychiatric issues.
Moreover, if your dog goes down the steps, he will be terrified for the rest of his life. And, because of the trauma, it will be difficult for you to teach them how to use the staircase well.
Now that you know the cons of puppies using stairs, do you know how to make that place safe for them?
Learn more about that in the next section.
How to train a dog to climb stairs safely?
Before starting the training, it is vital for you to keep two things in mind: patience and confidence.
You have to understand that a puppy will take his own time to tackle stairs, and this means you should not be angry with them if they take a lot of time while training.
Next, confidence is not just crucial for your pup, but it is also essential for you.
It is because when you give your pup a command, he will entirely rely on you, and if you are not confident, he will eventually lose his confidence and get nervous.
Now that you have very well understood the key pointers, it’s time to learn how to train your pup to take stairs.
First, you have to instruct your dog to sit and stay. It will ease the entire process. Now, take the puppy to the bottom of the stairs.
Next, place some treats at the bottom of each step. Your puppy will start approaching the treat and attempt to climb the stairs.
Next, once the puppy has eaten his treats from the first and second stairs, you can also place a few more treats on the third and fourth stairs.
Keep practicing and increasing the steps count, and eventually, your puppy will start using the stairs. After successfully climbing all the stairs, praise him a lot( it kicks his confidence).
Moreover, you have to follow the same positive reinforcement method to teach them to get off the stairs. Just make sure that you don’t do things in a hurry. Take baby steps at a time.
Once your puppy gets used to taking stairs safely, you can stop giving them treats.
We cannot avoid stairs in our house, and eventually, your pet will also follow you there. So, what can be done to make the stairs safe for them?
In the next section, we’ll examine what we can do.
Tip: If your puppy falls, don’t panic! Instead, give him a treat. This will reduce the chances of creating accidental trauma in puppies.
How do make stairs safe for dogs?
We’ve listed six safety tips to assist you and your dog in making this stair climbing adventure an easy task.
If your dog can walk through the house without your help, he will also be able to climb stairs. But, make sure the staircase has enough light to improve his vision while climbing.
Better lighting can reduce the risk of an accident. Thus, you can place an LED bulb near the staircase.
To make the slippery surface non-slippery, you can put carpeted stairs. It will give paws a better grip, and your puppy will be safe while climbing.
If you don’t like the carpet, you can also go with invisible stair treads tape. It will help your pup to climb the stairs with ease.
Just like the carpet, it always offers a non-slip grip on each step of the staircase.
If you want entirely to prohibit stairs for your puppy, then you use the next step.
Inside your home, you can install baby gates. Safe gates that close automatically and can be used for both puppies and large dogs.
However, if you don’t want to spend money, you may just spread some aluminum foil on the staircase. When they walk on the foil, the sound that comes through the foil irritates them. And thus, your work is done.
You can also opt for a deterrent spray. It will help to prevent pets from climbing stairs, as they will remember the staircase from an unpleasant experience.
Carry your dog
Not necessarily all dogs can make up the stairs, especially those who have gone through surgery or have joint problems.
If he is huge and it becomes impossible to lift, ensure that you keep all the necessary items on the ground floor so that your dog doesn’t feel like using the staircase.
And, when you are not at home, you can simply block the stairs.
Trim their nails
Clip off the big nails of your dog to prevent them from slipping on the steps.
For instance, if your house has uneven steps, then your dog’s nails can get stuck, especially when they are long and wet. Thus, this can cause injury.
So, always regularly clip off your dog’s nails. If you don’t feel okay doing it yourself, you can seek professional help.
Then there’s a pair of toe grippers, which you can put on your dog’s nails. This will give him more grip and traction as he climbs the stairs.
You’ll also like them because they come in a variety of designs and colors. It’ll appear as if your dog just had a pedicure, hehe!
The only downfall of this method is that you have to keep changing the grippers when they are worn down. But, just ensure you invest in good quality and durable grippers only.
Some breeds must altogether avoid using stairs. If your dog also belongs to that category, then make sure not to let them use the stairs.
Now, let’s know who those breeds are in the new section.
Which breeds cannot climb stairs?
The dog breeds on this list should either take fewer stairs or avoid them altogether.
This breed can climb steps, but they must not do this more often, especially without your supervision.
Due to their body shape, it becomes hard for them to take stairs. They have a long body with tiny legs, so a lot of pressure is exerted in the front when they climb.
Similarly, Dachshunds also have long bodies and short legs, and they also face issues just like Bassett hounds. Climbing stairs will be too stressful for their spines, potentially resulting in injury.
Did you know the Dachshund breed name is also known as “sausage dogs” because of their body structure?
Corgis are large dogs with a tendency to develop hip dysplasia. Their entire body weight will rest on their hips as they mount the steps, causing agony and even lasting harm.
What to do if the dog falls off the stairs?
Sometimes it is not possible to always keep an eye on your dogs. Therefore, they may bump and slide off the stairs.
But, how to know if they have fallen off the steps and what next to do?
Well, have patience and read this segment. It will help you a lot.
If you have seen your dog falling on stairs, then observe him for a few days. Some injuries are noticeable right away, while others don’t show up until hours later.
If you missed and failed to see him falling, check the following indicators.
- Your pet will hesitate to take the stairs or walk
- Will feel pain while rising or lying
- Stiff gait
- Breathing difficulties
- Feel lethargic
- May avoid eating food because of the pain.
If your dog faces a breathing problem after falling, then without wasting a single second, take him to the vet.
If the wounds are visible and bleeding, make sure to clean them as soon as possible. This will reduce contamination.
Note: if the blood occurs for more than 5-15 minutes, that means something is serious.
If the spleen or liver are wounded, severe bleeding may result, necessitating immediate medical attention.
Inspect whether his head is injured or not. If you see blood in his eyes, nose, or mouth, it means his head is injured and must be addressed immediately to your vet.
If he had a back injury, then he must be kept motionless as much as possible.
You can keep the dog on a still surface (board) or simply use a baking sheet. Cover them and take them to the vet.
Jaw fractures are not always visible injuries. Keep an eye on what your dog eats and drinks.
In case he avoids eating, whines a lot, drools more, or faces difficulty while chewing, then take him to the vet.
Moreover, keep an eye on his eliminations. Seek medical assistance if he hasn’t urinated in 24 hours.
Well, that’s a wrap!
Please make sure to build patience while teaching dogs how to take stairs. Some puppies may take longer to learn new things than others.
And you must also make sure they climb under your supervision. It will reduce the chances of accidents, plus your dog will be confident enough while climbing stairs.
If your puppy has wholly turned into 12 weeks, then you can let them take the stairs. Their bodies are wholly grown, and the bones become more robust by this time. Thus, they can take their body pressure while climbing.
If you know of any other measures to teach dogs to use stairs safely, do let us know in the comments.
Dr. Aram Baker has been with Santa Clarita Animal Hospital since 1995 and his special interests include behaviour medicine and dermatology. He graduated from the Cleveland Humanities Magnet Program in Reseda, CA and attended California State University at Northridge where he received a Bachelor’s degree in biology. He went on to pursue his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at the University of California at Davis. He also spent time in the zoological medicine department at U.C. Davis during his Junior and Senior years. He is dedicated to caring for all pets big or small, young or old with compassion, patience, kindness, and love.