Can Puppies Climb Stairs? [And Should They]

Puppies are curious and adventurous by nature. They enjoy experimenting with new objects and games. There is no better sight than when a puppy has just arrived home and is still exploring. It’s common for pups to be fascinated by new obstacles, such as stairs. This leads us to wonder, can puppies climb stairs? Or the better question is, should they? 

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Puppies can, without a doubt, climb stairs. It doesn’t matter how big or small the puppy is, most puppies can climb stairs within a month or so after being born. This does not, however, imply that they should do it simply because they can.

According to studies, puppies who began climbing the stairs before the age of 12 weeks are more likely to have hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a congenital condition in which the ball and socket around the hip rub and grind against each other, causing pain in your dog. Mastiffs, Retrievers, Staffordshire Terriers, Shepherds, Rottweilers, St Bernards, and Bulldogs are the breeds most commonly affected by Hip Dysplasia.

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Aside from hip injury, letting your puppy go up and down the stair before 12 weeks can lead to accidents that can be fatal. It can also cause psychological effects to your pup if they get injured while going down the stairs like fear or anxiety. This can happen after they accidentally stumble while going down the stairs or if they heard a loud noise when they were on the stairs and think the sound came from the stairs. 

As a general rule, small to medium size dogs should only be allowed to go up and down the stairs when they reach 12 weeks of age. While large dogs should only be allowed after 16 weeks as they are more prone to hip injuries and take longer to mature. Before that, puppies should be safely carried up and down the stairs.

That’s the quick answer, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Continue reading to learn more about puppies and stairs.

When should I begin training my puppy on how to use the stairs?

In general, it is not recommended to introduce a puppy to stairs until he or she is between the ages of 12 and 16 weeks old and completely confident on their legs. However, an older dog who did not quite get the hang of climbing the stairs at a young age will develop extreme anxiety about mounting the stairs, refusing to accompany their owner upstairs, or visiting houses with a lot of steps, which is not a good thing.

Training your puppy one step at a time can be a huge job for any puppy, regardless of age, and it can take months for them to perfect the art of properly climbing stairs. Allowing your dog to climb one or more steps, such as those on a porch or patio, on a regular basis even before they reach their 12th week will help them gain confidence in conquering stairs and will have very little negative impact on their health and stamina.

As a rule of thumb, keep your dog away from large sets of stairs (such as those leading to a higher story in the house) until they’re old enough to limit the risk of harm.

Why are stairs dangerous to my puppy’s hips?

Hip dysplasia, a joint condition in dogs, refers to the incorrect development of the hips. The hip joint in these canine buddies will not be as tight, resulting in unstable hips. If left untreated, scar tissue and bone spurs will develop, which will cause the hips to grind every time your puppy walks. 

The development of hip dysplasia is related to a number of factors, but stair climbing is one of them. To better understand why, let us compare an adult dog and a puppy climbing up and down the stairs. 

Adult dogs will always notice the level of the stairs beneath their hips. The height of the stairs, on the other hand, will almost always be higher than the level of the hips in puppies. As a result, they must stretch their bodies to be able to ascend the stairs, putting too much pressure on their hip bones, which can cause them to move. Larger breeds are more problematic because their bodies are heavier.

German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, French Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Great Danes, Basset Hounds, and Pugs are among the breeds most prone to hip dysplasia. 

What’s the best way to train a puppy to use the stairs?

It’s simple to train a dog to use the stairs. Here’s a step-by-step guide on teaching your dog how to climb the stairs:

  1. Gather some treats and place them on the bottom two or three steps to begin.  Begin at the bottom as climbing up is much easier for puppies.  Don’t leave your puppy in the middle of the stairs after carrying him up.
  2. Encourage your dog to gradually climb the stairs taking each step at a time. After they have done this successfully, place a few more treats higher up and repeat the process. Make sure you follow your dog up in every step.
  3. Continue the process until they have completely climbed to the top of the stairs. Make sure that you reward your puppy for any steps they have cleared successfully as this will reinforce their belief that they have nothing to fear.
  4. When your dog reaches the top, be sure to applaud him. Try to project confidence to your dog, no matter how frightened you are on the inside. They will quickly take up on your positive attitude and feel less anxious while attempting to climb stairs for the first time.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t let your puppy repeat climbing the stairs too much. Help your dog do it slowly and steadily without exhausting him. Once every 2 days is advisable to start.

There are also safety precautions that you can incorporate to make it easier and sfer for your dog to climb the stairs.

  • Make sure they are of the right age. 

While it is tempting to let them start at a young age and be advance, as what I’ve been repeating to you throughout this article, there is a certain age where they can safely start climbing the stairs 

  • Put Down Carpeting

Consider installing carpeting or a carpet runner in the middle of your hardwood stairs for your dog to use. It’s important to avoid any accidents: wooden stairs can easily cause your dog to fall, no matter how old he is.

You can also put pillows at the bottom of the stairway to keep him from falling to the ground on the last step.

  • Make sure your puppy has strong bones.

If you believe your puppy has weaker bones than normal, don’t force them to climb the stairs even if they are of the correct age. Ask your physician for prescription medications to help strengthen your puppy’s bones first.

Some dog breeds should never climb stairs, whether they are puppies or adults. For dogs with huge bodies and short legs, stairs are not recommended.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please take your puppy to the veterinarian straight away if he’s had an accident.

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