It’s frightening to see tiny puppies near a flight of stairs. They might stay by the wall crying or bravely approach the edge of the stairs. But when is it okay to let them climb the stairs?
At what age can puppies climb stairs? Each puppy is different in terms of their confidence and abilities.
Some puppies who are prone to hip dysplasia may have more trouble climbing up and down.
Find out the right age for puppies to climb the stairs and how to teach your puppy to use the stairs safely.
Learn about the dangers of a puppy around stairs and how to make the stairs safe for puppies.
At What Age Can Puppies Climb Stairs?
Ideally, your puppy can only start climbing stairs at around 12 to 16 weeks old on their own, or at the very least two months old.
By “on their own”, we mean totally confident on their legs but still requiring our supervision.
At this age, you will notice that they don’t feel scared or clumsy while trying to climb up and down the stairs.
This is usually the case if they have started taking on small, supervised steps at around 8 to 10 weeks of age.
Dog breeds that are more prone to hip dysplasia usually take a while to independently climb the stairs. These include:
- Great Dane
- French Bulldog
- German Shepherd
- Labrador Retriever
- Saint Bernard.
Puppies are naturally scared to climb stairs during the first few months, so you shouldn’t rush them into training they are not ready for.
But you will see them start to take small steps whenever they get the chance to be brave. While you do have to supervise them, you also shouldn’t panic too much because this is normal.
Be proud that they are starting to climb small steps at home. Panicking or showing fear will only make them associate the activity with stress or punishment.
If you see them climbing on your porch, let them. There is a low chance of them being in an accident with low stairs and small steps. Rather, it will help build their confidence!
If they can’t take small steps yet, you should just carry them upstairs and downstairs to avoid tumbling. Make sure they stay away from large staircases until they are at the right age.
Older puppies, or those who are 9 months old or more, are allowed to climb the stairs on their own without supervision.
You don’t have to support them anymore because their abilities are already fully developed.
Still, stop them from playing or running up and downstairs to avoid the risk of accidents.
At What Age Can I Teach My Puppy to Climb the Stairs?
You may notice your puppy taking small curious steps toward staircases at around 8 weeks.
But you should only start teaching them at 12 weeks when they are steadier on their paws. For some breeds, it can be a little later.
Don’t be afraid if you see your puppy attempting these small steps. If they do not learn this skill right away, they might develop anxiety every time they climb the stairs until they turn into adults.
Always keep an eye on your puppy as they begin to explore your home. And be aware of the dangers your curious pup may encounter.
The Dangers of a Puppy Climbing Stairs
The biggest danger your puppy might encounter when climbing the stairs is an injury caused by falls.
When puppies have not yet reached the appropriate age for taking on the stairs, they may lose their grip, become unbalanced, and fall.
This is also more likely to happen if your stairs are slippery because they are waxed and made of hardwood.
Puppy breeds that are more prone to hip dysplasia may also take more time to learn how to climb the stairs. The aftermath may be more severe for them if they fall.
Therefore, they should avoid climbing the stairs until they are around one year old.
What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia in dogs is a skeletal condition that usually occurs in large breeds of dogs.
Dogs with hip dysplasia usually get it from their genes, affecting the ball and socket mechanism in their hips that let them move.
With this condition, their ball and socket rub and grind one another, causing extreme pain.
Aside from hereditary factors, hip dysplasia can be caused by improper nutrition and improper exercise. For instance, obesity can stress out your dog’s joints and increase the risks.
Other factors that affect the development of hip dysplasia include:
- growth rate
- types of exercise.
Meanwhile, the symptoms of hip dysplasia include:
- decreased activity
- decreased range of motion
- difficulty climbing upstairs, jumping, or standing
- loss of thigh muscle mass
- enlargement of shoulder muscles that compensate
Talk to your vet if you notice any of these signs.
Learn more about this condition and how to tell if your dog has hip dysplasia here.
How to Teach Your Puppy to Use the Stairs
Teaching your puppy to use the stairs can be a difficult task. The most important tools you will need to have with you are patience and confidence.
You should prepare some treats to motivate your puppy with positive reinforcement techniques.
Try Wag Training Treats for Dogs! These tasty treats are available in chicken and peanut butter & banana flavors.
These bite-sized, chewy rewards are perfect for training. They’re also very healthy since they are free from corn, soy, wheat, and artificial colorings.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for teaching your puppy to climb the stairs.
Prepare the Stairs
Before anything else, you want to make sure that your stairs are small and non-slippery. Don’t go straight to a large set of stairs.
Try the small flight by your patio or porch first. You can also go for a carpeted staircase that has a landing.
If you don’t have these kinds of stairs at home, try visiting a friend’s house who has some stairs.
Start placing some treats on the bottom 2 or 3 steps. It’s important to start training them from the bottom up instead of going from the top to the bottom.
This will make sure that they are safe during the training.
It’s also much easier to go up than go down for a puppy new to stairs.
Let them walk up the first few steps once they see the treats and confidently follow them with your hands ready to guide or catch them.
You may place more treats on higher steps but take it slow.
Let them Walk on Their Own
Once they can manage a few steps at a time, take them back down and put treats on all the steps.
Let them go up the stairs to get the treats on their own. But make sure to stand behind them or place your hands behind them in case they trip or fall.
You also want to make sure you are quiet and not praising or scolding them as they navigate the stairs.
Once they have reached the top, give them verbal praises and more treats. This will help them become more excited and confident to use the stairs, taking away any fear of stairs they may have.
Going Down the Stairs
When training your dog to go down the stairs, stay by the stairs in front of them instead of going behind them.
This will help you assist them or catch them in case they tumble down.
The method is similar. Lure them with a treat as well. However, you want to hold the treat instead of placing it on the steps.
If they are still hesitant to go down, try using books to make the steps shallower.
Reward your dog with treats once they have reached the bottom floor. This will help start associating the stairs with enjoyment and rewards.
How to Make Stairs Safe for Puppies
Here are some quick tips to make the stairs much safer for your puppy.
Make the Stairs More Visible
Every time your puppy has access to the stairs, the lights need to be turned on so they can navigate the flight more easily.
This will improve visibility and let your dog’s natural cautiousness kick in. It’s especially helpful for dogs with poor eyesight, balance issues, or limited mobility.
Puppies are born with their eyes closed, and it takes a while before they can develop a full vision. Make sure they don’t go near stairs and other dangerous objects during this stage.
Keep Your Puppy Away from the Stairs
If your puppy is not yet ready to climb up and down the stairs, using deterrents can help keep your dog confined to safer areas of the house.
Pet-safe gates are the best tools for this.
For dog gates, we recommend Cumbor’s Auto-Close Safety Baby Gate. This baby gate is also perfect for puppies and even large dogs because it is 46-inch long.
This steel gate can withstand up to 150 pounds of a dog leaning on it! It also features a simple pressure mounting which makes it easy to install.
You can also try a retractable mesh safety gate for a different design. It’s a safe way to prevent your pup from accessing the stairs and other parts of the house.
It is 33 inches tall, so even most adult dogs can’t jump over it. This is easy to install, and the mesh gate retracts with a one-handed operation. You can even leave the mesh completely retracted when you don’t need it.
However, if you’re trying to save money, you can use tinfoil as puppies do not like its startling sound. Simply put one to three sheets of foil on the first few steps of the stairs.
For your peace of mind, combining dog gates and deterrents can send the message that your pup should not go near the stairs.
You can also use a command word and rewards to train them and keep them from climbing up and down the stairs.
Carpeted stairs or runners offer exceptional footing for you and your dog, avoiding slipping and tumbling down through the grips.
CrystalMX Non-Slip Carpet will help your dog slipping on the stairs. These stair treads are available in shades of brown, grey, and beige to fit the design of your home.
They have layers that are soft and comfortable on the feet. They are also perfect if you have a baby in the house.
If you want something invisible to keep the appearance of your stairs, use FINEHOUS Non-Slip Stair Treads Tape to assist your pup in climbing the stairs.
Like the carpet, it provides a non-slip grip on every step!
Other Puppy Safety Tips
Once your puppy’s growth and development are complete, their growth plates become sturdier, reducing the risk of injuries.
Growth plates are the soft parts of the young bone that grow.
Aside from stairs safety and training, here are other reminders for keeping your puppy safe.
Vaccinate Your Puppy
Safety is important if you want to let your dog explore their surroundings. Letting them visit different places and smell different objects will require them to be fully vaccinated first.
This is important especially if you are walking them through unfamiliar environments.
Vaccination will help prevent your dog from getting diseases that are viral and bacterial. These include canine distemper, respiratory tract infections, and parvovirus infection.
Vaccines also protect your dog from transmissible diseases like rabies, which may also affect you and other family members in the house.
Talk to your vet to ensure your puppy is completely up to date with their required vaccinations.
Jumping on and off Furniture
Jumping up and down on furniture can increase the risk of injury to your puppy.
For puppies aged 8 to 10 weeks, low furniture pieces are okay to jump on. Otherwise, you need to lift or assist them with support on their chest.
As with climbing the stairs, they should only jump on and off furniture at around 12 weeks old.
However, we don’t recommend tolerating this behavior. You can avoid this by crate-training them at a young age or teaching them to get off.
During puppyhood, the muscles must not be pressured too much since the joints and bones are still soft and developing. This may injure their growth plates and cause early ailments.
So, what should you do if your puppy keeps on running and playing too much? Remove the object or reward that’s making them overly excited.
For instance, if they get giddy when in the yard, take them inside after 5-10 minutes of play.
We have a guide on how long to play with your puppy each day which can be helpful to you!
Controlled exercise is key!
We also recommend not taking them on a run or jog around until they are around 18 months of age.
For puppies four months old and below, try short walks and playing with them using soft toys inside the house or the fenced yard.
Try Jalousie’s 5 Pack Dog Squeaky Toys that include a variety of plush toys, some of which have squeakers. It’s also safe to play with as a liner is added to the toy for durability.
Once they turn 4 to 8 months, they can go on longer walks outside if they are fully vaccinated. It’s also the best time to swim with them!
What Else Do I Need Before Getting a Puppy?
Preparing for your new puppy to come home is just like preparing for a newborn baby to arrive. It can be overwhelming yet exciting and worth the wait.
Some of the things you need to prepare to include puppy-proofing your home, shopping for essential supplies, and getting training tools.
Make sure you have a complete checklist of what you need for a puppy!
How Much Attention Do Puppies Need?
Some dog owners think they are not paying enough attention to their puppies, while others think they’re spoiling them.
When you have a puppy, it’s normal to give them extra attention because they are still learning about their routines, such as bathroom breaks and sleep.
They also need enough exercise and socialization with your help.
But too much attention may also lead to over-dependence and separation anxiety.
Learn how to balance your attention for your puppy so they grow into well-behaved, healthy dogs!
At What Age Can My Puppy Start Staying Outside?
This depends on your dog’s breed, health, and the condition of your yard.
You should let your puppy first grow to a size and weight that will let them withstand the elements.
At a young age, they can’t regulate their body temperature yet. This means they’ll either be too hot or cold when they stay outside.
If you can guarantee that your dog can safely live outside the house, then you need to know what age you can start letting your puppy stay outside.
Puppies Rise After They Fall!
Teaching your puppy to use the stairs is a time-consuming process, but it’s important to supervise them throughout! This will ensure their safety and confidence in climbing them.
You need to be careful about all of your puppy’s activities because their growth plates are still delicate and underdeveloped at this stage.
One example is puppy walking. Your puppy must be trained and vaccinated before they can go out for long walks.
Make puppy walks more fun by getting started with leash-training your puppy!