If you have a puppy in your life, you likely want to protect them from potential danger in the world around them. Though we may assume they are safe in our home, there is one common threat that many pet owners are aware of: stairs.
Stares pose a risk to our growing canine friends, ranging from sudden injuries to developmental issues. In this article, we will introduce you to the reasons why your puppy should avoid stairs, and offer you tips to keep them safe going forward!
Are Stairs Dangerous For Puppies?
Stairs can be very dangerous for the growing canine friends in our lives. Not only can it take some time for a pup to get the hang of using stairs, but the action of going up and down the stairs can impact their joint health. ‘
To help you better understand the details of stair safety in your pup, let’s discuss the risks in detail below.
Just as toddlers could injure themselves on the stairs when left unattended, so can the puppies in our life. A puppy that has not yet mastered the stairs can easily take a dangerous tumble, leading to the possibility of serious injury.
Not only can puppies get hurt on the stairs themselves, but many puppies have taken a tumble through the railings of open staircases. With these serious risks on the table, you can begin to understand why our stairs can be so dangerous for puppies.
A puppy’s activity can have a direct impact on their joint health as they get older. Vigorous activity and physical stress during puppyhood is proven to increase the risk of joint conditions, and frequent stair climbing falls into that category.
Climbing up and down the stairs can put unnecessary stress on a puppy’s growing joints, increasing the risk of arthritis and hip dysplasia as they age. This can be dangerous for all puppies, but especially those who are predisposed to the conditions.
Will Stairs Hurt My Puppy’s Hips?
Frequent stair climbing can be risky for some of our beloved furry friends. As we just mentioned above, climbing the stairs is considered a strenuous exercise that can lead to future joint damage.
Hip dysplasia is a joint condition in dogs that refers to the improper development of the hips. The hip joint will not be as snug in these canine friends, causing the hips to become unstable. This instability will soon lead to the development of scar tissue and bony spurs, therefore causing the hips to grind with each step.
While many factors are known to play a role in the development of hip dysplasia, stair climbing could be one of them. This type of exercise during a growth period can interfere with the healthy development of the hips, increasing the risk of abnormal growth as time goes by.
Some of the breeds that are most prone to developing hip dysplasia include German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, French Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Great Danes, Basset Hounds, and Pugs. Genetics are already against these furry friends, and stair climbing can only exacerbate the risk of joint disease.
Even if your puppy’s breed is not listed, the riks is still on the table.
When Can Small Breed Puppies Climb Stairs?
In most situations, small breed dogs can be allowed to climb the stairs with supervision at 16 weeks of age. However, it’s important to consider their individual size when discussing the best time frame for safety.
Small breed dogs can range in size, with some towering over their other small breed friends. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide when you think stair climbing is no longer a strenuous task for your puppy.
Imagine standing next to a platform that comes up to your shoulders in height. Being asked to climb one structure that high would be challenging, let alone multiple in a row. Just be sure to look at the size of your puppy in comparison to the stairs when making the call at the end of the day.
It’s important to mention that if your puppy is considered at high risk of developing hip dysplasia, we suggest keeping them away from stairs until at least 8 months of age.
When Can Large Breed Puppies Climb Stairs?
In most cases, large breed puppies should be able to climb stairs safely once they reach 12 weeks of age. This is typically when stairs are no longer a strenuous activity, and when they can be trusted to avoid a scary tumble.
However, hip dysplasia and joint conditions are more common in our large breed furry friends. Because of this we suggest limiting their stair access as much as possible, only allowing them to climb the stairs when absolutely necessary.
It’s also important to mention that if your puppy is considered at high risk of developing hip dysplasia, we suggest keeping them away from stairs until at least 8 months of age.
Are Small Steps Safe For Puppies?
When discussing the potential dangers of stairs for puppies, we are not referring to small steps. A few small steps that allow entry to an outdoor space or different rooms should not be enough to cause harm to your growing puppy, as they are not as challenging for a puppy to conquer.
You should not have to worry about safety if your puppy is only facing 2-3 small steps each day. However, if your puppy is struggling with these steps, we suggest blocking them off until they have grown enough to master them
Why Are Puppies Afraid Of Stairs?
Even when our puppies are old enough to climb stairs safely, many are still too afraid to do so. Stairs can be extremely daunting for a growing puppy, especially if they are a small breed dog. While it may seem like a simple task to you and I, it can be nerve-wracking to a puppy that is still getting used to the world around them.
If your puppy is afraid to walk up or down the stairs on their own, it’s important to be as patient with them as possible. Making this a positive learning experience is essential in avoiding phobias as they grow older.
You can help your puppy conquer their fears by easing them into the activity with the use of encouragement and treats. Start by placing them on the first step, creating a trail of treats up the next 2 steps they will climb.If you repeat this process up the entire staircase, your pup should get the hang of it in no time.
When Can Puppies Have Free Access To The Stairs?
The answer to this question will vary from dog to dog. Even with the potential for joint complications aside, all it takes is one slip to lead to a serious tumble. It’s up to you to monitor your dog’s stair use as they conquer the activity, allowing you to assess their ability to get to the bottom safely.
For example, if your puppy has only climbed down the stairs one time on their own, this does not mean they should be allowed free access going forward. They have not yet mastered this activity, and are still at risk of potential injury going forward.
Once your puppy has shown you that they can climb and descend down the stairs multiple times, you can begin to allow them free access to the staircase when you are home. If you ever leave your dog at home unattended, we still advise blocking off the stairs until they are at least 6-8 months of age.
Though it may seem like a harmless activity, stair climbing can be risky for the growing furry friends in our home. Be sure to review the safety tips that we discussed above, and you can protect your pup from potential injury going forward!