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Do stairs really hold hidden dangers for your puppy? Could they actually be harmful to his or health, cause them serious injury, or in exceptional circumstances, even kill them?
You bet they can!
It should not surprise you to learn that many puppies consider going up and down stairs a daunting experience. Next time you go up some stairs take a long, hard look at them from your puppy’s point-of-view. Notice the size of the riser, and then compare it to the size of your puppy. Now imagine you had a dozen stairs to climb and were the height of your puppy. Would you not also find them a bit intimidating? However, it is not just the dangers of climbing “mount staircase” that threatens your puppy’s health.
What Age Can Puppies Climb Stairs Safely?
In most instances, a healthy puppy should not be introduced to stairs until he or she is at least 12 weeks old. However, for some large dog breeds like the retriever, Labrador, Staffordshire terrier, and some shepherd dogs you should wait a lot longer. These large breeds are prone to hip problems. Expecting them to manage stairs at 12 weeks old could make any existing or inherent problem worse. If you have a large breed puppy then it is best to gate off the stairs until they are older. Both Chewy and Amazon offer a great range of pet specific stair gates for all budgets.
If in doubt, consult a vet, dog breeder, or animal shelter for information that is specific to your dog.
Making Stairs Safe
One of the biggest dangers your puppy faces from stairs is injuries resulting from tumbles and falls caused because he is unable to keep his grip. These accidents are most commonly caused by polished or waxed hardwood stairs, which can be extremely slippery for your puppy.
Should your puppy slip and fall from any step on a hardwood staircase, then the resulting injuries can have serious consequences. Any sprains and broken bones could mean expensive vet bills for treatment. In some instances, a full recovery may not be possible. Your puppy could be burdened with serious health problems in later life, or even be killed as a result of his fall.
Even if your puppy does not have an accident, slippery stairs can seriously damage his confidence, making training him a lot harder. If your home has hardwood stairs, consider fixing some padding or carpet to them. You can always remove it when your puppy has been trained and is more confident with going up and down stairs. Head to Amazon for a great range of non-slip options.
Could the Biggest Danger Your Dog Faces Be You?
Many owners think playing games like fetch on the stairs with their dog is a bit of harmless fun. Yet, what starts as a fun game can quickly become a disaster, as your dog could easily lose his footing and take a tumble.
As already explained, an awkward fall can lead to all kinds of sprains, muscle injuries, and even your dog’s death. As a responsible owner, you must encourage your dog to use stairs properly at all times. Do not let him navigate the stairs when you are not present, if necessary install a pet gate (shop on Chewy / shop on Amazon) to keep your dog safe. Walk him up and down stairs slowly, and with his lead or harness (shop on Chewy / shop on Amazon) on, so you are always in control. Never let him jump and bounce up and down the stairs two or three steps at a time.
Are stairs dangerous for your puppy? The simple answer is yes. They can be dangerous and if a puppy has a bad incident at an early age it can cause a long term fear of stairs. Make sure you take steps to keep your pup safe, so they grow up happy, healthy and confident dogs.