Are puppies allowed to climb stairs?

This is a question that many puppy owners ask themselves. Many warn of joint damage from putting dogs under so much stress at such a young age. Others believe that climbing stairs is safe. This article will help you make the right decision.

Stair climbing
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A happy bark, a wagging tail, little paws scampering around the house - the arrival of a puppy brings life and joy to the home. But with joy comes many questions:

"Can puppies climb stairs?", "When is it safe for them to do so?" and "What if my dog is afraid of stairs? In this article, we'll get to the bottom of all these questions and give you practical instructions on how to teach your little friend to climb stairs safely.

When Are Puppies Allowed to Go Up and Down Stairs?

Opinions vary on when puppies can start climbing stairs, but in general, puppies should not learn to climb stairs until their bones and joints are sufficiently developed. This can be anywhere from three to six months, depending on the breed and the puppy's individual development.

Large breeds, which are more prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, should wait even longer, possibly up to a year. Smaller breeds can usually start climbing stairs earlier because they are less prone to certain orthopedic conditions.

Keep in mind that puppies go through different stages of growth and physical development at different rates. Therefore, any new development, such as climbing stairs, should be introduced gradually and with caution.

Consult a veterinarian for individualized advice on puppy development and the appropriate timing for stair climbing.

A gentle introduction to stair climbing and consideration of the puppy's individual development and health are critical to preventing injury and long-term damage. 

Is Climbing Stairs Dangerous for Puppies?

Puppy climbing stairs

Puppies are growing and their bones and joints are not fully developed. As a result, excessive stair climbing can cause damage. Here are some health factors to consider:

  • Race: Large breeds with a predisposition to hip dysplasia should be especially cautious.
  • Age: The younger the puppy, the more susceptible it is to injury.
  • Weight: Excess weight can put extra stress on joints and increase the risk of injury.

Climbing stairs can be stressful for puppies, especially when they are very young and their bones, joints, and muscles are still developing. Here are some reasons why climbing stairs can be harmful to puppies and what to watch out for:

Bone and Joint Development

Puppies have growth plates (epiphyses) in their bones that close and strengthen over time. Excessive stress from climbing stairs can damage these growth plates and lead to long-term orthopedic problems.

Large and Heavy Breeds

Large and heavy breeds are more prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. In these breeds, stair climbing should be avoided or at least minimized until the dog is about one year old.

Accident Risk

Climbing stairs also puts your puppy at risk for falls and accidents that can cause injury.

Incorrect Load

Walking down stairs is especially strenuous because of the stress it puts on the front legs and spine. Incorrect stair climbing technique can lead to injury and long-term damage.


Climbing stairs too often or too hard can lead to overexertion and fatigue, increasing the risk of injury.

What to do?

  • Veterinary advice: Consult a veterinarian before allowing your puppy to climb stairs, especially for large breeds and breeds with known orthopedic problems.
  • Slow introduction: If climbing stairs is unavoidable, introduce your puppy to stairs slowly and gradually, avoiding abrupt movements.
  • Wearing: For small puppies and small breeds, it may be helpful to carry your puppy up or down the stairs.
  • Non-slip pads: Use non-slip pads on the steps to prevent slips and falls.

Climbing stairs can be dangerous for puppies if not handled carefully. When in doubt, always consult a veterinarian to ensure your puppy's well-being.

Getting Puppies Accustomed to Climbing Stairs

Puppy stairs

Introducing a puppy to climbing stairs should be done gently and gradually. Here is a step-by-step guide to help your puppy do just that:

Step 1: Inspection of the stairs

Before you start, make sure the stairs are safe. They should not be slippery and there should be nothing on them that the puppy could trip over.

Step 2: Introduction to the stairs

Let your puppy explore the stairs at his own pace. Let him sniff and become familiar with his new surroundings.

Step 3: Reward his curiosity

Reward each small success and approach to the stairs with treats and praise to create positive associations.

Step 4: First stages

Encourage your puppy to step on the first step with his front paws. Reward him when he does. Repeat this a few times before moving on to the next step.

Step 5: Step by step

Take your puppy slowly, one step at a time. Give him time to get used to each new level and reward his progress.

Step 6: Step by step

Provide support by walking beside your puppy and gently guiding him. Avoid pushing or pulling.

Step 7: Short training sessions

Keep training sessions short and positive. Don't overwhelm your puppy with too many repetitions or too many steps at once.

Step 8: Repetition and consistency

Repeat the exercises regularly, but avoid overexertion. Consistency is the key to success.

Step 9: Backward training

When your puppy can get on safely, practice getting off. Be extra careful with dismounting as it is more difficult.

With patience, rewards, and consistency, your puppy can learn to climb stairs safely and confidently. Be sure to keep your puppy's individual needs and comfort in mind throughout the training process.

Problems Walking Down Stairs

Going down stairs can be more difficult for puppies than going up stairs. This is because there is more pressure on the joints when going down. Here are some tips:

  • Slow: Let your puppy slowly take one step at a time.
  • Support: Stand behind your pup and support him if he falters.
  • Small breaks: Take short breaks between steps so your pup doesn't get tired.

Going down stairs can be a challenge for dogs, especially puppies and older dogs. Here are some common problems and possible solutions:

  1. Fear and uncertainty:
    Solution: Patience, positive reinforcement, and gradual introduction can help overcome fear.
  2. Slip hazard:
    Solution: Non-slip mats or rugs on the steps can minimize the risk of slipping.
  3. Joint and bone diseases:
    Solution: At signs of pain or discomfort, a veterinarian should be consulted. Medication or supplements may help.
  4. Wrong technique:
    Solution: Practice descending slowly and in a controlled manner. Offer help if necessary.
  5. Excessive strain on the front legs:
    Solution: Strengthening exercises may help. If problems persist, consult a veterinarian.
  6. Low strength and endurance:
    Solution: Regular exercise and training can improve your physical condition.
  7. Age and health condition
    Solution: Older dogs or dogs with health problems should not be forced to climb stairs. If necessary, an alternative, such as a ramp, should be used.
  8. Short legs or special build:
    Solution: For dogs with short legs or a special build, such as Dachshunds or Bulldogs, climbing stairs in general can be difficult. Special solutions such as ramps or stretchers can help.
  9. Training and familiarization:
    Solution: Regular training and familiarization can help overcome uncertainties and technical problems.

If the dog continues to have difficulty climbing stairs despite these solutions, a veterinarian or professional dog trainer should be consulted.

Bone Growth in Puppies

The length of the growth period varies from dog to dog. In general, small breeds grow faster than large breeds. But even within a breed, growth can vary.

Normally, all dogs are fully grown by 1 ½ to 2 years. This is when the bones and joints can be fully loaded for the first time.

Until then, young dogs should not be overexerted. Growing bones are sensitive. Overloading them at this stage can lead to joint and bone damage later in life.

During the first six months, bones grow the most. It is important to make sure that your dog does not overexert himself during this time.

Effects on the Bones

Dachshund stair climbing

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. There is some evidence of a link between climbing stairs and later bone damage. However, this is far from certain. As a result, even experts cannot say for sure whether it is harmful to puppies.

It is best not to let the puppy climb stairs alone for the first few months. This way you can be sure that no damage will occur later.

However, sooner or later your pet will have to get used to climbing stairs. If they are carried for a long time, they may develop a fear of stairs. However, there are also sources that advise against letting dogs with short legs and long backs, such as dachshunds, climb stairs.

Finding a middle ground

Dogs need to learn how to use stairs step by step. After a few months, you should start training him. He should not go up the stairs alone. This will prevent joint and bone damage later. If he runs or jumps too fast, there is a possibility of later damage.

So walk slowly and carefully up and down the stairs with him!

This middle ground is ideal: your pet will get used to it and his bones will not be stressed too much. It is important that your pet learns coordination while climbing stairs. This is how he builds muscle.

However, the training periods should not be too long. Remember that his bones are still growing. At first, have your puppy practice on non-slip stairs only. He is likely to be very clumsy and awkward.

If he slips, it will be difficult for him to forget the experience. In the worst case, he may not dare climb stairs again. Under no circumstances should your pet jump around on the stairs. Four-legged friends do this especially when going downstairs.

The last 3 steps are then gladly skipped. This is not good for the bones of a young dog. Stay close to him and walk up and down the stairs with him. The older your dog gets, the more stairs he can climb on his own. This allows you to introduce him to stairs slowly while protecting his bones and joints.

Which Dogs Have Problems With Stairs?

Puppy on stairs

Some dogs have more difficulty climbing stairs than others due to their physical characteristics, age, or health. Here are a few examples:

1. Older dogs:
Older dogs may have problems with stairs due to arthritis, muscle atrophy, or other age-related conditions.

2. Puppies:
Puppies often do not have the coordination, strength, or experience to climb stairs safely.

3. Small breeds:
Small dog breeds such as Dachshunds, Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers may have difficulty climbing stairs due to their short legs and small stride.

4. Dogs with short legs and long back:
Breeds such as dachshunds and basset hounds may have difficulty climbing stairs due to their unique conformation, as they are more prone to back problems.

5. Large and heavy breeds:
Large breeds such as Great Danes or Saint Bernards can have difficulty climbing stairs due to their weight and size, especially if they have health problems such as hip dysplasia.

6. Overweight dogs:
Excess weight puts stress on joints and can make it difficult to climb stairs, regardless of breed.

7. Dogs with diseases:
Dogs with joint or heart disease, arthritis, or neurological disorders may also have difficulty climbing stairs.

8. Untrained or unsafe dogs:
Dogs that are unaccustomed to stairs or that show general insecurity or fear may have difficulty.

9. Breeds with a short muzzle:
Breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs may have difficulty due to respiratory issues.


  • Veterinary advice: A veterinarian should be consulted at any sign of difficulty or pain.
  • Adjustments: Ramps or stair lifts may be an alternative.
  • Training and support: Slow, careful training and support can help improve stair climbing ability and confidence.
  • Weight Management: For overweight dogs, weight loss can reduce joint stress and make stairs easier to climb.

Every dog is unique and it is important to consider the individual needs and well-being of the animal.

Stairs for Adult Dogs

Adult dogs generally have less difficulty climbing stairs than puppies or older dogs. However, there are a few things dog owners should keep in mind to ensure that stair climbing remains safe and healthy for their dog:

Avoid slip hazards. Place non-slip pads on steps to minimize the risk of slipping. Have your dog checked regularly by a veterinarian to detect health problems early.

Watch your weight, eat a balanced diet, and avoid being overweight to avoid unnecessary stress on your joints. Regular exercise and specific training can help strengthen muscles and prevent injuries.

If your dog has a medical condition such as osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia, follow your veterinarian's advice and recommendations. If your dog is insecure, a slow and positive approach with treats and praise can help build confidence.

Watch for signs of pain, discomfort, or behavioral changes when climbing stairs. For long staircases or obvious difficulties, consider alternative routes or assistive devices such as ramps.

Even small adult dogs can have difficulty, so provide assistance if needed. Some breeds have special needs and sensitivities that should be considered when climbing stairs.

Adult dogs also need to be careful when climbing stairs. Regular health checks, an appropriate environment and a watchful eye on your dog's behavior can help keep stair climbing safe and enjoyable for your four-legged friend.


  • Be patient and slowly introduce your puppy to the stairs.
  • Always supervise your puppy when using the stairs.
  • Pay attention to stair safety and avoid slippery areas.


  • Do not force your puppy to use the stairs.
  • Never leave your puppy unattended.
  • Don't overwork your puppy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. There is some evidence of a link between climbing stairs and later bone damage. However, this is far from certain. As a result, even experts cannot say for sure whether it is harmful to puppies.

Puppies' sensitive joints and bones are not fully developed until they are about 1.5 years old. Until then, the puppy should be allowed to climb stairs only under supervision and very slowly.

Dachshunds and other dogs with short legs and long backs should avoid stairs throughout their lives as they are very susceptible to joint and back problems.

It is not uncommon for some puppies to be afraid of stairs at first. Start slow and introduce your dog to stairs gently. Let him explore the lower steps first, without forcing him to go up or down.

Use treats, praise and petting to associate positive experiences with the stairs. Reward your dog every time he approaches the stairs or climbs a step. Make sure the stairs are safe. Non-slip mats can prevent slipping and a handrail provides additional safety.

Encourage your dog to take only one step at a time. As he becomes more confident, you can slowly add more steps. Turn stair climbing into a game. For example, play "Go get it!" on the stairs to make the experience fun and positive.

Stay with and support your dog during training. Your presence will give him security and confidence. Train regularly, but do not overload your dog. Short, positive training sessions are more effective than long, stressful ones.

My Conclusion

Overexertion can cause bone damage in puppies. On the other hand, they need to get used to climbing stairs early. The ideal solution is to let your puppy climb some stairs on his own after a few months.

Of course, you have to make sure he doesn't overexert himself. No jumping, no running too fast. As time goes by, let him climb more and more stairs. So he gets more and more used to it.

After a few months, he is no longer afraid of stairs. Their furry nose carefully walks up and down them. Your pet's bones will not be damaged. It is important that you limit the training to a reasonable amount.

Written by Anja Boecker
Written by Anja Boecker

My name is Anja Boecker, and I am a certified dog trainer and behavior consultant. With these articles, I want to help you to understand your dog better and to build an inseparable bond.

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