Is it ok for puppies to climb stairs? What to Know

Put Down Carpeting

If you have hardwood stairs, consider carpeting them or putting a carpet runner down the middle for your dog to use.

Better to avoid any accidents: your dog can easily slip on hardwood stairs, no matter his age.

You can always remove the carpeting or padding when your dog is more confident with going up and down the stairs in your home.

Are stairs bad for a puppy’s hips?

Is it ok for puppies to climb stairs?

If a puppy is less than 12 weeks old, going up and down stairs can be very bad for its hips, especially if the puppy runs up and down a lot of stairs.

A puppy is born with cartilage hips. The ball of each hip is held in place by a fibrous tissue called a ligament. Over time, the cartilage turns to strong bone.

If the ligament stays intact, the hip bone develops normally, with a smooth rolling ball in a round socket. The ball of the hip rolls around gently in the socket as the dog moves its legs.

This is what normal hip bones look like in a dog:

Is it ok for puppies to climb stairs?

If the ligament gets torn or damaged, the ball of the hip moves and develops abnormally, not sitting snugly in the socket. When the dog moves its legs, the bones rub together and the rim of the socket becomes damaged.

This abnormal growth is called “hip dysplasia”, and can make life very painful for a puppy and even impossible for the dog to walk in old age.

Below is an X-ray showing hip dysplasia. Do you see how the balls of the hips sit slightly out of the sockets compared to the normal hips in the X-ray above?

Is it ok for puppies to climb stairs?

Going up and down stairs puts jarring pressure on a young puppy’s hips that can damage the hip ligaments, which can lead to hip dysplasia. Not all dogs get hip dysplasia, but larger breeds and any puppy that damages its hip ligaments are more likely to get it.

A study on large breed dogs cited by the American Journal of Veterinary Research found that:


Puppies who are full of energy and new to climbing stairs can have serious accidents.

They don’t exactly have lots of self-control or self-awareness: they are eager to explore and will run down stairs if given half a chance.

You wouldn’t want your puppy to fall down a flight of stairs and break growing bones.

And puppies will keep jumping, running, and climbing until they pass out from exhaustion.

Climbing stairs is very demanding physically, especially when you have small legs – stairs are made for people, not for dogs.

Teaching A Dog To Climb Stairs | Lucky Dog

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?

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.