If you have any misgivings about allowing your dog or puppy to climb or descend the stairs, simply pick them up and carry them instead. If you can't physically carry your dog, be sure that everything he needs is on the main floor of your home and there's no need to use stairs at all.
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.
Neurological issues look a little different. “Dogs with spine, neck, disc, and back problems find it painful to lift or lower their head when they go up or down stairs,” Wood says. “They might also struggle on stairs if they have vestibular disease, which affects balance.
Hardwood stair treads are more challenging for dogs to grip on, which increases the risk of your dog slipping and falling. A harness that allows you to lift and support them on the stairs will give them back the confidence and control they need to use the stairs safely.
Simply watching your dog go up and down the stairs won't prevent an accident, but it will keep them safe from other potential health problems or conditions that could be even more serious. Wood says he uses stairs as a tool to diagnose various problems.
For bigger dogs who can't be carried up and down repeatedly, it's best to avoid the stairs when possible. Make sure everything your dog needs and enjoys is located on the main floor of your house. Block off the stairs when you're not home or when you will be on a different floor than the dog for an extended period.
Hold a treat at the level of the first stair. Let your dog take one step, give him the treat. Gradually move your dog up one step at a time. Give him a reward for taking each step until he reaches the ground.
When your dog is calm sitting on the second stair on the blanket with you in front of him move yourself down one stair, and encourage your dog to come to you down one stair with a treat or favorite toy. When your dog comes down a stair, praise him and give him his reward. Remove him from the staircase.
It's safest to carry puppies younger than 6 months up and down stairs. After 6 months of age a puppy can be taught how to go up and down stairs in a controlled and safe environment, but don't give your pup free access to stairs until it is fully grown and an adult dog.
Most three-legged dogs can do everything their four-legged companions can do, including climbing the stairs. As all dogs age, their abilities change. For three-legged and four-legged senior dogs, inflammation and joint pain can limit mobility and may affect performance on steps.
Puppies can usually climb stairs safely at the ages of 12 to 16 weeks. However, this is very much breed and size dependent, as some puppies will still not be big enough at the point to successfully navigate a staircase.
Your puppy may able to handle a short step or two from the day he joins your family at about 8 to 10 weeks of age. Over time, introduce him to the rest of the stairs in your home so he is comfortable with them by 16 weeks.
It is extremely important that you keep him/her relatively quiet for the next 10-14 days in order to prevent complications. No running, jumping, climbing stairs or doing anything other than walking on a leash for the next 10 days.
Overcoming a Fear of Going Up and Down Stairs
Your dog can now begin to go up and down stairs slowly. You can also start to play “tug of war” with your dog. By the end of 12 weeks, your dog's leg has healed but may still be weak. It may take several months for your dog to build the muscle back up to where it was before the surgery.