Why Won’t My Dog Climb Stairs?

Is your pup the bounciest, most playful furball in the world, until you approach a flight of stairs? Have you noticed your older dog suddenly reluctant to climb up or down, even though you’ve seen him bound up the stairs countless times over the years? What’s the reason for the change, and how can you convince your companion that stairs are not the enemy?

There aren’t any hard and fast rules here. Your dog could develop a dislike for stairs for any number of reasons, regardless of his age. Luckily, there are steps you can take to overcome this issue. We’ve compiled some of the most common reasons for stair avoidance and explained how you can approach them to make life easier for you and your furry friend.

Why Your Dog Might Be Avoiding the Stairs


Maybe you’re introducing your dog to stairs for the first time, and he seems nervous. Look at it from his low-to-the-ground perspective: this is all brand new to him. He’s never seen anything like this staircase before, much less had to climb something like it. Your dog may be hesitant to even put a paw on the first step. If you head up or down without him, he may wait at the foot of the stairs, barking and whining for your return.

Negative Associations

What’s at the top of the staircase? At the bottom? Consider the impression you’re giving your dog, especially if she’s a puppy or a recently-adopted pet. Dogs will quickly decide if an experience is positive or negative, and they may end up associating those experiences with areas of the house. If your dog is uncomfortable or anxious about baths and you only ever bring your dog upstairs to give her a bath, you can bet that she won’t want to climb the stairs when you decide it’s bath time.

Joint Pain

Your dog may have bounded up and down stairs her entire life. But some years have passed, and she’s slowed down. You may notice her walking as though she’s in pain. She might be reluctant to go up or down the stairs, or even begin refusing to use them at all. This could be evidence that your furry friend is suffering from joint pain that makes it too painful to use the staircase.

How to Help Your Pooch Climb Stairs

While there are many reasons your dog may be avoiding using the stairs, there are a whole host of ways to address the problem. Whether the solution comes in the form of easing your dog’s anxiety or installing non-slip treads on the staircase, there are steps you can take to help your dog get comfortable with stairs. Before you know it, you might find your furry friend racing you upstairs!

Train Your Dog

A puppy that’s afraid of stairs is a lot easier to handle than a large dog afraid of stairs. Keep that in mind when you give into your puppy’s whining and carry him up and down. Look at it this way: you may not think it’s so cute when you’re struggling to carry your 90-pound retriever up or down several flights.

To ensure that your puppy’s anxiety over the unknown stairs doesn’t grow into outright refusal to ever climb them, give your dog some time to properly adjust to the unfamiliar staircase before trying to coax him up or down the steps. Allow him to inspect the area and do his own exploring. Once he seems comfortable with the idea of the steps, make sure he sees you going up and down. Gently coax him up the steps with treats, pets and praise. And don’t forget to show him that there’s something other than a bath waiting upstairs, like a special treat or a comfy bed.

Use a Ramp or Other Helpful Mechanism

If you Google “how to help old dog up stairs,” you’ll be met with all manner of creative solutions, from a handy carrying harness to the canine equivalent of an automated wheelchair lift. Any number or combination of these fixes could make life easier for your dog, but the simplest solutions often wind up being the most effective. A low-tech ramp could be all you need to help your dog access the stairs more easily.

You may have to experiment to find out which method will best help your dog get up and down the stairs. If your dog is physically unable to get up the stairs on her own, take a trip to the vet to determine what might be causing the problem. Your vet can then help you determine whether something like non-slip adhesives or a ramp might be most helpful in making your dog comfortable.

Support Mobility with a Supplement

As dogs age, they slow down. You might find that your once-bouncy companion is moving a lot slower and even experiencing pain while moving around. It’s always a good idea to see your vet and find out the best way to keep your pet healthy and comfortable before age and health-related conditions set in. In addition to creating a plan with your vet, you can help your dog maintain his ability to stay active with Wapiti Labs’ Mobility or Senior Mobility Supplements. Our natural supplements are specially formulated to support joint function and mobility in dogs., no matter their stage of life.

About Wapiti Labs

We’re here to help you give your pet the healthy life she deserves. Wapiti Labs produces premium natural pet supplements that are endorsed by veterinarians practicing both Eastern and Western styles of medicine. Our supplements can support your a variety of your dog’s bodily functions and allow her to maintain an active lifestyle as she ages. Contact us today to learn more about our supplements and how they can help keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

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