What Age Can Labrador Puppies Go Up and Down Stairs?

Your sweet, adorable Labrador puppy is quite a curious canine. One of the parts of your home that has confounded your dog the most is the staircase. They’re eager to go up every chance they get, but you’ve been reticent, thinking they’re too young. At what age can a Labrador puppy go up and down the stairs?

Labrador puppies should ascend or descend stairs only once they’re a year old or until they’re too heavy to be transported via carrying, whichever comes first. The risk of allowing even a healthy dog on the stairs too early is that they could later develop hip dysplasia.

In today’s article, we’ll tell you in more detail when you should allow your Labrador puppy to begin climbing stairs, the risks that could occur, and how to help your dog safely use the stairs. There’s lots of great information to come, so keep reading!

White and tan labrador dog going down the stairs
White and tan labrador dog going down the stairs.

What Age Can Labrador Puppies Go Up Stairs? What Age Can Labrador Puppies Go Downstairs?

As we talked about in the intro, your Labrador puppy’s endless and innate sense of curiosity will naturally draw them to the stairs. You have the area puppy-gated off because you don’t want your inquisitive pup to climb prematurely.

What age is a Labrador puppy considered ready to ascend or descend a flight of household stairs?

You should wait until your puppy is at least a year old.

By then, your Labrador isn’t exactly a puppy anymore. The Labrador breed reaches its full height somewhere between the nine and 12-month mark. The dog will achieve its full weight at 18 months.

Your Labrador by 12 months will be 22 to 25 inches tall and weigh between 64 and 77 pounds. Stairs won’t be such an obstacle anymore, be they ascending or descending.

Do keep in mind that there’s no need to restrict your Labrador from experiencing the upstairs of your home until their first birthday.

Many dog owners will simply gate the stairs from both sides and carry their Labrador puppy up and down the stairs as needed.

This proves to your dog that the stairs are no big deal. Many dogs develop anxiety around stairs, so the sooner you can introduce your Labrador puppy to stairs, the better. You might be able to prevent that anxiety.

Now, we have to note that at 64 pounds, your Labrador isn’t exactly a lightweight. Even 20 pounds lighter than that, you might have qualms about carrying your once-small pup up and down the stairs.

And rightfully so. If you take a tumble, both you and your dog can get hurt. Feel free to allow your Labrador to begin climbing up or down the stairs sooner than 12 months if carrying them is becoming too risky.

Are Stairs Bad for a Puppy’s Joints and Hips? Can Stairs Cause Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Your Labrador puppy, if they’re under a year old, is still developing and growing every day. That includes their bones, joints, ligaments, and more.

You worry about your young dog’s hips and joints and the impact that climbing stairs could have on them. At such a young age, could stair-climbing negatively affect your dog?

If your Labrador puppy is under 12 weeks old, then yes.

When a puppy is born, its hips are primarily cartilage. The cartilage later becomes bone, but it takes time for this to happen.

The transition from cartridge to bone is also conditional on the Labrador puppy’s healthy development. For example, if your dog grows up smoothly without health complications, then their hips will develop as normal.

However, if your Labrador begins climbing stairs too early, the ligaments that surround the cartilage hip balls could become damaged or torn.

This prevents the hip ball from fitting in the socket as it should. Now, whenever your Labrador takes a step, the bones in the hips make contact, rubbing painfully. The socket rim degrades, and hip dysplasia develops.

Hip dysplasia can occur from other causes, such as imbalances in a dog’s diet, the dog being overweight, or doing hard or strenuous exercises.

The condition is also hereditary, and with Labradors prone to hip dysplasia, developing the painful condition might, unfortunately, be inevitable.

That said, by taking precautions when your Labrador is just a puppy, you could delay hip dysplasia until the dog’s later years.

More Dangers of Stairs for Labrador Puppies

There’s more than the risk of hip dysplasia that you have to think about when your Labrador puppy climbs or descends a set of stairs.

Let’s talk about the other dangers now so you can decide how you’ll allow your Labrador to use the stairs in the future.

Anxiety/Fear

Going back to our point from before, some dogs are afraid of staircases from the get-go. They refuse to take even a single step on the stairs, likely because they don’t know what awaits them on the other side.

Some dogs have no issue with climbing stairs, but once they reach the top, they’re afraid to go back down. They didn’t realize how high up they were until they got to the top, and the thought of going back down is daunting.

No matter what kind of stair anxiety your Labrador has, you can train them out of it, but it might take a while.  

Possible Tumbles

Puppies aren’t exactly known for being steady and sure on their feet. All it takes is one slip on hard stairs or the family cat darting up the staircase and spooking them and your Labrador is taking a huge tumble down the stairs.

Depending on the distance your dog fell and the severity of the fall, your Labrador puppy could suffer minor injuries or severe, even life-threatening ones.

At the very least, your dog could sprain or break a bone. More serious issues include head injuries and spinal injuries. Death could even occur.

You’d have to take your poor Labrador puppy to the vet immediately for medical assistance. Your pup could need surgery, and they’d certainly require a cast and likely rehabilitation as well.

The vet bills you’d incur would be exorbitant, and your poor dog would miss out on weeks or months of puppydom sitting around laid up in a cast.

As the icing on the cake, if your Labrador puppy didn’t already have a phobia of stairs, after their accident, you could bet they would now.

Tips for Safe Stair Climbing for Labrador Puppies

To wrap up, we want to share a slew of tips so that as soon as your Labrador puppy begins using stairs, they can be safe.

Use Doggy Gates or Supervise Stair Use

White dog gate on stairs.
White dog gate on stairs.

Ideally, you should always supervise your puppy each time they ascend or descend the stairs.

However, we recognize that that’s unrealistic considering you probably have a full-time job, school, or other obligations. You might not even be home during the day.

When you can’t be there to watch your Labrador puppy, then the stairs should be secured on both sides with doggy gates.

Keep in mind that these gates will only work when your Labrador is young. As they sprout up like a weed, you’ll need another solution for keeping them off the stairs.

Make sure that any item that would catch your Labrador’s attention isn’t upstairs, be that their favorite toy or blanket. This should reduce the incentive to want to go up the stairs in the first place. 

Add Grippy Surfaces

Do you have hardwood stairs? If your Labrador puppy is feeling rambunctious and takes one of the stairs wrong, they can easily slip and seriously hurt themselves.

Carpeting your entire staircase might not be financially feasible, but if you can swing it, that’s best.

Otherwise, a set of non-slip rubber treads will majorly improve the safety of using the staircase. That doesn’t only apply to the four-legged members of the family, by the way, but young children as well.

Always Keep the Stairs Clear

The stairs are not a decorative part of your home once you have a dog. Any vases or home décor you have on the stairs should come off lest it gets broken.

You also want to ensure that the stairs never have any laundry baskets, kids’ toys (or dog’s toys!), or other household clutter on them. This is a tripping hazard for all members of the family, including your Labrador puppy!

One Pet at a Time on the Stairs

Your older pets may be acclimated to using the stairs, so they don’t start as slow as your Labrador puppy.

That’s fine, but you don’t want your puppy to feel pressured into picking up the pace because of an impatient pet. It’s best if only one pet uses the staircase at a time to prevent a logjam of animals.

Light the Stairs

Puppies lack more than stability, but good depth perception as well. By plugging in a nightlight in the hall that illuminates the stairs or leaving an overhead light on overnight, your Labrador puppy will find it easier to get up and down.

Conclusion

Labrador puppies shouldn’t use the stairs until they’re at least a year old. Even at that point, you still want to promote supervised use of the stairs and use rubber grips if your staircase is uncarpeted.

This way, you can prevent slips and falls and possible joint and hip damage that could lead to hip dysplasia!

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