Jump to section
When you bring your puppy home, his whole world will be changed and each experience will be brand new. Until now, his whole life has consisted of playing with his mom and littermates. His world may only have consisted of one room. Your house will bring lots of new experiences, and it's your job to make sure he learns to navigate them confidently. One of these unnerving new experiences might be learning to go up and down stairs.
Teaching your puppy use stairs might not be something you've been planning on, but if he's lived on one level his whole life, he's going to need some guidance. Fortunately this most likely won't take too much time for him to pick up as long as you give him confidence and assurance. Most puppies learn to use stairs without too much coaching
First, make sure your puppy is big enough to attempt the stairs in your house. If your stairs are exceptionally steep or slippery or if they are longer, you might want to let your puppy grow a little before attempting them. If he slips and falls, he might develop a fear of the stairs. You can start by attempting a few stairs at a time, maybe the steps outside your front door or at a park.
The key is to give him confidence and make sure he's safe. Wood stairs can be slippery and scary for a puppy. You can add grips to each step or a runner to add extra friction. Before you've taught your puppy to use stairs, keep him blocked off with a baby gate. You don't want your puppy to take a fall before he's ready.
Teaching your puppy to use stairs shouldn't be too difficult or take too long. There are a few items to have on hand that will make the process easier.
- Puppy treats
- A baby gate
- A favorite toy
- An older dog
Read through the three methods below and pick the right one for you and your puppy. With some patience and guidance, your puppy will be bounding up and down the stairs in no time at all.
The Follow the Leader Method
Use a model
Enlist the help of an older dog your puppy looks up to and already follows around.
Start at the top of the stairs
Line both dogs up at the top of the stairs.
Call the dogs down.
Call both dogs to meet you at the bottom of the stairs in a very excited voice.
Follow the leader
If your puppy hesitates, play with your older dog a little and keep encouraging your puppy. He won't want to be left out.
Give him a treat
When your puppy makes it to the bottom of the stairs, give him a big treat and play with him.
Now try going up
Once your puppy can go down stairs, make sure he can go up them. Use the same method, but start from the bottom and work your way up.
The Toy Method
Choose a toy
Pick one of your puppies favorite toys and get him excited to play with it.
Place it on a step
Take your puppy to the stairs and remove the baby gate. Walk a few steps down and place the toy on the stairs.
Tell him to get it
Tell your dog to come get the toy. Encourage him to walk down the few steps.
When he gets to the step, reward him by giving him the toy and playing with him a little. Walk back to the top of the stairs.
Increase the distance
As he gets more confident going down the stairs, place the toy farther down the stairs until he's retrieving the toy from the bottom step.
Work on going up
Once he can get down the stairs, he'll have to go back up. Use the same method and slowly encourage him to get the toy as he goes up the stairs.
The Step Sitting Method
Choose a stair a few steps below the top.
Take your dog to the stairs, walk a few steps down, and take a seat.
Join the fun
Encourage your puppy to join you on the step. Call him and pat the step beside you, offering treats. When he gets to your side, give him a treat and lots of praise.
Move down the steps
Slowly move down the stairs a few steps at a time and let your puppy follow you down. Give him treats and praise each time he follows you to a step.
All in one try
Keep practicing until your puppy is following you from the top of the stairs to the bottom without whining or stopping.
Now start by sitting on a step a little way up from the bottom and encourage your dog to go up the stairs to join you. Keep moving up the stairs until you're right back at the top.
By Katie Smith
Published: 03/02/2018, edited: 01/08/2021