The Ups and Downs of Stairs: 5 Considerations for a Dog Owner

by Lisa G. MurraySeptember 13, 2018

If you are in the process of buying a new home and you are a dog owner, think stairs! These are some things to consider:

Stairs Can Be Challenging for Senior Dogs

It’s not just people who might find stairs difficult to get up and down as the years go by! As a dog ages, his rear legs often become weak or arthritic. This can make climbing up and down stairs a painful experience.

However, there are solutions to this potential problem, so don’t automatically rule out homes with staircases. If your dog is too heavy to carry, a dog harness or sling can do the trick to help your furry family member up and down with ease. A harness or sling takes the weight off the dog’s rear legs, and this can make all the difference.

A dog being helped up the stairs via a harness.

Some breeds historically have more mobility issues as they age, so if you are considering a home with stairs and don’t already own a dog, research which breeds have fewer issues. German Shepherds, for example, have a high rate of degenerative myelopathy, which can seriously impair mobility later in life.


Harnesses are available in different sizes to fit the needs of any canine.

Stairs Can Make It Easier to Establish a Pet-Free Zone

You may want to keep the first or second floor of the house off limits to your pet. This might be just for times when you are out of the home, or simply because you want some rooms to be pet-free.

If this is the case, you can install a pet gate at the top or bottom of the stairs. This will help your dog learn which floor is off limits.

But be sure that your dog has enough room; a dog who feels too confined won’t be a happy dog. And when you are home, be careful not to isolate the dog from the general activity in the home.

Beware of Slippery Stairs!

If a flight of stairs is made of tile or hardwood, it can be quite slippery for a dog. Stair treads, carpeting, or a carpet runner can take care of that nicely. These options are also helpful for small children and adults who are unsteady on their feet, so they can serve double duty!

Foyer in luxury home with carpeted stairs.

A slip down the stairs can be the cause of serious injury for a dog, so reducing the chance of an accident can save your dog from undue pain or even surgery. Plus, if your stairs are hardwood, you’ll protect them from scratches and wear that can happen from your dog’s nails.

Accessibility Can Be Just a Step or Two Away

If there are rooms in the home that are accessible with just a few steps and your dog has mild mobility problems, you might want to get a removable, anti-slip dog ramp. This can make your dog’s life a lot easier and allow her to have access to rooms that are literally just a few steps away.

An aging dog who is likely to have joint stiffness, or a disabled dog, will greatly appreciate the help! Making this small modification can save your canine companion from unnecessary pain or isolation.

Some Dogs Are Afraid of Stairs

Puppies often have a natural fear of stairs, and fully grown dogs sometimes have fear or anxiety because they weren’t exposed to stairs early in life. If you don’t already live in a home with stairs, be prepared that your dog may exhibit fear or anxiety at first.

A dalmatian sits at the top of a staircase looking down.

Never push or pull a dog or puppy up or down stairs, as that will only exacerbate the situation! With a little training, using treats and positive reinforcement, your pup’s fear can be overcome.

Stairs can mean a little extra work if you have a dog, but if your dream home has a staircase, it can be worth it. Make the decision with your eyes open, and take advantage of all the canine resources readily available. If you’re in the market for the home of your dreams for you and your pooch, check out our listings!

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About The Author
Lisa G. Murray
Lisa is a dog lover, blogger, and the Marketing/PR Director of Walkin’ Pets by HandicappedPets.com, an e-commerce company that makes products for aging, injured, and disabled pets.

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