Can Golden Retrievers Climb Stairs? Yes But Take These Precautions


Naturally, having a family pet like a golden retriever in your home often involves your pet using stairs. Even if your home is composed of only one floor and does not have any internal staircase, chances are that your pet will need to climb stairs of a porch or deck, or even stairs leading to the door of a veterinarian office.

In short, it is likely that your golden retriever will not be able to avoid stairs totally throughout its life. Luckily, golden retrievers are absolutely physically capable of climbing stairs, but there are a few reasons why staircases should be avoided in some situations. For example, very young golden retrievers or dogs with hip and joint issues should usually not be climbing stairs.

Is Climbing Stairs Bad For Large Dogs?

Golden retrievers range in weight when fully grown but are considered to be in the medium to large class of dog.

A common thing that many golden retriever owners will know is that large dog breeds are more likely to suffer from joint issues. For example, hip dysplasia is a painful joint condition that is usually genetic, but can also be caused by improper hip development when they’re a puppy.

Hip dysplasia can lead to arthritis and, when particularly severe, can lead to a drastic decrease in mobility of a golden retriever’s hip joints.

In order to avoid hip dysplasia or at least lessen its effects, you can begin by feeding your golden retriever a healthy and balanced diet, as well as ensuring they get plenty of exercise (including swimming, which golden retrievers love!). 

Furthermore, making sure that your golden retriever undergoes proper physical development when it is a puppy is key to ensuring that you can help maintain the joint health of your beloved dog. 

When Can Golden Retriever Puppies Climb Stairs?

Stairs can be bad for puppies joints if they attempt to climb them while they are still too young. It goes without saying, but stairs are designed with humans in mind (ask a shih tzu about this). As such, a staircase is really only meant to climbed by a human, though many four-legged species manage the mechanics of it well enough.

In order for a dog to climb stairs, they must exert energy into their muscles and joints that is very different from the pressure they would put on them if they were just walking or running normally. Because climbing stairs can be awkward for a four-legged body, it’s best to allow a golden retriever’s hip joints to fully develop so that they don’t risk fatiguing or unbalancing their hip joints.

As such, a golden retriever puppy should be carried up stairs until they reach a certain age.

Important Note: Most medium sized breeds can start using staircases when they are about twelve weeks old, while larger breeds should really be waiting until they are at least sixteen weeks old.

Thus, for golden retrievers, it is a good idea to wait between twelve and sixteen weeks before training them to climb stairs.

When Should Golden Retrievers Stop Climbing Stairs?

In order to further avoid the risk of developing or worsening hip dysplasia, ensuring that your aging golden retriever does not need to climb stairs past a certain age is essential!

If your golden retriever is getting older and still climbing stairs like in apartments, you should take precautions to make certain that they will not need to do so for much longer.

For example, if your house is composed of more than one floor, make sure that everything your golden retriever could need is on the first floor, including their food, water, bed, and toys.

If your dog prefers to sleep with a family member on an upper floor, trying to gradually discourage this behavior to avoid them climbing the stairs as they continue to age. 

Using a pet gate could also be an ideal solution to discourage your golden from taking stairs that are harmful to them in their senior years.

How Do You Train a Golden Retriever Puppy To Climb Stairs?

As mentioned previously, stairs were designed for humans to use, not puppies. Because of this, puppies will look on the contraption with confusion and might even develop anxiety about them.

You might find yourself at a loss when it comes time to teach them how to climb the stairs, but rest assured that there are many methods that are tried and true.

Once your golden retriever has reached at least twelve weeks of age, the first step in training them to climb the stairs is to ensure that they are already reasonably comfortable and obedient on a leash. When you feel that your golden retriever puppy is ready to take its first steps on a staircase, leash them and have them sit on the bottom of the staircase. 

Using the leash as a gentle guide, coax your puppy up the stairs alongside you. If they are well-trained on a leash, they will understand that they are meant to follow you. Positive encouragement like kind words, gentle pets, and healthy treats are really helpful throughout this process, especially if your golden retriever is particularly nervous.

When your golden retriever puppy has successfully climbed their first set of stairs, make sure they know how proud you are of them. Happy voice tones and positive words are the key to them learning that they’ve done something well. Following this, you can then begin the process of teaching them how to climb down the stairs.

Sometimes, climbing down a staircase can be even more daunting for a puppy than climbing up. Keep in mind that their perception of the world around them is much different than yours, so what is just a set of stairs to your mind could appear to be a treacherous cliff to theirs.

Never use harsh tones or exhibit frustration when training them to climb stairs, as this will discourage your golden retriever and might even cause anxiety. An anxious puppy could lose focus and trip over their feet, resulting in a possible stumble down the stairs and a potential joint injury. 

Overall, maintain a system of affirmation and encouragement and there’s no doubt that your golden retriever puppy will become comfortable with climbing stairs in no time at all! 

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