Your home staircase can actually be a powerful tool to help your dog workout at home without going outside. Once you train your dog to systematically go up and down the stairs, he or she will find it useful and should become part of a regular program of exercise if you are unable to leave your home for whatever reason.
Stairs are actually a top dog exercise to build muscle in all types of dog. This is particularly beneficial for medium to large sized dogs. Smaller dogs, such as Yorkshire Terriers and Pugs, may struggle with staircases. If you do not have a carpeted staircase then this is not recommended. Please see the section below for more detailed information on which types of dogs may not be able to do this.
Are Stairs Bad For Dogs?
Stairs are one of the best indoor exercises for dogs. They can also be very effective at exercising your dog in the winter months when daylight is limited, or adverse weather conditions prevent you from going outside.
Stairs should be part of your dog exercise program if you are unable to go outside for long periods of time, such as in the cold winter season.
A stairway is actually excellent for building muscle in dogs as it utilizes muscles in your dog that he or she may not be accustomed to using whilst they are out on their daily walk with you. It particularly works the lateral shoulder muscles and helps to build core strength. This is particularly desirable if you are looking for ways to build muscle in a Rottweiler or Doberman for instance.
In addition, this also helps to work the back and keeps the hips active and supple, so can be especially useful, in moderate sessions, for older dogs. If your dog is a senior citizen, always make sure that you pay close attention to them when they are exercising. If they appear to struggle in any way, then you must stop immediately and allow them to rest before they continue their daily activities.
Which Dogs is this Exercise Suitable For?
If you are unsure about your dog’s abilities when facing a certain type of exercise or activity, then always use caution and consult your local professional. Small canines and dogs with very short legs such as a Dachshund may not be able to go up and down the stairs effectively. If you have had your dog inside your home for a while, then you should be familiar with his of her ability to conquer the staircase by now.
Other times when a dog may not be able to go up and down the stairs to workout and strengthen their muscles:
When they have recently healed from an injury or surgery. You cannot put excess strain on a dogs delicate muscles or joints when they are in this condition.
When they are older and may not be able to use the stairs. Some dogs find they are unable to use the stairs as they once could when they get older. This issue needs to be addressed and you should provide access to the essentials your dog needs on the lower floors. Dogs in this criteria must not be encourage to train using the stairs.
If they are a puppy under 3 months old. Puppies are growing rapidly into an adult dog and should not be encouraged to stretch their muscles too much beyond that of simple walks. They have more delicate bones and joints too and will be perfectly capable of this type of exercise using the stairs when they reach adulthood.
The bottom line is that if your dog is not able to use the stairs, then you need to find other ways to help them get their workout in! See how to exercise a dog indoors for more information on how to improve your dog’s strength and stamina without going outside.
What If I Do Not Have Access to a Staircase in My Apartment?
A dog treadmill may be useful if you live in an apartment, or have a slippery staircase, for instance. But should you look into getting specialist exercise equipment for your dog? What about a dog treadmill? As the name suggests, a dog treadmill is a device your dog can use to walk or run on. They are a useful piece of indoor dog exercise equipment. Why would you get one for your dog? There are many reasons, but most people get a canine treadmill for one or more of the following reasons:
- To help their dog get some exercise and stay healthy and fit
- To help their dog lose weight
- To help their dog recover from surgery, an injury, or a medical condition
- To help them keep a dog who has arthritis moving and pain free To help them keep a dog who has hip dysplasia.
If you are on a budget, then why not look into some other ideas for exercising a dog at home for more ideas on how to keep your pooch fit and active even if you can’t be.
Hopefully you should have some more insight into how to exercise your dog in the winter months using a tool many people have available in their own home – the humble staircase. Remember, you should never leave a dog unattended on a stairway for any period of time.
Emma Charles, DVM, was born and raised in Brownwood, TX. She leads the editorial team at FunDogFitness.com where she shares some of the vast amount of personal and professional expertise she has gained over the years on the subject of dog care. A proud graduate with a doctorate from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University, she now shares her advice online for anyone who owns, or is considering, a dog.