As a Rottweiler parent, you might really want to give him the love and care he deserves. But when it comes to caring, hundreds of questions surround us, and one of them is, will Rottweilers be able to climb stairs?
So, can Rottweilers really climb stairs?
Most Rottweilers can climb up stairs if they are in good health. However, the puppies less than a year old shouldn’t be allowed to use the stairs often to avoid hip dysplasia and joint issues. Some can have “stair phobia” due to unfamiliarity, physical infirmities, and bad experiences with stairs.
So what are the benefits and disadvantages of your Rottweiler climbing stairs? Are they afraid of them, and why? How to train them to climb them? Stay with me, and let’s find out together!
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Why is climbing stairs good for your Rottweiler?
Just like for humans, climbing can be an excellent workout for Rottweilers. This is mainly because each time a dog steps up, he has to lift his entire body weight from one step to the other.
So unless it is not done strenuously and to a limited extent, there are great benefits of climbing stairs for Rottweilers.
Here are some advantages.
- It helps to reduce their weight.
- It helps to build muscles.
- Climbing will make him control his movements.
- it’s a great mental exercise!
It helps to reduce their weight.
Climbing is a perfect indoor exercise for your Rottweiler when you can’t go outside.
Studies show that along with swimming, climbing stairs is one of the most influential and quickest ways for dogs to lose weight. This is because it works their legs, shoulders, hips, and lower back muscles as well.
It helps to build muscles.
As mentioned above, stair climbing is a great exercise. The more the dog exhausts their muscles, the muscles will be well constructed.
If your Rottweiler is weak in the hindquarters, climbing stairs can help to overcome it.
Climbing will make him control his movements.
Climbing involves negative contraction on the muscles, so the dog will have to use a force to regulate the muscles. So it’s great for coordination and correct gaiting. Also, it improves range of motion and balance.
It’s a great mental exercise!
Your Rottweiler will also have to think when going up and down. He will have to make sure he positions his legs correctly. This is ideal for mental exercise because your dog has to know where his feet are according to each step.
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Dangers of Rottweilers walking on stairs.
As we talked above, there are plenty of advantages of climbing stairs for adult Rottweilers. But for young Rottweiler puppies, this can be the other way around. Let’s see why…
Here are several disadvantages.
- It can lead to joint issues.
- They can get hurt.
- it can cause hip dysplasia.
It can lead to joint issues.
For puppies, climbing will cause stress to the joints to lead to joint problems in the future. This is because their joints tend to get damaged till they are fully developed.
They can get hurt.
Very young puppies aren’t yet fully coordinated, and they are inexperienced in climbing. So they could easily fall down a set of stairs. This can lead to wounds, swelling, or tearing of various muscles.
It can cause hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is also a joint condition occurring when the ball and socket joint of the hip doesn’t articulate as it should.
Large breeds like Rottweilers are especially prone to developing hip dysplasia. Studies have shown that being forced to climb stairs can contribute to this. This can also cause secondary conditions like Arthritis.
So you should not force your Rottweiler puppy to climb up the stairs till he is at least 5 months old and has well-developed joints.
Till then, if you have an elevator in your building, then you should use it. But if not, it’s better if you can carry him up the stairs.
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Why are some Rottweilers afraid of stairs?
Even we humans are sometimes afraid of tall ladders or rooftops, even when we are being careful, right? The same goes for Rottweilers. A very tall height is what a staircase looks like to them.
There are several reasons why they can be afraid of this, so let’s see why.
- Dogs fear the unknown.
- They fear the known!
- Because he is not used to climbing stairs.
- Maybe because he’s in pain.
Dogs fear the unknown.
Dogs are intelligent creatures and fear the unknown. They fear what they haven’t yet experienced because it might just hurt them. Because they know they might end up slipping, falling, and hurting themselves.
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They fear the known!
This can also be true! If your dog has already fallen and gotten hurt, he has probably learned to fear the stairs. Like fear of uncertainty caused the fact above, experience is the reason for fear in this one.
Because he is not used to climbing stairs.
If you have always carried your Rottweiler since he was a puppy, he might grow alienated towards the stairs. So once he is given the freedom to try, he might refuse to do it because he’s afraid.
Maybe because he’s in pain.
Your dog’s fear may root from a physical problem that he has. For example, he may not want to go up and down the stairs because it causes him pain. So before you start any training, you should have your veterinarian rule out he has any medical condition.
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How to train your Rottweiler to climb stairs?
We humans always learn how to climb stairs as we grow up.
But this is different with dogs since they have to manage 4 limbs instead of two. As a vet student, I will give you two tips to make it easy for your pup to learn to climb stairs.
So, bear in mind the following things.
Start easy: When your Rottweiler is around 5 months old, you should start with the shallowest, widest steps that you can find. You have to let him go up and down them regularly and then graduate to more and steeper steps.
Be patient: It will take him time to learn what he doesn’t know. So you should give them time to build up their courage and learn the technique in their own way.
Encourage him… A LOT!: As dog lovers, you probably might have seen how dogs wag their tails and bark in excitement when you call him in your baby voice. Dogs love when you encourage them. Also, he loves to be around you. So give him all the praises, treats and let him know you’re always there by his side as he learns to climb the stairs.
Now that you know some tips let’s get into the methods you can use to teach your puppy to master climbing stairs!
Here are my favorite ways.
- The Stair Confidence Method
- The Targeting Method
The Stair Confidence Method
In this method, the basic idea is to understand that stairs can be terrifying to a small puppy.
This is because they are the same height as the stairs and could be like climbing a mountain for them! So you have to try to build confidence enough for a puppy to take the steps gradually one after another.
Step 1 – Make the step look friendly
You have to make the stairs look normal and less intimidating. You can do this by keeping the food bowl on a step and encouraging them to climb up. This can also be done with their favorite snack or a toy as well.
Step 2 – Teach them to climb down the same step
When it comes to stairs, climbing up and down are both essential but different. You can have your Rottweiler pup on a harness and steady him as he jumps down. Remember to use a harness, not a collar.
When your pup knows you’re there to give him support, he will build confidence and master the technique quickly.
Step 3 – Now comes the next step!
Now that your pup has learned to jump up and down one step, it’s time for the rest of it. What you have to do is try step 1 again and again. You can also try this, two or three steps away at once.
Step 4 – Walking side by side.
Now when you’re sure he has mastered one step, you have to try to climb the whole staircase. This could be done easily if you can climb alongside him.
If your puppy knows the ‘heel’ command, this will be easier. When you take one step, what you have to do is to ask him to heel. This will automatically make him focus on you and listen to you. Then, give him lots of praise and encouragement as he climbs each step!
The Targeting Method
In this technique, you teach the dog to ‘target’ something, such as a small ball or a toy at the end of a stick. Then you move the target, and the dog will learn to follow. Then you move the target up and down the stairs.
Step 1 – Teach your pup to target
For this, you will need an object to the target. As the pup is small, it’s more suitable for you to use a stick with a small toy or a ball attached to the end so you won’t have to bend too much.
Step 2 – Make the target more interesting!
You can do this by rubbing the end of the target with something the dog likes to eat. So now your pup will be attracted to the smell. First, let him sniff and lick at the object and encourage him to follow it.
Step 3 – Practice with a moving target
Now, move the target around the room, do this slowly so the dog can easily follow. When he touches the target, give him praise or treats. Then you can even try to get him up on a couch or a bed so he can get more practice.
Step 4- Now go for the stairs!
Since he’s mastered targeting, now it’s time for the stairs! As earlier, move the target slowly across the stairs. First, do this with a single step, then to the second, and proceed for the rest of it.
By the way, here is how to teach your dog to use stairs slowly.
Things to be aware of..
Stair climbing can be normal for us, but for your Rottweiler, it’s not natural. So, you should be aware of several things before starting to make him learn to climb stairs.
Stair climbing can be a strenuous exercise for Rottweilers, so you should pay close attention to your dog. You should watch for any signs of overexertion. These can include,
- Refusing to stand on hind legs
- Extreme stiffness that lasts a sometimes time after getting up
- Pain from moving but not caused by an injury.
If you’re not sure about your dog’s physical condition, always consult with your veterinarian before starting stair climbing.
Ensure the stairs are not slippery and are safe, especially if they are partially open towards the back.
Small puppies can fall through in the worst-case scenario, and grown-up Rottweilers can get a leg caught, resulting in an injury or a wound.
Don’t rush it..
As I have mentioned above, stair climbing is often unsuitable for Rottweilers younger than 5 months old.
Studies indicate that it can strain puppies’ joints leading to a higher probability of hip dysplasia. So before the appropriate age, you should always carry him up and down the stairs.
Accept reality. He’s not gonna master it as soon as you train him. Your Rottweiler might feel like it’s a very strange task to do. So encourage him lots, give him treats and always be by his side to support him.
And lastly.. Stair climbing is not for everyone!
If your Rottweiler is aging, they might be at the risk of arthritic joints. Also, since large dogs like Rottweilers are prone to developmental issues, ramps are always better.
For puppies, use the alternative – RAMPS
Ramps would be better for large breed puppies like Rottweilers. This is because they are more natural and don’t require as much work as climbing stairs.
As a mom or dad to a Rottweiler, now you know the pros and cons of letting your Rottweiler friend to go up and down the stairs. You can use the easy methods I have written above to teach your Rottweiler how to climb up the stairs correctly.
But don’t overdo it, especially if he’s still a puppy. I hope this article helped you to bond more with your lovely Rottweiler and make many more happy memories with him.