With their short legs and tiny bodies, you may be wondering: “Can Shih Tzus climb stairs?” The short answer is yes. Like most dogs, Shih Tzus can trot up and down the stairs.

However, small dogs may find it difficult to climb stairs because of their size. Unlike other breeds, Shih Tzus use their body weight to push forward. They do this because their short legs make it hard for them to reach the next step.

At times, you may even find them reluctant going up or down for some reason. If you notice your Shih Tzu is struggling or is refusing to climb at all, he must be trying to tell you something.

Climbing Stairs is Nice, But Don’t Force Them

Most pets can learn to navigate the stairs, and these include Shih Tzus. Their drive to follow their mother or owner anywhere allows them to use the stairs. This is convenient if you live in a two-story house, or if you have an elevated porch.

However, there are some cases wherein they wouldn’t want to traverse the steps. This is not them being stubborn or lazy, but there could be a problem you are not aware of your dogs.

What could be the reason behind your dog’s refusal to climb the stairs? It could be because your furry friend has one of the following:

·      Medical conditions

Health problems like hip dysplasia prevents your dogs from navigating the stairs. Hip dysplasia happens when there’s an excessive erosion in the hip. This makes the hip joint partially or completely dislocated. Since climbing stairs requires the hind legs to support your dog’s weight, hip dysplasia makes it painful for him to do the task.

·      Injuries

If your dog suffers from an injury like a lacerated paw or a pulled muscle, it gets hard for him to go up and down the stairs. Not only it is hard, but it is also dangerous.

·      Age-related issues

As your canine buddy age, he experiences several changes in his body. These changes that prevent him from doing his usual routine. Aging limits your Shih Tzu’s mobility and restricts his vision. That’s why it’s important that you don’t force him to climb anymore. Instead, make some adjustments to your home for him to live comfortably. This includes setting up an indoor potty and keeping him downstairs.

Step-by-Step Guide to Teaching Shih Tzus How to Climb Stairs

If your dog is healthy enough and is cleared by the vet, it’s time for some training. Follow the steps below to train your Shih Tzu to climb the stairs. But before the actual training, here are some things you should first keep in mind:

Preparing for Training

Choose good training times. This can be before walking or playing with your Shih Tzu. This makes him look forward to the training session. Avoid training when he’s hungry, tired, or when your dog would rather go for a walk. Break training into several small sessions. Break sessions can be about 10 minutes each to keep him interested.
Prepare a sling to support him. Make your dog feel safe with a support sling. The sling can be made of a folded towel or a reusable shopping bag. Slip it under your dog’s belly to support him while training. Your makeshift sling allows you to catch your dog if he slips.
Let him set the pace. Again, don’t force him to climb the stairs. Let your dog train when he wants to. Take a break if your dog loses interest. Don’t forget to reward him for each step and improvement.
Training Your Shih Tzu

Introduce your dog to the stairs. For small dogs like Shih Tzus, stack up a few books that will serve as the stairs. This allows him to train on shallow steps. Make sure the books’ cover has some kind of traction. You can use towels to make the surface less slippery.
Place a treat onto the first step. This will lure your dog to climb the stairs. Encourage him with kind words to get the treat. Once he makes it to the first step, reward him with the treat. Also, praise your dog for his improvement.
Train your dog to climb gradually. Let your dog train on the first step for a few sessions until he is confident to proceed to the next step. Place another treat on the ground to motivate your dog to get back down.
Praise your dog for his efforts. You should commend your dog for his improvement, no matter how small. Reward him for his efforts. This builds your dog’s positive association with stairs. It also helps in relieving his stress.

More Safety Tips

Once your dog learned how to climb stairs, you still have to be cautious to prevent accidents at home. Slip and fall are common accidents at home. It can cause muscle strains, fractures, injuries, or even death among dogs. Prevent your canine friend from hurting himself with these tips:

Supervise your dog.
Install better lighting to improve visibility.
Improve traction with carpeted stairs or runners.
Use dog ramps.
But if your dog can’t learn how to navigate the stairs for some reason, it’s best to carry him around. Safety should be your priority for your Shih Tzu.

Can Shih Tzus climb stairs? Yes, they can. But be mindful of your dog, especially if they are struggling or reluctant to climb. That could be a sign that they may be suffering from certain health conditions.

Want to learn more about the Shih Tzu? Read our Shih Tzu articles:

What you should know about the dog breed Shih Tzu

What are Shih Tzus Bred for?

Do Shih Tzus Get Along With Cats?

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Can Shih Tzus Climb Stairs