How To Block Stairs From A Dog

Has your dog got too big for their boots and just roams around the whole house as if they own the place?

Or is clearing up after your dog upstairs and downstairs simply too much?

In today’s article I look some of the different ways that you can use to block the stairs from your dog.

And guess what? It’s not all about stair gates! 

3 ways to stop your dog from going up or down the stairs

I have found three different ways that you can block the stairs from your dog:

  1. Stair gate or baby gate
  2. Train them not to go up 
  3. Some assorted crazy ideas

[1] Stair gates

Obviously, this is the easiest way to stop your dog from going up (or down the stairs.)

Created for the baby and toddler market, a gate is a very effective barrier.

They come in all shapes and sizes, come with different features and cater for all budgets.

And those are just the ones that you can buy from a shop.

If you fancy building one yourself, there are plenty of ideas to help you. 

Let me take a look at some of the main types of gate

First of all, your bog standard stair gate.

These are two a penny from shops like Amazon.

I don’t want to spend much time talking about them because they are so familiar to us all.

If you want a fast, inexpensive and easy solution, then these gates are for you.

They work best if they are being secured against flat surfaces.

But what if you don’t have a flat surface to install these gates up against?

Many stairs only have spindles with rounded edges- there is not a flat piece of wood in sight….

Boxing your spindles in

If you find yourself in this position, then I have a solution for you.

Just follow this guide here.

By following it, you can create a flat surface by “boxing” your spindles in. 

And there is no need for drills or screws…

Once you have a flat surface, you are ready to go online and buy that stair gate of your dreams!

Retractable stair gates

The next type of gate I want to look at is a retractable one.

Your best bet for one of these again is to buy one online. 

These gates are perfect if the space that the gate is going into is smaller and hasn’t got space for the gate to swing out into. 

Retractable gates basically fold back on themselves, there is no gate to swing out in front or behind the mechanism.

From now on, I will be showing you gates that are homemade.

The advantage of homemade gates are that they are a lot cheaper, they can be built to fit your exact dimensions and you can choose a style, material and design that is 100% you.

The disadvantage is the time that they take to design and build.

If you are thinking of a gate as a long term solution and you have some basic DIY skills, then check these out.

DIY wooden stair gates to stop your dog

There are essentially two styles.

The first style is using a pallet.

Pallets are great. You get fairly good quality wood (enough for a stair gate) very cheaply or even for free. 

The only drawbacks with pallets is- for some people the quality is only “so-so” and dismantling them can be quite a challenge.

Here is a guide to follow.

The second style is more sophisticated and can loosely be called “barn doors”. 

These doors have a more finished look to them but you will need to buy the wood and take more time to produce a higher quality finish with them. 

Here is a guide to follow

These wooden gates are attached using hinges which take much more time to install than a traditional stair gate- which are secured using pressure “joints”.

Fabric gate 

If a traditional baby gate or even a wooden one seem a little bulky or heavy, then you might consider making your own one out of fabric.

Fabric barriers are great because they are lightweight and in terms of design and style you will have an almost unlimited choice in terms of colours and pattern. 

A potential drawback is that if you have a big or powerful dog or perhaps one with buckets of determination, a fabric barrier might not be robust enough for you. 

If you are looking for a bit of inspiration, here is a step by step guide on making a fabric barrier. 

[3] PVC Pipe gate

Yet another option for all of you DIYers out there, is to block the stairs from your dog by building a barrier or gate out of PVC piping- you know the white stuff which is used instead of copper pipes to move water around our houses.

And I was a bit sceptical of it until I used to create “roll bars” in a whelping box. 

Roll bars are built into whelping boxes to try and prevent a mother squishing her puppies in the first few weeks of life. 

PVC pipe is very light and very, very strong.

It is also ridiculously cheap and can be cut to any lengths or shapes by using lots of different connectors.

Intrigued by this idea? Watch this to get you started. 

And that is it. 

My not so brief tour of some of the different stair gates that are “available” is over.

And so in the next section, I want to look at training a dog not to go up a set of stairs.

Building a “mental” stair gate to block the stairs

There are many reasons that you might not want to block the stairs from your dog by erecting a physical stair gate.

Perhaps you don’t have the money to buy one or you are not confident enough in your DIY skills to attempt building a gate.

Or it could just be that you don’t want the inconvenience of one- and they are a bit of a hassle.

Whatever your reasons, stair gates are not the only solution to stopping your dog getting up and down the stairs. 

One way is to train your dog to not climb the stairs.

Do not expect to complete this training in one 15 minute session.

Think instead of achieving real success by doing a few minutes everyday for a couple of weeks. 

And so the disadvantage is that training takes far more effort initially than installing a stair gate but the real advantage is that after a couple of weeks, you won’t need a stair gate cluttering up the bottom of your stairs. 

The basics of this training is to stop your dog approaching the stairs firstly by standing in their way and blocking them and then by using a strong verbal command such as “no.” 

You then reward your dog with lots of praise and a treat or a toy when they walk away from the stairs: or if they walk back down after being blocked halfway up. 

For a step by step approach, read this article

Having talked you through how to train your dog to not consider going up the stairs, I will now take you through a few ideas that are a little wacky and “left field.” 

Crazy ideas to block the stairs from your dog

OK, I am not going to take up much of your time here because I think that some of these methods are a little dubious. 

And they all rely on you placing different objects or textures on your stairs to dissuade your dog from walking up them.

Carpet runners

The first object to place on your stairs to stop your dog in its tracks are carpet runners or grippers. 

These are the plastic strips that are flat on one side and have dozens of small spikes on the other.

They are designed to be placed under carpets.

Without a doubt, if your dog walks on them, they won’t go any further.

But is it a little extreme? Causing your dog physical pain?

Tinfoil

Ready for the next object to persuade your dog that walking up the stairs isn’t allowed?

Placing aluminium or tin foil on the first few steps.

Apparently the sound that it makes when a dog steps on it is enough to make them beat a hasty retreat. 

Does stepping on it really produce a sound that will startle? 

I think that they are much more likely to be scared if they slip on these sheets of foil rather than by the sound it makes!

Double sided sticky tape

My final weird hack for stopping your dog from climbing the stairs is to place double sided stick tape on the first few steps.

It seems that your dog won’t like the sticky texture- it will “stop them in their tracks”, if you will!!

I’m not so sure about that. I think that the stickiness will surprise a dog but it won’t be enough to stop them going up…

Having looked at three different approaches to blocking the stairs from your dog, I will now go on to talk about some of the reasons that you might want to barricade the stairs in the first place. 

8 reasons to block stairs from dogs

Now before I list 5 reasons why you might not want to let your dog go upstairs in your house, I need to make a confession.

Most of the time my two dogs don’t go upstairs.

My four year old dog goes upstairs every morning to share a biscuit with my wife who has a cup of tea in bed!

Apart from that, my dogs stay downstairs.

Let’s move swiftly on to look at the reasons why letting your dog go upstairs may not be such a good idea.

 [1] Stairs are bad for young dogs, small dogs and old dogs alike

Stairs in and of themselves aren’t bad for dogs but our dogs do need to be cautious around them.

As they are for us, stairs are dangerous in the sense that if you slip or trip whilst coming down, it is a long way to fall.

They also can be physically tough for smaller dogs to climb because of the height of the step compared to the height of their leg.

Many vets recommended not allowing a puppy to go up or down stairs too often or unsupervised until they are at least 1 year old. 

This is partly due to the strain that going up and down stairs can place on developing bones and muscles but it is also a coordination and balance issue.

And for older dogs, stairs might just be a “step too far” for those aching joints and a body that no longer balances as well as it once did.  

[2] Dogs in bed aren’t a good combination in terms of our sleep 

Another reason to restrict dogs from being upstairs in your house is because they can disturb our sleep.

A staggering number of us let our dogs sleep with us and there are some benefits to this, including a heightened sense of security. 

But there are some downsides as well. 

The human sleep cycle is different to the dog sleep cycle. 

At night, we sleep more deeply and longer than dogs do and so because dogs tend to move around more in the night, this can disturb the quality of our sleep.  

And over 20% of dogs snore! What impact would that have on your sleep?!

[3] Dogs are trip hazards around stairs

Dogs can be trip hazards on stairs.

I’m particularly thinking about dogs who like to sleep on that top stair, where they can snuggle up against the back of the step and imagine that they are in a den or a cave? 

In our house, when Bumps was much younger (she is 13 ½ now) this was her preferred spot. 

And this is all well and good, in fact it is quite cute, until you are rushing to come downstairs one day and your dog stands up just as you try to step over them.

Let’s hope that you can grab a handrail to break your fall!

[4] A hoover that can effectively vacuum dog hairs off stairs has yet to be invented

Is it just me or are vacuum cleaners generally hopeless at getting stairs clean and free of dog hair?

And we have bought some of the best models on the market.

But I have to say that hoovering the stairs requires a lot of effort for not a great result.

Has anyone used their slipper or a rubber glove to clean the stairs?

It is a vigorous workout but it will lift more hair from your stairs than a vacuum cleaner, I think. 

[5] Cluttered and messy bedrooms

My final reason why any sane and rational parent might not want their dogs upstairs is children’s bedrooms.

Although some children keep their bedroom beautifully clean and tidy, they are the exception, not the rule. 

Children’s bedrooms can be heaven for a dog.

The floor is often littered with great things to chew- think socks and shoes.

And they smell so good to a dog!

And in some bedrooms there is the added bonus of leftover food on plates.

Can it possibly get any better?

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully in amongst all of this information and advice that I have thrown at you, there are a few real gems to help you work out exactly how to block stairs from a dog. 

The most obvious tips are the stair gates, the most wacky hacks involve placing different objects on each step but perhaps the most rewarding is to train your dog to not want to climb the stairs. 

Training is a way of creating a mental stair block in the mind of your dog.