Keeping dogs and puppies safe from the multitude of ways they can potentially hurt themselves is a challenge and this can sometimes take a toll on our patience. At times, it can seem like our dogs gravitate towards danger, purposefully seeking out the riskiest situations that they can find – such as possibly falling or jumping from balconies and heights.
With more people living in properties that have balconies or in high-rise accommodation, the risk to dogs jumping or falling from balconies has increased. In this guide I will explain about dogs or puppies falling from balconies, and how you can pet proof yours.
Do dogs know not to jump off balconies? Most adult dogs will know not to jump off balconies. Dogs do understand heights, but there are risks with puppies or dogs with vision problems or when agitated. In cases like this, dogs can jump off balconies.
That’s the short answer, but I want to explain more as you should never assume your dog won’t jump from a balcony no matter their age. I also include tips on how to make a balcony dog friendly.
Can you leave your dog on a balcony?
Throughout the US, more and more people are choosing to live in apartments, often with dogs, who they will leave on the balcony unattended.
Sadly, over the years, this has resulted in a higher number of dogs falling from said balconies, ending up with severe injuries or even dying in the process.
So, whilst in theory you can leave your dog on a balcony, I don’t recommend it. Dogs do not think rationally, and if agitated might jump and fall from the height.
In fact, only recently there was a report in Vancouver, Canada, of a dog jumping off a balcony to his death. According to a report on CTV News, the following statements were made:
“The dog that fell from a high-rise balcony in Vancouver neighborhood over the weekend appeared to be trying to get back inside. The Australian shepherd plummeted to its death from the 21st floor as bystanders watched helplessly. The animal wasn’t thrown or pushed, but investigators are still trying to determine whether cruelty charges are warranted against the person responsible for allowing the dog to be in that dangerous situation.”
Do dogs know not to jump off balconies?
Based on the evidence and examples in the news, however rare, dogs in the main won’t jump of balconies, but they don’t always know to not jump off balconies. They are dogs, and rational through will often be missing as it’s unlikely they appreciate the risk.
You should never leave your dog unsupervised on a balcony, no matter the situation or circumstance. Although most dogs will be reluctant to climb over the edge of a balcony, it is not rare for smaller dogs to accidentally squeeze through the bars and fall.
When the risks of a dog jumping off a balcony is highest
If you are the owner of a smaller breed, exercise caution when letting them onto the balcony, as a fall will more often than not prove lethal. In much the same vein, puppies should never be allowed onto the balcony without constant supervision from their owners.
Likewise, the same is true for larger dogs who have been known to misjudge the height and try to attempt to escape balconies through jumping.
Typically, this behavior is most likely to occur in male dogs after they have caught the scent of a female in heat.
Therefore, you should only let your male dog out onto the balcony if they have been neutered, or if the area is completely dog-proof (tips lower down page on dog-proofing a balcony).
Similarly, females in heat are notorious for being brilliant at escaping the home and should be encouraged to stay inside until their cycles are over.
Dogs who are either extremely territorial or highly energetic should also be watched closely. If your pooch can see over the balcony, either by standing on its hind legs or by jumping onto a vantage point (such as a chair), there is a risk that they may spot another dog below and try to reach them.
Unfortunately, this desire can sometimes override a dog’s natural instinct to shy away from great heights, leading to dangerous situations.
Lastly, loud noises, such as fireworks, can startle even the calmest dogs into jumping, and as such, you should keep your pup inside the home during any type of noisy celebrations.
Are dogs aware of heights then?
In general, most dogs develop an understanding of heights as they begin to reach adulthood.
Through trial and error, they begin to realize the difference between a dangerous jump (or fall) and a safe one, purposefully avoiding areas where they can risk injuring themselves.
In fact, you have probably noticed this behavior when taking your dog on walks through the countryside.
For example, it is not uncommon for canines to shy away from sheer cliffs and other areas that present a dangerous challenge to their agility and sense of balance. Similarly, this trait can sometimes be seen in urban areas as well, with many nervous dogs refusing to walk across bridges or other high areas that make them feel uncomfortable.
Are puppies aware of heights and balconies?
Unlike their more mature and older counterparts, puppies rarely have any understanding of height or the dangers of balconies.
Just like human babies, it takes time for them to develop any sort of distance perception, with this often accounting for their amusing habit of bumping into things or stumbling over objects.
Unfortunately, if left to their own devices, young puppies can fall or jump from balconies or easily get into situations where they are at risk of falling and seriously injuring themselves.
Although falls from balconies are the most dangerous, falls from stairs, high furniture, and even beds can potentially result in a visit to the vet for your puppy.
Because of this, it is important that you dog-proof your home before introducing a new puppy into the household, which we will explore in further detail later on in the article.
Can dogs be afraid of heights and balconies?
Interestingly, it is not uncommon for dogs to develop a fear of heights. Like humans, dogs can be afraid of absolutely anything, ranging from cars, strangers, skateboards, and even small animals, although this is rare.
As previously mentioned, dogs naturally develop an awareness of heights as they get older, with this trait helping them to survive.
Therefore, when put in a situation wherein they may be at risk of falling, such as a high balcony, most dogs will experience a fear response and avoid going near that area in the future.
However, at times, certain dogs will develop extreme phobias around heights, refusing to go anywhere near the balcony or even struggling to climb the stairs.
Generally, dogs suffering this mental affliction will have experienced some traumatic event in their life, such as a fall that resulted in a severe injury, or at the very least, significant pain.
Despite this, it is not uncommon for canines to pick up on other pooch’s anxiety, and from time to time, they could inherit this behavior from other dogs or pets in the household.
How do you make a balcony dog friendly and safe?
Thankfully, there are many different methods in which you can pet and dog-proof your balcony. With some ingenuity, this area of your home can quickly become a space that is safe for your dog to relax in without fear of them jumping and falling from a great height.
First and foremost, it is worth mentioning that some balconies are better suited to our canine companions than others. For example, balconies with screened-in enclosures are often very safe and almost inescapable for most dogs.
However, it is still worth checking the screens for any signs of tears or gaps before allowing your dog to spend long periods there.
1. Buy balcony netting or screening
It’s the same stuff designed for kids and can help to dog-proof your balcony but creating a mesh to cover any gaps that smaller dogs and puppies might be able to squeeze through.
You can buy the stuff on Amazon, here’s some I found.
Take a close look at your railings and determine whether your dog is able to squeeze through them. Be mindful that some dogs have a lot of fur, and that this can commonly appear deceptive in regard to their actual size.
If you don’t want to buy that Amazon suggestion, try filling in the gaps between the railings with mosquito netting, plexi-panels, or other suitable materials.
Additionally, make sure that whatever you use is chew-proof and non-toxic for dogs. Another option you can try is using large and heavy dog-friendly plants to block the gaps.
However, you should make sure that your pooch is unable to push them out of the way or knock them over.
2. Remove any furniture or items dogs can stand on
When it comes to more open balconies, the first step you should take to pet-proof this area is by moving any furniture you own away from the edge.
In most cases, dogs will only fall from a balcony because they were able to get to a higher vantage point, thus allowing them to jump.
The life of a dog owner can be stressful, especially when we have a nagging doubt in the back of our heads that they might hurt themselves when our back is turned.
Jumping from balconies is a very real fear.
Naturally, this has led dog owners to wonder whether their furry friends have an understanding of heights, or if they are oblivious to these dangers.
As established, whilst rare in older dogs, it can still happen so make sure your dog-proof your balcony and keep an eye on them at all times.
You might also like…
- Why some people think it’s cruel to keep a blind dog (I don’t)
- Here’s how you stop your dog jumping fences
- Why people with 9 to 5 jobs might not want to get a dog
Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-balcony-home-on-brown-canine-4113859/