Keeping Your Dog Off the Furniture
This was a question I got recently, a plea if you will from a dog owner who doesn’t want to share her furniture with her dog.
Now, first let me say; my home is a complete dog zone. If you don’t like dogs, dog hair, dog toys, dirt from paws… you are probably in the wrong place.
I do put a sheet over my furniture 😉 but that is about as fancy as it gets at my house. Everything belongs to the critters and the humans here. That is only because I don’t have aggression problems with my dogs; if I did they would have to stay on the floor. Being on the furniture is a privilege to be earned and when you are naughty, you don’t get that privilege.
But, I totally respect those that want to keep nice things.
I often look around at scratched furniture and dirt spots and say “You guys are the reason I can’t have nice things”!
But let’s face it, it’s because I like a good canine snuggle 😉 with some feet up my nose.
Then there is that part of me, that desires to have nice things.
First thing is first! Dogs need consistency so figure out what you want or which side of the fence you are on.
Do you need hugs and snuggles and pointy nails up your nostril?
Or do you have a desire to have nice furniture and contain the hair and the dirt to the floor?
#1 Problem Consistency
The first problem that people encounter is lack of consistency. One person may want the dog on the furniture and another may not; or worse someone might be sneaking the dog up when the other person is away!!
This lack of consistency and/or complete sneakiness only gets your dog in trouble. He doesn’t understand why he can get on the sofa or bed sometimes and not others.
He may be able to understand that when dad gets out of the bed in the morning, he can climb in; but he doesn’t grasp the concept that dad doesn’t want him in the bed or that it makes him angry.
By not being totally consistent you are setting your dog up for failure.
#2 Problem “Dog Furniture”
This doesn’t work (or at least takes considerably more effort) because the dog doesn’t see the big difference.
You might recognize that the other furniture is “new” or leather or nicer, but the dog associates space and height, if you will, as the same as all the other furniture.
If he is allowed at a higher level, sofa, bed, chair he associates that he is accepted on all things that level.
Is it possible to have just dog furniture?
Sure, but you have to be more patient with teaching your dog and expect that he is going to have some difficulty understanding the difference at first. He isn’t trying to try his boundaries he is just trying to get comfortable!
I like to set everyone up for success to the best of my abilities.
Dogs like to be comfortable; they seek warm, soft places so by providing them with SEVERAL dog beds you can set them up for more success.
I have three dog beds in my living room (at least one for each) and I have three dog beds in my bedroom and also in our rec room.
By having numerous beds in central locations they feel like they have somewhere to lay and still be part of the action.
If you want the bed never to get used… put it in some corner somewhere! Dogs want to be with us, so their beds are best left close to us and the furniture.
Now, TEACH Him What You Expect and Want
What you will need:
- Your Dog
- His LEASH (this helps him learn and gives you control)
- Great Treats
First you are going to quietly lead your dog to the sofa or other article of furniture you don’t want him on.
Click and treat if he keeps all four feet on the ground.
If he puts a foot, or other body part on the sofa, use a kind voice tell him “off” and use the leash to help him get all four feet on the ground.
Now continue to play this game.
Do not (at first) have your dog sit or lay down this avoids the problem and the learning. Just because he is laying down on command, doesn’t mean he understands that THAT keeps him off of the sofa.
You want him to explore and learn what you want.
Continue doing this until he is comfortable with all of himself on the ground.
Now you are going to coax him up, but you can’t cheat and use his name.
You can pat the sofa, you can put his toys up on the sofa, you can put food up on the sofa.
You WANT him to make a mistake. Yes I realize that sounds funny, but in order to learn he has to make the mistake of getting on the furniture in front of you; and he needs to know that no matter what you don’t want him up there.
When he does make a mistake, you aren’t going to blow up and get angry… remember you expect it; you want it! So when he does tell him “Off” in a kind, yet slightly commanding voice and click and treat him for getting off use his leash if you need.
Remember to use OFF and not DOWN. I can’t tell you how many times my husband says DOWN when the dogs are laying in his spot in the bed (ha ha) and they wiggle around and put their heads down because they don’t know he means OFF.
If you use the wrong command it is YOUR fault not your dogs!
Now it is time to switch up the furniture and play the same game all around your living room and bedroom, or wherever else; being sure to reward for a job well done.
Your dog should pick up on this pretty quick.
And, later if he makes a mistake you can use a short tab leash to help him get off and then take him to his dog bed and command him down.
- Be consistent and make sure everyone else is!
- Set him up for success by buying him cozy places to lay.
- And TEACH him what you want by utilizing his leash and rewarding him for a job well done!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.