Keeping Your Dog Off the Furniture

Thank you 123rf for the photo

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.

So What Do You Do?

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”

People often think they will have “just dog” furniture; a sofa or a chair that he can sit in but he has to stay off of the other furniture in the house.

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!

Setting Yourself and Your Dog Up for Success!

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)
  • Clicker
  • Great Treats

Getting Started:

Dog Furniture can be Really Fancy Now!

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!


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  1. Debbie Owen says:

    Thanks for replying to my plea! 🙂 Now I have a better understanding about how to to teach them to stay off of the furniture. First step – getting more comfy dog beds for them to lie on around the house! I had this in the back of my mind anyway, but hadn’t jumped on it yet because the good ones are so expensive. But my husband and I will have to accept paying for expensive dog beds if we want to keep dirty paws off of the more-expensive couches and beds! An easy trade, really. Then we’ll try the next steps you suggest. Thanks!!


    Minette Reply:

    So glad I could help 🙂 Good luck to you all and yes dog beds are much cheaper than sofas..

    And, not to plug a business… but you can usually get them cheap and nice at Sam’s Club, that’s where I get most of mine and they are the therapeutic kind for 20 or 30


  2. mary says:

    great to know how to do this but is it ok for him to get on one pice in your bed room are will it confuse him when you traing him i do have sheet on my things and when i take them off to wash them he stay off and lays on the floor he learns that him self so it might be easy to train him like that he can be very strubent when he wants to be thank you


    Minette Reply:

    like I mentioned, in the beginning I think it can be more difficult for them to understand.

    Some dogs are quicker learners so you can see, but if he starts getting on other furniture you may have to limit him to dog beds and the floor


  3. tricia ward says:

    Can anyone help me?
    My 5 yearold foxterrier has recently decided to rush up to young
    Children especially if they have a ball and bark jump up nipping their clothes and scaring them.
    I think she is trying to play but theydon’t understand this and Iam afraid of the possible consequences
    We have ayoung jackie cross male dog too


  4. Ginnie Rueber says:

    I started out letting my puppy on the chair with me for about 6 months this was fine, now she wants to tear the chair apart. I’ve tried buying her beds she tears them apart. I bought her a soft cushion for the bottom of her crate. yep tore that apart. If she manages to get up on my bed she tries to tear the covers apart. I don’t know what else to do. I’ve tried not letting her on the chair at all but she still tries to tear the dog beds apart. So what do I do now? She is almost 14 months old. And a pug and can be quite stubborm.


  5. Ginnie Rueber says:

    I have a 14 month old pug that tears up my chair as soon as I leave the room, she’ll also try to tear up the bed if she manages to get to it. I’ve bought her several beds she tears them up too and I bought her a cushion for the bottom of her crate she tore that up too. What do you suggest I try now?


    Minette Reply:

    no beds in her crate!!

    Actually as I read this, I keep thinking how lucky you are that you haven’t had to have these things removed from her gut!!

    Stop leaving her alone!!

    If she eats the things in the room when you leave… you need to put her on a leash and bring her with you throughout the house.


    A big part of the reason she is going this… is because she is bored and shredding things is fun.

    If she went on a couple mile run every morning, she would be much less likely to get in trouble… she’d be too busy sleeping!


  6. Pat says:

    I believe this subject matter completly and have trained mt cat to sit and waite for my signal to come up in my lap.
    My question is how to keep a dog from stealing food (loaves of bread) off the kitchen counters. First, I know it is best to put food away, the problem happens when no one is around to supervise the dog.


    Minette Reply:

    Sometimes you can “fake the dog out” and leave… but not really leave.. then you can catch him in the act of stealing… and then you can teach him what you want. but sometimes you just have to put food up when you leave!

    Read this


  7. Anna says:

    My 2 year old mix has never been allowed on the furniture or upstairs (bedrooms and where we feed the cats). We have a bed in our small kitchen right by the table (she is GREAT while we eat thanks to you!!) and one in the living room by the couch. We sit on the floor with her alot in there as well as on the couch.So here’s my problem, Bella sneaks on the couch to sleep when we are not home and sometimes at night.She is SO obvious too because even if we don’t catch her at the time,she acts so guilty. I handle it by saying ‘Oh Bell! Were you on the couch?’ And she comes over to me all timid and sorry. I try not to laugh. I just say, ‘No! You stay off!” And of course she does it again. How do you suggest I handle this? Plus only recently she has been sneaking upstairs and eating the cats food? We never even had any problem with upstairs before. I would appreciate any suggestions. Thank you.
    FYI she is SOOO good! We can leave food on the coffee table while we go out of the room and she would never touch it.(Also thanks to you!!) But now this sneaking?? I don’t get it but I want to handle it right.


  8. Suzanne says:

    My dogs have rules, the furniture or bed isn’t one of them.
    One of my favorite time with them is on the couch in the morning with a cup of coffee.
    We do conformation all are Champions. Competition Obedience, Agility and Freestyle.


    Minette Reply:

    I love Freestyle!!! I think once I get a few more titles on my girl we are going to do that 🙂


  9. ROBERT LONGO says:



  10. Virginia Bohannon says:

    We feed our cat on the counter in the Utility Room where our dogs can’t reach it. It could be any high space where you don’t mind having a cat get up on.


    Anna Reply:

    Thank you for that suggestion. Any thoughts on what to do about the sneaking and why she is doing it? You can tell by the paw/body imprints (it’s that micro fiber material) but she ALWAYS gives herself away so she obviously knows. I don’t get it?


  11. sue walker says:

    Good article on dogs and furniture. I don’t like dogs on my furniture as I have always believed that they should be on the floor but the rest of my family feels otherwise. So the compromise was that I put out a blanket on a piece of furniture (which happens to be leather) and that is where she is allowed to go. When the blanket is removed, for say when company comes over, she knows that there is no place for her on the couch and that she has a few mats and beds to go to. It all seems to work well enough at this point (she is a year and a half) but I know that you can’t teach it once and then be done with it forever!


  12. Linda says:

    I’ve never had a problem with dogs on my furniture or in the bed. I’ve used dog beds and also one special chair is dog friendly. That is ‘the dog’s bed’ and when I took her to the kennel, they let me take along her little cricket chair plus her bed. Maybe I just got lucky but two of my dogs were cattle dogs and they are usually into and on everything! Good luck!


  13. sandy says:

    Hi, we have a puppy 9 months old (German Shorthaired Pointer) weighs 45 pounds and is very intelligent,but, she is the first dog we have ever had that will not stop jumping up to the kitchen counter or kitchen table, (sneaking, not when you are watching) She has eaten half a pumpkin pie, pulled bread from a plate, has completely cleaned off the kitchen table and ate all leftovers while we took a phone call, leftovers to include an onion, which we immediately contacted our vet to discuss the possible consequences, she knows NOT to do this, yet she will do it everytime she has a chance, no matter how much scolding or time out she continues to revisit the kitchen counter top or table top when possible…


    Minette Reply:

    Read this article


  14. Anna says:

    I have read somewhere, and it has worked with my two dogs to put aluminum foil and or hangers on the furniture you don’t want them on. They don’t like the sound it makes when they step on it, and they stay off. I normally am okay with them on furniture with blankets on them, but I’ve always had a chair I don’t want them on. The material of the chair is impossible to get the hair off of. Now, my boyfriend is not a fan of the hair being everywhere, even when a blanket is on the furniture the hair still gets on it. We are working with the above trick, to keep the dogs off furniture and on their own beds. It is working for us. I’m not sure they’d stay down if the foil wasn’t there when we sleep at night.


  15. Dave Ferguson says:

    I have two shar-pei, Mac 7 & Li 3. They are both allowed onto the couches only when the covers are on. They sit and look at us when the covers are off, as if asking for the covers to be put on as they both know that they are not allowed on when the covers are off.


  16. Jose says:

    Thank you for this very interesting article that sheds light on how dogs see things in their mind. My Chihuahua loves to get on the couch to get to us, so that he can rest his tinny body on one of us. Sometines, he might climb to get a better view far away since he is so small that he can see far into the street.We are like you, our place is his place and there are toys all over. However, when he does something that is not supposed to, like barking at dogs on TV, we put him down off the couch, since as you say this is a privilege. Thanks again for such an interesting article.


  17. nalini says:

    My dog-Himalayan Mastiff is now 11 months and has been behaving very weird these days..she’s chewing up everything she finds on the floor or even sumtimes on the table or kitchen counter. she’s eating up her bed,bedsheets, pillows and almost everything. its impossible to get her off the furniture as these days its quite cold and anythign we lay down for her to sit or lie on she chews it up or goes round and round with it. if she has nothing left on the floor, she comes up on the bed to relax and be cozy. When left alone, she would jump on the bed, mess up the bedsheets,cushions and make a mess. Now even worse she sees anythign hanging from a pillow or bed like a ribbon etc..she’d chew that as well.. wondering why she’s suddenly changed so much. we are now getting very irritated with this behaviour and also she jumping on guests non stop..she just wouldnt stay calm or down and the only option then is to tie her up..but again until the guests leave she’d be barking her lungs out to unleash her..either ways its chaos. pls help and advise what to do?
    she knows all basic commands but at times doesn’t listen to any command specially in front of strangers or visitors.


    Minette Reply:

    Mastiffs are late bloomers and she is going through a behavior stage.

    Go back in her training make her comply, work the basics, keep things picked up or keep her with you and this too shall pass!

    But be consistent or this is the dog you will end up with 😉


  18. Corbun says:

    Great article! My 4 dogs are only allowed in certain rooms in the house and they are allowed on the furniture in those rooms. I also have a couple of pet beds on the floor so that they have a choice of where to lay down. They each have their own favorite place, one on the coach by the window, one on the coach by the TV, one on a pet bed on the floor in front of the fireplace and the fourth dog prefers to lay down on the floor where ever he can block the other dogs from going outside. They are funny and great creatures, each one different.


  19. W says:

    So I am taking care of my mothers dog now (due to her health) and my issue goes along with this post.
    Its a Min-Pin/Pug mix and he is used to sleeping in a bed or on furniture. However I don’t like him doing that. But when I’m gone he jumps on the bed and sleeps there during the day. If I tell him not to jump on the bed with me at night… will he not do it during the day?
    Or should I try a spray water bottle and spray when he tries to come up? I’m not used to having a pet and I am lost!



    Minette Reply:

    He will likely do what he wants when you are gone if this is what he is use to.

    I would utilize a crate when you are gone and calmly teach him to stay off furniture when you are there… be patient as it is what he is use to.


  20. Maree says:

    My 3 year old German Shepherd has never been allowed on the lounge, she has a big comfy dog bed right next to it. However if I don’t tip the cushions back at night to make it uncomfortable she gets up during the night when I’m asleep never when I’m awake.Because I’m always asleep when she does it I cannot correct her. On the few occasions I have caught her she is quick to get down. She is mostly a good darling girl otherwise.


  21. janaya says:

    What if you do all this and the dog STILL,, hops up on the furniture? I have been saying “off” for 10 months and the only thing I have accomplished is when I she jumps up and I yell “off” to move towards her, she jumps off wherever she’s at. She KNOWS she isn’t supposed to up anywhere. 4 minutes later…we do it all over again. It will take SEVERAL HOURS before she gives up and lays on the floor or goes in her crate. THEN…the minute I go to get comfortable or she hears one move out of me…we start the crap all over again. Its really annoying reading these blogs or articles and u people give cookie cutter tips for dog training, but none say what to do when none of it works, and you just have hard headed dogs like some people have human children that are just bad. Its mentally and physically exhausting telling her off and putting her off the couch all day. My dog is 1 now. STILL doing the same thing. I’ve tried shaking a loud can. I’ve tried spraying with water, did that at early age and she just drinks it. No cares about watee being sprayed. If I yell quiet whej she’s barking annoyingly…she will change to a whine or low growl. The dog knows what it is…and still does it. So what now? What now do people like me do with a dog that just won’t listen and is actually better behaved when you just let them do what they want.


    Minette Reply:

    Use a leash in the house so you can quietly pluck the dog off of the furniture yelling OFF is obviously not working, instead just pluck the dog off of the furniture and perhaps teach the dog the “place” command


  22. Millie says:

    Why does my dog always jump on furniture & beds no matter the consistent training i do that u suggest? Shes 9 & i rescued her. She does it sneaky when she thinks we r not around despite the expensive multiple dog bedding we provide. She obviously knows shes not supposed to do it by the way she scurries away when she hears us coming into the room


    Minette Reply:

    You have to keep her on a leash and with you. And, not allow her access when you leave, so you would have to crate her.

    I’m like the pied piper at my house, when I get up all my rats follow me so I know they aren’t getting into trouble because I can see them.


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