How To Keep Your Dog From Getting On The Sofa/Couch

I once had a dog who refused to stop getting on the sofa.  Sure, I taught him to stay off the sofa when I was home, but as soon as I went to sleep or left the house, I could hear him jumping back up in his favorite spot on the sofa…

…and he got doggy fur all over the clean upholstery . We fought this battle for most of his life and I was always frustrated.  Since that time, though, I’ve learned a lot of little tricks and ways of training a dog so you can keep your fur friend off the sofa and that training starts when your dog is young.

Puppy Training

Dogs understand the concept of territory and they respect restrictions about territory.  If you tell your dog not to go into a room or if you make a doorway your own, your dog will usually respect what you tell them.  Most of the time, your dog will only disobey these boundaries if you stop being the alpha leader or if you fail to set up the boundaries.

As soon as you bring your new puppy home you should set clear boundaries about where he can go in the house and when he’s allowed to go there.  When your puppy is still very young you need to be extremely consistent.  As your puppy gets a little older you can make some exceptions if you wish and your dog can comprehend that it’s an exception to the rule but when he’s a puppy you have to be clear and consistent with the boundaries.

You’ll need to make rules for your household, too and make sure everyone in your home adheres to them.  Children are often guilty of breaking the rules and letting a dog do all kinds of things they shouldn’t do.  Remember that you’re trying to teach the dog that the sofa belongs to you and he shouldn’t be up there, ever.

When You’re Away From Home

Of course, things don’t always go according to plan.  It just seems that the appeal of a soft, comfortable spot on the sofa, where you sit all the time, is too much for a dog and when you’re not home your dog feels like he’s the master of the house.  What dog wouldn’t want to jump up on the sofa?

It won’t help to yell at your dog or try to catch him while he’s being naughty.  Your dog already knows when he’s likely to be caught and he waits until you won’t be there.  You need to find a way to dissuade your dog from jumping on the sofa and teaching him that it’s not a pleasant place to be.

You should avoid spray deterrents and odors.  They can make the sofa less comfortable but they don’t usually work for dogs that jump up there to sleep.  They will only keep the dog from licking the sofa.

One good way to keep your dog from jumping up on the sofa when you aren’t home is crate training.  You can keep your dog in an enclosed space if you are away or asleep and your dog will have his own spot for sleeping.

You can also try laying things across the sofa.  Try using balloons, books, plastic mats, cardboard boxes or newspapers and plastic coat hangers for example.  You can use anything as long as it’s not as comfortable as the sofa cushions that your dog enjoys.  This can help teach your dog that the sofa is not as pleasant as he thinks.

On the other hand, you will need to cope with all the things on the sofa that your dog may scatter around your living room.  Crate training as an alternate sleeping place is still a good idea.  Don’t allow your dog on the sofa or other furniture, even when he looks at you with pleading eyes; and watch your dog like a hawk so he doesn’t get on the sofa when you aren’t looking.

You may not be able to completely get your dog to stop getting on the sofa when you leave him home alone, unless you use a crate.  On the other hand some dogs will learn to respect the fact that the furniture is off-limits.  You can also teach him that he has his own bed for sleeping.  In the end, that’s about all you can do to train him to stay off the sofa and in his own place.

Mark Mansfield

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