While some pet owners gently pat their laps or areas beside them to encourage their dog to get up on the sofa, bed or chair with them, not every pet owner wants this behavior. Some pet owners love their dogs but want them to sleep in their dog beds or other areas they deem appropriate.
The decision to allow your dog on the furniture is ideally not is a personal one but one made as a family. Consistency is important to help your dog understand what is acceptable and expected behavior and what is not. Behavior problems can develop from inconsistency.
If you aren't sure as a household if you want your new dog on or off the furniture, the best policy is to start off with a no furniture policy. It is much easier to grant access than take it away.
Why Dogs Love to Go on Furniture
Just like with us, it is natural for a dog to enjoy a warm soft place to sleep and you may notice where they sleep because they sleep during many of our waking hours. Dogs generally sleep fourteen hours a day including naps and longer periods of sleep. Learn more about Sleep Behavior of Dogs.
However, there are alternatives to dogs sleeping on our furniture. Dog beds come in hundreds of shapes, sizes, fabrics, textures, and styles. If you are choosing a bed for your dog and this is part of your training to keep your dog off the furniture, consider a fabric similar to his favorite spot.
When shopping for a dog bed, the most desirable features include ones that your dog loves. Your dog's bed should provide comfort, conserve body heat, be easy to clean and machine washable, durable, and is either waterproof or moisture resistant. A durable, washable donut-shaped bed with a ridge or bolster around the perimeter can preserve warmth and provide comfort. An ideal location for the bed is one where you spend a lot of time such as the TV room or kitchen.
If your dog is showing signs of dominance and snapping or growling when you try to get him or her to move, you have bigger problems. It is best to discuss options and training with your veterinarian. Some training is required immediately.
3 Benefits of Having Your Dog Trained to Not Go on Furniture
There are several benefits of having your dog trained NOT to go on the furniture.
- Some people have allergies - It is estimated that 15 to 20% of people are allergic to pets. The substance that causes the allergic reaction is called an “allergen”. Some people with allergies have runny noses, coughs, itchy skin or watery itchy red eyes. A more serious reaction can be difficulty breathing. The most common pet allergen is the dander which is the old skin which is shed. It is commonly found on bedding and anywhere your dog has been sleeping. For people with allergies, having your dog trained not to go on the furniture can be beneficial.
- Cuts down on unwanted hair on clothing - People that have their pets on furniture commonly have hair on them. Many pet owners leave for work with black pants and find that their bottom is covered in dog hair.
- Minimize Confusion - If you travel or take your dog places with you, it can be confusing to have different rules in different places. For example, if you take your dog with you to a friend's house, they may not appreciate the dog on furniture behavior. It can be difficult for your dog to understand that some behaviors are okay sometimes but not other times. It is less confusing to your dog to be consistent.
Training Tips for Teaching Your Dog to Stay Off the Furniture
Once your dog has learned the comfort of being on the furniture without discipline, it can be hard to eliminate this behavior. The best way to keep your dog off the furniture is to do the following.
- Be consistent. The most important thing you can do is to be consistent and ideally have everyone in your dog's life be consistent. Having one person allow a behavior while another does not make it very confusing to the dog. Remember, they don't NEED to be on the furniture. It is not going to hurt them to be in their own comfy dog bed.
- Train. It is ideal for your dog to respect you and be trained in general. Dogs that understand come, sit, stay, down can be trained to understand “off”. That means get off the furniture. This helps teach your dog that you are the alpha dog.
- Train off. You can train your dog to get “off” by saying the word “off” and making a sweeping or pointing hand gesture to get your dog to leave their spot. When your dog moves, give him a treat. Then lead your dog to his bed and give him another treat.
- Get a dog bed and train your dog it is his. It is important that you have a nice bed for your dog and once you do, train your dog to go to its bed.
- No rewards. One of the most important things you can do is to reward good behavior. Instead of yelling at your dog, reward the behavior you desire. To learn more about the benefits of positive behavior training, go to 5 Benefits of Positive Behavior Reinforcement for Your Dog.
- Consider when you aren't home. When you aren't around, make the location where he/she likes to sleep unattractive or prevent access. Here are some tips to consider to keep your dog off the furniture when you aren't around:
- Prevent access. If your dogs like to sleep on your bed and that is what you are trying to prevent, shut the bedroom door. You can also use the baby gates, storage containers, or milk crates on the furniture as an excellent temporary deterrent.
- Chemical deterrents. Try deterrents around the area where you don't want your dog to sleep such as by spraying the area with rubbing alcohol, water mixed with lemon juice, or vinegar. This method doesn't work consistently on every dog. Some dogs like these scents and are not inhibited. Test anything you use to ensure it is safe on the surface you are spraying
- Physical deterrents. Create physical deterrents access with things that make noises such as bubble paper (bubble wrap), newspaper or aluminum foil. Again, some dogs don't care about this and others do. The key is finding what works for your dog. Some people have success with using a car mat or carpet protector and turning it upside down and placing on the spot of interest. The little plastic points can make the area unappealing and uncomfortable. Sticky Tape® is another thing you can put on some areas. Sticky tape is a double-sided tape that you put on furniture and is commonly marketed to prevent cat scratching. You can prevent access by turning sofa cushions in different directions.
- Create unpleasant sounds. The best way to keep your dog honest with this behavior is to ensure he believes that any deterrent is consistent. Some behaviorists recommend that you hide and when you see a behavior you don't want, use an unpleasant sound such as shaking rocks in a soup can, air horn, or spraying compressed air. The idea is to let your dog believe there are consequences to this behavior that has nothing to do with you. That way he stays off the furniture even when you aren't home.
Changing dog behavior can be difficult and take days, weeks and even months. The most important thing is to be consistent and reward good desirable behavior.
We hope these tips help you understand more about how to keep your dog off the furniture.