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How to Keep Your Dog Off the Couch

Picture of a dog on the couch

If you are the owner of a dog who doesn’t understand the concept of personal space, you know how hard it is to get a moment to yourself. While most dog owners do enjoy cuddling with their best canine pals, some families prefer for Fido to have furniture that is all his own to enjoy, leaving theirs a people only zone. Teaching your dog to stay off your couch doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think. Though your pooch may have ideas all his own about the best place to lay his head; with a few simple tricks and a lot of consistency, you can help Fido to learn that his bed is an awesome place to be. What is the best way to teach your dog to stay off the couch? 

Top Tips for Teaching Your Dog His Place

If you prefer for your couch to remain the strict domain of human family members in your home, you will need to teach Fido his “place.” Here are some of our top tips for helping Fido to learn the couch is a no dog zone:

  • Consistency is key.

Dogs learn best when the rules are consistent. If you allow Fido up on the couch from time to time, he will easily become confused when at other times he is pushed away when he attempts to climb up on the furniture beside you.

To remain as consistent as possible, all family members must be on the same page. If Dad is resolute in relegating Fido to his own bed while Mom allows couch cuddles when Dad is not looking, it will be that much harder for Fido to learn that his bed is the place he is expected to lay. Set your dog up for success by setting boundaries and remaining consistent with them.

  • Teach a solid “off” command.

When a dog becomes excited, he will naturally jump up on whatever happens to be nearby. This could mean a person, a table, or a piece of furniture. When your dog tries to put any part of their body on your couch, it is important that he responds to your request for him to remove himself from the furniture. The “off” command is the best way to accomplish this.

To teach the “off” command effectively, you will need to carry treats with you to use to reward your dog when he offers the correct behavior when asked to do so. When your dog approaches the furniture and places a paw on it or jumps up, tell your dog “Off” in a firm, clear voice. You may need to give your dog a gentle nudge off the furniture. When the dog is on the floor, repeat “Off” and give him a treat, taking care to praise him when he successfully complies with your request. This process will need to be repeated several times before your dog fully understands the command and what is expected of him when you say the word “off.” However, the “off” command has many valuable uses including when guests come to your home and Fido gets a little too enthusiastic with his greeting as well as when you want him to remove himself from your furniture, tables, or other household items. 

  • Reward your dog for going to his bed.

If you make your dog’s bed a place where he is rewarded, he will naturally start to gravitate towards it. Your dog favors the couch for two reasons: it is where you are, and let’s face it…it’s darned comfortable. You can combat this problem by purchasing your dog a bed that is plush and luxurious feeling, increasing his comfort level and thus making the bed more attractive to him.

To train your dog to go to his bed, place the bed in close proximity to the couch. Lure your dog to his bed by throwing some treats into it for him to enjoy. Watch your dog carefully. Each time your dog willingly chooses to touch his bed, reward him with treats and praise, so that he learns that good things happen when he is touching his bed. Once your dog is comfortable touching the bed, ask him to lay down or sit in it. You can then name this behavior “Go to your bed,” taking care to lavish your dog with treats and praise when he complies with your request. Over time and with enough repetition, your dog will soon learn this command and will happily lay down in his very own space when asked to do so, and sometimes, all on his very own. 

  • Prevent behaviors you don’t want to encourage.

Since you cannot supervise or issue commands when you are not home, it is a good idea to block off your dog’s access to your couch when you have to go out for any length of time. You can do this by making use of a baby gate to contain your dog to a specific area of the house or even a dog crate. 

  • Eliminate opportunities for jumping on the couch.

Dogs can be rather ingenious when they are determined to do something, so this may not work for every household. However, you can do many different things to try to make it difficult for your dog to access your couch. Some of the most effective ways to get Fido to cool his jets elsewhere include placing wooden chairs or upside-down laundry baskets on the couch. You can even surround the couch with an ex-pen to keep Fido off; however, this would also mean that any family members at home in your absence are also in the no-couch zone until you return.

An Important Caveat

There are other, more aversive methods that could be used to train a dog to stay off the furniture. Many trainers would recommend shaking a can of pennies to startle the dog or spraying him in the face with a water bottle to discourage the behavior. However, these tactics only make the dog avoid the reaction they receive for attempting to jump on the couch. They do not address the desired behavior you are trying to elicit.

Since dogs learn best when they understand what is expected of them, it is always wise to make use of positive reinforcement training techniques and to give the dog choices, rewarding him richly for making the right decision. This is the most effective means by which to accomplish your goal.

Got a dog who’s determined to be up on your couch? Try some of our top tips to teach Fido his bed is the best place to be!

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