Dogs and Fur-niture

Behavior and Training  •   AKC Pet Insurance  •   Oct 05, 2016

Do you want your dog on the furniture? What are your rules for furniture? It’s your house and your rules fly. It isn’t necessarily “bad” to allow your pups to cuddle with you when you sleep or when you watch movies. Read on to learn how to be consistent and how to train your dog the standards for your home.

If you do not want your dog on the furniture, follow these tips:

  1. Block access to the furniture when you are not in the room or when you’re not nearby to enforce the rules that your dog is not allowed on those pieces of furniture. Use baby-gates or close doors to keep your dog out of the room. This will ensure your dog doesn’t get into the habit of sleeping on the sofa or on your bed when you’re not around. For example, you may even use large cardboard boxes or laundry baskets to block your dog from getting on the couch.
  2. Give your dog a comfortable location where he should be. For example, treat your dog for being on his bed in the living room or in your bedroom. He’ll learn that that is his “spot” to be.
  3. Use a leash (indoors!) if needed so you can control your dog during the learning period. A leashed dog in the living room will not cross the living room to jump on a chair and curl up. You can treat a leashed dog next to you for quietly resting on his dog bed. (For information on the “go to your bed” command, see this blog.)

If you do want your dog on the furniture:

  1. Determine which pieces of furniture your dog may access. Your dog can be trained to learn that he is allowed on some furniture but not on other pieces. Perhaps that older sofa is ok but your new chair is for humans only. You may choose to allow dogs on furniture by “invite only;” this means he is only welcome on the furniture when you give the command word (“up”) and point to that furniture piece. If you do not do “invite only,” then your dog would be allowed on that furniture at any time (without a command word, such as “up”) unless you tell him “off.”
  2. Have an “off” word. This is different than a command word for anything else and it is not a punishment or correction. Instead, it is a command for getting your dog off of furniture that he is allowed to use (until you say otherwise). To train this, tell your dog “off” and either toss a cookie on the floor or gently guide him off the furniture. When he has all four feet on the floor, tell him “yes” and give him (another) treat. Over time, you will not always treat this. Be sure that your dog doesn’t keep jumping up on the couch so that you keep saying “off” and then he gets a treat each time.

If you’re having any issues with your dog growling or grumbling at you when he is on furniture, consult a professional dog trainer.

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