How to Keep a Dog Off the Furniture

Despite your best efforts to train your dog to respect boundaries, it might be common for you to return home from work to discover that your beloved canine has taken up residence on the couch like an unwelcome freeloader. Setting boundaries and reinforcing good behavior is essential to training your pets to stay off the furniture, as is providing them a space to call their own.

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Understanding the Behavior

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There may not be a pet owner alive who hasn't left the room during a commercial, only to discover that their dog has taken residence on the couch during their momentary absence. If you haven't trained your dog to stay off the furniture, she probably has no idea she isn't supposed to be there. She isn't being defiant, or spreading her fur all over your stuff just to get back at you for crating her while you did the grocery shopping, she simply wants to be near you. You might not mind that she's on the furniture, but if you do, you need to train her to respect those boundaries.

Training and Reward

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You will need to invite your dog onto the furniture to teach her to stay off the furniture. Encourage your dog to climb onto the furniture. Reward her with a positive vocal command such as "good girl" or with a clicker if you use the clicker technique. Ask her to get down. Use a command such as "off." Don't raise your voice or forcibly remove her. When she does as you've asked, reward her with a treat. This will reinforce the good behavior of staying off the furniture. She'll associate getting down with a positive result, such as a tasty treat. Don't be deterred if your dog is a slow learner, as a lot of dogs are. Keep reinforcing the "off" command with a pocket full of treats on standby.

Her Own Space

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Many homeowners are turning to ceramic tile or hardwood. You wouldn't want to lie on cold wood or tile in the winter months and neither does your dog. Plush pillows designated as pet friendly areas, or comfy pet beds give your dog a warm alternative to snuggling beside you on the couch. Occasionally place a treat on your pet's bed to reinforce how great it is for her to be there. If she still seeks the security of your presence nearby, place her bed close to where you're sitting.

In Your Absence

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Your dog doesn't have to be a delinquent to sneak a nap in the recliner while you're away. Despite your best efforts, she may decide a snooze on the couch is OK as long as you're not around to scold her. Consider turning over the dining room chairs and placing them on the couch and in your armchairs. This will make the furniture far less appealing. Booby traps, such as a pyramid of cans are a certain deterrent, but may cause trauma to your dog and are best avoided. For those undeterred by your efforts to protect your furnishings, consider a doggy gate to keep the living room off limits in your absence.