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Who doesn’t love to curl up and relax on a plush couch?
We do! And so do our canine companions.
After your dog sees you sprawled out on your sofa, he rushes over and jumps up to share in the fun.
He may also love the view of the room or out the window when he’s perched on the couch.
But it may not be very enjoyable to have your lab’s muddy paws all over your new shirt–and new couch.
You’re brand new sparkling white couch may become a dirty brown couch in short order.
So, what’s a new Labrador Retriever owner to do?
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Should My Dog Be Allowed on the Couch?
So now you must determine what to do. Should you let your pup on the couch?
It’s a personal choice. There’s really no right or wrong answer.
You need to take into consideration that your pup may be dirty and jump on the couch. He may leave dog hairs on your new sofa.
Of course, you could always put a throw cover on the couch that you can remove and wash.
Some people decide that they don’t mind the dog on the furniture. But others don’t want him on it.
The important thing is to make a decision. And everyone in the household must be consistent in either letting the dog on the sofa or not.
If your dog guards space and doesn’t want to get off, then he shouldn’t be permitted on it in the first place.
I’ve made the “executive decision” to allow my dogs on the couch in the family room–but not in the living room.
I put a washable throw cover on the sofa.
Because I’m very consistent in enforcing my rules, the dogs learned where they’re allowed and where they aren’t.
Some considerations when making the decision of whether the dog’s permitted on the furniture are:
1. Will my dog get off the furniture on command?
If he guards space, get the help of a positive-reinforcement trainer or behaviorist to deal with the issue.
But if your pup will get on or off the sofa on your cue, it’s your house–your rules.
2. Will I mind dog hair and dirt on my furniture?
No matter how careful you are and how clean your dog is, inevitably some dog hair and dirt will remain after he’s been on the couch.
Even with a removable throw cover, some dirt and hair may get through to our sofas. And some doggie odors too.
3. There will be less space on the sofa with a pup up
No matter how much we love our dog, we may be uncomfortably squished up against the sofa back with him accompanying us.
If you have a yorkie, it’s not that big a deal. But if you have a lab or golden, there may not be enough room for you to both comfortably share the couch.
A dog bounding up on our sofa unfortunately leads to our furniture not lasting as long.
Why Does My Dog Love To Be on the Couch?
Our canine companions can be comfortable anywhere. So their desire to be on the couch often stems from more than the need to feel relaxed.
Being on the couch with us is also a bonding moment. He’ll curl up and be close to us.
The couch has our scent on it, which also draws our dogs to jump on it to relax.
Some dogs also like being higher up to see what’s happening in the entire room. And he might even have a view outside if the sofa’s near a window.
How Can I Keep My Dog Off the Couch?
It’s usually best to decide whether you want your dog on or off the furniture at the beginning before any bad habits have been established.
Even if your dog’s been on the furniture, you can still teach him to stay off. But it’s much harder to do so after he thinks the rules allow him to relax on the couch.
If the habit of getting on furniture has been occurring for a long time, managing your pup’s environment and access to the couch will be required.
1. Provide a comfy alternative place to relax
Having a really nice padded dog bed as an alternative should help your dog choose to lie there.
Generally, you want this to be more than just a thin crate pad. Many dogs love luxurious, cushioned ones.
My golden love beds with a bolster around the outside where he can rest his head as if it were a pillow.
Have these beds in the places you hang out so that your dog has a desirable alternative to your couch.
Teach him that good things happen on the bed. You can give him a favorite chew or a stuffed Extreme Kong.
I stuff my Kongs with a pate dog food and freeze them overnight so it takes some time for the dog to get the filling out.
What if you don’t want your dog on the couch but don’t mind him getting on the thread-bare old recliner? You can train him to stay off one, but that it’s fine to get on the other.
Teach the “off” training described in #4 below for the couch. But train him to get up on the recliner.
Lure him with a small, pea-sized yummy treat onto the recliner, using the cue “up.” When he jumps up praise (“good up”) and immediately reward with the treat.
If you and everyone living with the dog are consistent, he should learn what’s acceptable and what’s not.
2. Block access to the couch while you’re gone
You can use a dog gate or door in the house to keep the dog out of the room where the couch is when you’re not present.
Suppose that your pup’s always been permitted on the furniture. If you suddenly change the rules and decide that he’s not permitted there, just training to keep him off may not be sufficient.
You may have to manage his environment so that he can’t get on the couch when you’re not there.
You may want to confine him to another room like the kitchen. Still have a comfortable dog bed there for him to enjoy.
3. Make sure your pup’s had enough physical exercise
All behaviors are better after a dog’s received enough exercise.
The amount he needs depends on your dog’s breed(s), age, and health.
Of course, a young lab requires a lot of exercise. So take him for a long walk, play fetch, or have him play with a compatible doggie playmate before you leave.
4. Make sure that your dog’s had obedience training
Obedience training helps your dog understand what’s expected of him.
You can teach basic commands and can also teach him to get off the couch if he gets on.
Generally, it’s best not to lure your dog onto the couch with a treat just to lure him with a treat to get off. Doing so can teach him that he needs to jump up to get treats.
But, if he’s been allowed on the couch then you change the rules, you can train him to get off.
If he loves toys, you can use a toy to lure him off. Show him a favorite toy, say ”off” as you lure him off with the toy. Praise (“good off”) and give the toy as a reward.
If he won’t lure off the furniture with a toy, you can use a treat. Then, I would redirect the dog to a game such as fetch so that he doesn’t just jump back up on the couch.
Try to stop luring off with a treat as soon as possible so that he doesn’t jump up to get the treat when you lure him off.
Once he understands what “off” means, starting weaning the treat down to occasionally giving the treat when he gets off. Still verbally praise and pet him if he finds that rewarding.
5. Capture and reward the desired behavior when he’s on the floor
If your pup’s doing a behavior you like, you can reward it. Behavior that’s rewarded will repeat itself.
So if you see your dog on the floor near the couch, and he knows what “off” means, praise “good off” and give him a small tidbit of a treat.
You can also reward when he goes to his own bed.
6. Teach your dog to go to his bed
If you consistently teach your dog to go to a place, he won’t be on the couch.
7. Make it unattractive for your dog to be on the couch
You can place upside down laundry bins on the sofa so that he can’t easily jump up on it.
But be aware that some dogs will get creative and move them or lie down between them.
Sometimes putting foil on the sofa cushions will deter a dog from jumping on the couch. Some dogs really hate the sound and feel of the foil, whereas others don’t mind it.
With either the blocking technique or the foil, first do them with you in the room or where you can view the pup on camera so that you know whether it works.
You also want to make sure that the pup doesn’t chew on the basket or foil or ingest them. (This is more likely with younger dogs.)
Another deterrent that may work is called an X-mat. It has a prickly side that’s uncomfortable if a dog jumps on the couch but it shouldn’t harm him. He should jump right off.
8. Confine your dog to an exercise pen or crate when you’re gone
If you’re uncertain whether your pup will stay off the couch when you’re not present, you may want to confine him.
Just make sure that you’ve trained your pup to be in a crate or exercise pen. Don’t just put him in it and leave or he may panic.
9. Block access to windows near the couch
If your dog gets up on the sofa just to see out the window next to it, blocking access to the view outside may help deter him from getting on it.
You can use a window shade, curtains, a self-stick film for the window that blocks outside view, or blinds to block the view.
But remember that if your dog’s already developed a habit of jumping on the couch, even blocking the view may not deter him.
Also, many dogs will just look under or push aside such window coverings.
10. Set up a video camera to determine what your dog does when you’re away
If you’re unsure how effective your methods of keeping your dog off the couch are when you’re away, you can record your pup’s actions and review them.
What Shouldn’t I Do When Teaching My Dog Not To Jump on the Couch?
Of course, you shouldn’t use any harsh methods in training your dog to stay off the couch.
Such methods can not only ruin the bond with your dog, they can also cause some behavioral problems in your dog.
We have a Furbo Dog Camera setup at our house which allows you to not only spy on your dog, but you can also toss him a treat for being a good boy.
1. Don’t use mats or devices that make a loud noise when your dog jumps on the furniture.
This includes mechanical devices and “shake cans” with pennies in a dry, empty soda can closed with duct tape at the top.
Even though they may make your dog get off the furniture, they can also cause unexpected problems.
Your pup may suddenly fear loud noises. He may fear the room or area the couch is in.
He may become aggressive in that area.
It’s just not worth the risk. There are better methods stated above to keep our pups off the couch.
2. Don’t wrestle the dog off the couch
This can break the bond of trust with your dog and can even lead to aggression.
Instead, lure him off with a yummy treat or a toy.
3. Don’t use a scat mat
These are mats placed on the sofa cushions that emit an electrical charge when your dog jumps on the sofa.
Like some other devices, these can lead to unwanted fear and aggression issues.
4. Don’t use spray bottles to make your dog get off the couch
Spraying your dog with water to make your pup get off the couch may sometimes be effective.
But, like other harsh devices, it can lead to unwanted fear and aggression issues.
And some water-loving dogs may even think it fun!
It’s up to you whether or not you let your dog on the furniture. There is no right or wrong answer.
There are various factors such as cleanliness and wear-and-tear on the couch you’ll need to weigh when making your decision.
The important thing is that everyone in the household must be consistent in following that decision or the dog will be confused.
It’s best to set the rule when you first get your pup. But if that ship has already sailed, there are still methods to keep your pup off the couch.
The methods that you use shouldn’t be aversive or you may have some unwanted behavioral consequences.
What about you? Do you allow your dog on the couch?
If not, why and how do you keep you pooch off? Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
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How Do I Stop My Lab From Jumping On My Couch? was last modified: April 7th, 2021 by