How To Keep My Dog Off The Sofa

By helloBARK!
Updated on 3 October 2022
Expert Content

Are you constantly battling with your dog to keep them off the sofa?

Some dog owners permit their canine companions to relax on the furniture but some pet parents prefer to keep their sofas dog-hair free.

If you’ve got a high-shedding dog, it can be a hassle trying to vacuum dog hair and getting into crevices in your sofa to remove dog fluff.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at how to keep your dog off the sofa.

We’ve spoken to four dog trainers with lots of experience to hear their best tips on how to train your dog to stay off the sofa.

Use A Leash Indoors

Travis Brorsen, Award-Winning Dog Trainer And Animal Planets Pet Expert

Set rules and boundaries early by never allowing them on the couch… this goes for all furniture. If you want to be with them, then sit on the floor with them. When “dog time” is over, put them in their crate or sleeping space and never leave them unattended around furniture. It will confuse them if they can be on it when your away, but not when you are home.

Use a leash indoors to prevent them from getting on the couch while teaching cues like sit, lay down and coming when called. All of these cues can prevent couch surfing. If you are consistent, you can create a habit of them resting on the floor and being on the furniture never becomes part of their routine.

Give them an activity to focus. For instance, a kong stuffed with their favorite treats, a chew bone, or a treat dispenser that can occupy their time.
Above all, exercise can prevent all unwanted behavior. 60% of household dogs are overweight or obese. Tired dogs don’t have the energy to jump on furniture and neither to dogs that have a family that is consistent.

Be patient and you will get the results!

Jack Russell Terrier (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Jack Russell Terrier (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Use Of Behavior Management Tools

Alexandra Bassett, CPDT-KA, Lead Trainer And Behavior Specialist

Couches are comfy, so it’s only natural that your dog will want to hang out or rest on one, but it’s better not to allow your dog access to the furniture if you don’t want them to develop a liking for getting on.

The process for training a dog not to get on the furniture therefore would involve a variety of factors:

• The use of behavior management tools like pens, gates, and crates to prevent a dog from accessing the furniture when no one is around to supervise them. This means confining a dog when no one’s home, too, so they can’t choose to get on the furniture when no one is around to stop them from doing so.

• Keeping a dog on a drag leash indoors when they are roaming free in the house in order to stop them from getting on the furniture every single time they try. Pet parents need to interrupt and stop unwanted behavior every single time it happens in order for a dog to understand not to do something and to prevent the dog from continuing to get reinforcement for doing something undesirable. Reinforcement = any pleasant outcome. If a dog can successfully get up on the couch and hang out there long enough to develop a liking for it, this will work against someone’s efforts to train them not to do it.

• Pet parents should apply a timeout for repeat offenses by revoking a dog’s roaming free privileges if they are persistent about jumping on the sofa. This creates an unpleasant association with getting on the furniture and teaches a dog to avoid the behavior.

Training a dog what to do instead: It would be essential to train a dog to choose to lie in their own bed when spending time in common areas rather than get on the sofa. This can be done by building value for a dog choosing to go to their own bed through regular spot/place training whenever they are hanging out in the living room or common areas.

Pug (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Pug (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Provide An Alternative

Jeff Netzley, Dog Trainer And Creator of Dog Training Near You

Though it is generally considered that dogs should not be allowed on furniture, many dog owners find this difficult to enforce. Dogs are often seen as part of the family and it can be hard to say no when they beg for a spot on the couch, or aggressively force their way onto the couch. However, there are some simple things dog owners can do to keep their dogs off the furniture and help them learn good behavior.

• Provide an alternative – For starters, your dog wants to lay on the sofa because it’s comfortable. So provide a nice alternative for them to lay on, like a dog bed or a comfortable blanket on the floor. If they have a comfortable place to lay that they know is acceptable, they’ll be less likely to try and sneak onto the sofa. Place the dog bed directly next to the sofa, preferably on the side where you most frequently sit. This will help your dog associate the bed with being close to you and will make it more appealing. Many dogs prefer a crate instead of a dog bed. If your dog is crate trained, put their crate next to the sofa. This way they can still be close to you but will know that they are not allowed on the furniture. If your dog enjoys snuggling up with you on the couch, try and provide that same level of closeness with their dog bed. You can do this by placing an old shirt on their bed that smells like you, or letting them lay on your lap for a few minutes before you move to the couch. This will help them understand that they can still be close to you without being on the furniture.

• Use positive reinforcement – Rewarding your dog whenever they do what you want will help reinforce the behavior, and make it more likely that they’ll continue doing it. It is far more effective than negative reinforcement, where you scold your dog for getting on the furniture, and it avoids potential negative behavioral issues in the future. Whenever your dog lays on their bed or blanket, make sure to give them lots of praise and attention. Every time they go to their bed say something along the lines of Good dog! You’re such a good dog for staying on your bed! and give them plenty of pets and love. This will reinforce the behavior you want to see and they’ll be more likely to do it again in the future. Treats can also be a great way to reinforce good behavior. Every time your dog gets off the couch and goes to their bed, give them a treat. They’ll quickly learn that laying on their bed is a good thing because they get rewards for it. You can also provide a high-reward item like a chew toy or bone that they can only have when they’re on their bed. This will make their bed even more appealing and they’ll be less likely to want to lay on the couch.

• Remove temptation – If your dog is constantly trying to sneak onto the couch, it may be helpful to remove the temptation entirely. Try using a baby gate or x-pen to block off access to the couch entirely, or place laundry baskets on top of the couch cushions. You can also try using a spray deterrent like Bitter Yuck! No Chew Spray on the couch itself. Just make sure to spray it on a blanket or towel and then place it on top of the couch. This will make the couch unpleasant to lay on and your dog will be less likely to try and sneak onto it.

• Give them a command – Once your dog is used to having their own bed or blanket, you can start working on a command to tell them to go to their bed. You can use go bed, bedtime, or whatever you want – just be consistent with what you say. Follow up the command with tossing a treat on their bed. Once they are on their bed give them the down command to get them to lie down, and follow that up with a treat. Over time your dog will associate the bed command with a reward, and will enjoy going to their bed. Whenever your dog is about to get on the couch, give them the command and then guide them over to their bed with a treat. Once they’re laying on their bed, give them the treat and lots of praise.

• Be consistent – Whatever rules you impose on your dog, it’s important to be consistent with them. If you sometimes allow your dog on the couch and other times tell them to get down, they’re going to get confused and won’t know what the rules are. It’s important to be firm and consistent with your commands and unwavering with your rules so that your dog knows what is expected of them. If you still struggle with getting your dog to stay off the couch, it may be helpful to consult a professional trainer. Every dog is unique with a different background, and they may require a different approach in order to learn the desired behavior. A trainer can help you come up with a customized training plan for your dog, and can give you additional tips and tricks for getting them to stay off the couch.

Black Labrador (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Black Labrador (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Remember To Use Positive Reinforcement

Jen Jones, Professional Dog Trainer, Behavior Specialist And Founder Of Your Dog Advisor

The best way to keep your dog off the sofa is to train them. You can use a variety of methods, such as using a spray bottle, putting up a barrier, or using a specific command.

Periodically, remind your dog of the consequences for getting on the lounge. If your dog is on the sofa and you have no other means of getting them away, you can use a spray bottle.

Just be sure to not make this tactic the only one that you rely on: make sure to put in some effort into training with other methods as well. You should never spray your dog with mace, pepper spray, or other toxic substances.

If you are ever in doubt of the safety of any product you are using on your dog, don’t use it! Remember to use positive reinforcement, instead of punishment.

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