How to Teach Your Dog to Stay Off the Furniture

Maya Sleeping on the Chair

I love it when my dogs lay next to me when I am sitting on the couch.  I enjoy the companionship.  But that is the only advantage to allowing my dogs on the furniture.  The biggest disadvantage for me is the dog hair.  Another disadvantage which should be considered is the temperament of the dog.  If you are having behavior issues with your dog, you need to establish leadership.  Not allowing your dog on the furniture is one thing which helps to establish leadership, and establishing leadership helps towards eliminating behavior issues.

Establishing leadership with force can be ineffective with an overly submissive or sensitive dog or a dog inclined towards aggression.  Forceful methods can sometimes even make temperament issues worse.  So in order to teach your dog not to get on the furniture, we are going to provide some milder tips for training.

The first couple of suggestions we have will cost money but they may have the quickest results.  Try a pet scat mat.  A pet scat mat emits a loud sound or a mild electronic pulse in the form of static which is uncomfortable to your dog but not painful or harmful.  The moment your dog gets on the furniture, the sound or static annoys him and he gets off.  The advantage of a pet scat mat is that it can be moved and used in various places.  You can start using the pet scat mat in the place you want your dog to stay away from the most, then when the dog learns to stay off that area you can use it in another area.  The disadvantage is that unless you buy more than one pet scat mat, you can only teach your dog to stay off of one piece of furniture at the time.  The other disadvantage is the price.  The less you pay, the less the range of the pet scat mat sensor.  A small pet scat mat may not emit the sound or static for the entire length of a couch.  And your dog may learn to stay away from the pet scat mat rather than stay off the furniture.

Another suggestion is to spray a deterrent on your furniture.  You can use a pleasant odor which you will enjoy, but your dog probably won’t.  In my experience, a fruity odor does not work as well as a flowery odor.  My dogs also dislike cinnamon and minty odors.  The disadvantage to this method is that if you use too much, you could make yourself uncomfortable as well.  Strong odors could cause a headache or nausea.  And if you use too little, it may not deter your dog.  Another disadvantage is that once the odor wears away, your dog may go back to his old habit of getting on the furniture.

Our final suggestion is positive reinforcement training.  Teach your dog that it is more rewarding to stay off the furniture.  Start by giving your dog their own comfortable bed or beds.  My dogs like to be in the same room as me so I have a dog bed in the rooms where I spend the most time – office, bedroom, living room, and kitchen.  Dog beds can be expensive but you can use old blankets and pillows instead.

Next, make sure you teach your dog the basic commands like sit, stay, and laydown.  Establish these commands as well as rewards and the correction command like “eh-eh” or “no”.  For the purpose of this article, we will use the word “no”.  When your dog gets on the furniture, say “no”.  Then say “off” and gently lead your dog off the furniture.  When your dog gets down, give them the reward word, treat, and praise.  The reward word should be the same word you always use in training such as “good” (or if clicker training, a click).  Then lead your dog to their bed and give the reward word, treat, and praise again.

Training can take a little longer than a pet scat mat or deterrent spray, but it will likely have longer term positive results.  Take the time to train, be patient, use positive reinforcement, and be consistent.  The more you train, the easier it will become for both you and your dog.  And it will also help to establish leadership without using forceful methods.

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