When your dog was a puppy you may have welcomed him on the couch with you. However, now that he's an adult dog you may find his behavior unacceptable. You can train your dog to stay off the furniture even though he's used to being on it — it just takes consistency and patience. If you decide that you don't want your dog on the furniture use the tips in the following article to train him to understand the "off" command.
Is it okay to let my dog on the furniture?
Some dog-owners are very comfortable having their dog on the furniture. However, there are a few things to consider. First, if you let your dog on the furniture when he's clean he will be on the furniture when he's dirty too. Second, if you bring your dog to someone else's home he will expect that the rules are the same and it's okay to be on their furniture. Third, some dogs are more aggressive if they are allowed on the furniture, and therefore on the same level as you, their pack leader. Make your decision about whether to allow your dog on the furniture, and then stick to it.
Why does he want to sit on the furniture anyway?
Your dog may not be misbehaving when he jumps up on the couch; he may not know that you don't want him on the furniture, especially if he was welcomed on the furniture when he was a puppy. If you've invited him to snuggle up on the couch with you even once, then he may take that to mean he's welcome on the furniture all the time.
Your dog may like to be on the furniture for many reasons. First, he may want to be as close to you as possible. And if you're sitting on the couch, then the closest spot is up there beside you. If you're not on the couch he may want to be there anyway, because he's lonely and the couch smells like you. It may also give him a view of the room that he doesn't get from the floor. If the couch is located near a window it may be even more appealing, as it may give your dog a look outside.
First, stick to your decision at all times. Consistency is key. Let your dog know what is allowed, in a clear and gentle manner. Everyone in the family needs to know the rules, and help your dog to remember them. If one member of your family allows your dog to cuddle up beside them on the couch while the rest of the family is trying to teach the dog to stay off the furniture then the training won't work. Your dog must be clear about what the rules are.
The "off" command
The "off" command tells your dog that you want his paws on the floor, not on the furniture. Some people use the command "down" for this, while others differentiate between the commands "down" and "off", using "off" for when their dog jumps up on furniture, or people, and "down" for when they want their dog to lie down on the floor. Whichever you choose, your dog will only understand if you are consistent.
To get your dog off a piece of furniture take him gently but firmly by his collar and say "off" while helping him down from the furniture. Release his collar once he is on the floor and give him praise and a treat. Do this consistently to encourage the behavior you want, and eventually you will not have to physically lead your dog down from the furniture — giving the command in a firm voice will be enough. You may want to provide your dog with his own bed so he can get comfortable on the floor and will be less likely to climb up on the furniture. The bed should be kept in a central area of the house, where your dog is not lonely and can interact with the family.
Don't give up. If your dog was used to being on the furniture as a puppy it may be especially difficult to help him understand that the rules have changed now that he is bigger. However, if you are clear, consistent and patient, and you reward his good behavior, eventually your dog will understand what behavior you expect from him.
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