You come into your family room, only to find your dog happily snoozing in your spot on your couch! Now, for some folks this is not a problem–for others it is. When it comes to the touchy subject of dogs on the furniture, my vote is to YES, have dogs on the furniture. Yup, you heard that right, on the furniture. I would however, present the following clarifications:
- There should be rules. Dogs should earn the privilege of getting on your furniture by at least, doing a sit. This should be followed by a command to get them on the sofa, like the command Up. After your dog performs a sit, simply pat the couch and say Up. So his getting on your couch is on YOUR terms, not his.
- You should teach your dog a relocation cue (another place to go other than the sofa) and train this command frequently. Examples would be, go to your bed, or once off the couch just place your dog in a down by your feet in front of the couch. This teaches him that you can let him up, BUT, you can also tell him to get off and go somewhere else. If your dog has a tendency or potential to guard the sofa, doing this exercise frequently would help to minimize any resource guarding that could develop.
- Dogs with strong leader type personalities or temperaments would have a greater tendency to resource guard space. The stronger this tendency, the more I would tend to limit time (IF ANY AT ALL) on the furniture.
You can circumvent a lot of these issues by deciding early on if you want your dog on the furniture or not and begin training the behavior as a puppy. If you decide somewhere along the line to change the rules, be patient, your dog can’t read your mind. You will have to patiently and consistently train him to stay off the couch. Also, if your dog came to you from another family, they might have allowed him to be on the furniture. You will have to teach him new commands to stay off the furniture. Again, yelling and punishment doesn’t get you much, so be patient and consistent and remember set your dog up to succeed so you are able to accentuate the positive and downplay the negative.