You’ve just bought a brand-new furniture set and you’ve set it up in your living room. Fifteen minutes later your dog comes in from digging in the dirt, jumps on your new couch, and leaves muddy footprints all over your new upholstery.
How frustrating is that?
If you’re struggling to keep your pup off your bed, sofa, lounge chair, or other furniture, you’re not alone! So many dog parents struggle with this problem…after all, most dogs will take the chance to make themselves comfortable on your Lazy Boy if given the opportunity.
If you’re tired of chasing your dog off your furniture, here’s the good news…
It doesn’t matter if you…
Have a new puppy.
Have an old dog.
Don’t want your pup on the furniture at all.
Only want your dog on the furniture when you give permission.
ALL dogs can be trained to stay out of places you’d prefer them not to be. And today I’m going to share my 7-step system for training your pup to stay off the furniture…or at least look to you for when it’s ok to jump up for a cuddle!
Keep reading to find out how…
Step 1: Prevention
The first step you must take as a dog owner is to decide whether you want your dog on the furniture. If you don’t want your dog/puppy on the furniture, you need to make that a solid rule in your household.
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This mainly applies to people bringing a new puppy and/or older rescue into your home. It’s easier to keep a new puppy off the furniture if they are never allowed to be on the couch in the first place.
Make sure everyone in your household understands the rule so there is no confusion in your puppy’s mind, which leads me to step #2…
Step 2: Maintain Consistency
You have to keep a consistent rule about the furniture with your dog.
Perhaps you will allow your dog to be on the couch if he has a blanket underneath him.
Maybe he’s allowed only on the “old” couch. Perhaps there’s a section of the couch you will allow your pup to rest on. Or maybe you don’t want him/her on the couch at all.
There’s no wrong answer here. It’s up to you to decide how you want your dog to utilize the furniture. However, whatever you decide, you MUST keep the rule consistent.
A clear and simple rule is easier than a complex one. For example, no dogs on the couch at all is very simple, and over time your pup will learn the rule.
Step 3: Set Your Dog Up to Win
If you want your dog to succeed with your furniture rules, you’ve got to set him up to win.
Think about this…
If you’re potty training a toddler, you have to be proactive in ensuring that you ask the toddler to try and use the potty, as he might not remember on his own. You’d never leave the house without asking him to try and use the bathroom and then expect him to spend an hour running chores with you and not have an accident.
The same principle applies to dogs.
The idea here is to provide your dog with something that caters to his needs so that he/she doesn’t feel like he/she needs to use the warm, cozy couch.
If you have a dog that is by nature cold (thin fur) and you live in Alaska, your dog is not going to want to lie on a marble floor. Provide your dog with something that caters to their comfort/needs (a dog bed next to the couch.)
Whether it be a designated blanket on the floor, a plush dog bed, or a nicely set up crate, make sure your pup has a warm, comfy space they can go to relax.
Step 4: Ensure Your Dog Knows You Make the House Rules
Many dogs are leaders by nature. This instinct is so strong for some dogs that they believe they are the leader in your home, which means they make the rules.
It’s vital that your dog understands that YOU are the one in charge, otherwise chaos will ensue.
Think about it this way…
You’d never board a commercial airliner and insist that you sit in the cockpit and fly the plane. After all, you’re not the pilot, and that would have a disastrous ending. Knowing that you’re not the captain, you understand that you don’t make the rules…others are in charge of your well-being, and you follow the directions of the airline staff.
When you become the leader in your home, your dog will calm down and listen to your direction. This is the most essential part of my 7-step process…getting your dog to relax and look to you for guidance.
It’s so important, in fact, that I’ve developed an entire program around helping your dog settle down; it’s called the Dog Calming Code.
If you’re struggling to get your pup to look to you for guidance, I strongly encourage you to check out everything this program has to offer.
Step 5: Implement Consistent Training
Repetition is key when teaching a dog to stay off the furniture. And it’s important to remain patient with your pup as they learn a new rule.
If your dog keeps jumping on the furniture, simply move the dog off and redirect them to their bed or blanket on the floor. Don’t say a word.
Repeat 2-3 times. If they keep insisting on jumping up, then move onto step 6 below…
Step 6: Time Out
If your dog continues to jump on the furniture, it’s time for a time-out.
Simply move your dog to the bathroom, laundry room, or other location.
One of the six key courses in the Dog Calming Code is my tools and techniques section In this section you can watch how I carry out various training techniques! To lend you a hand, I’m sharing a video of how I handle time-outs. Check it out!
If you’re really struggling, your dog can stay in time out for up to half an hour. A time-out isn’t mean or harmful to your pup…it’s nothing more than removing freedom.
Step 7: Reinforcement
Once your dog starts to get the hang of staying off the furniture, use positive reinforcement.
Provide your pup a bone to chew on the floor. Give him/her a head pat or a treat when they get it right. And don’t forget…keep your energy low and calm so your pup doesn’t get excited and jump back onto the couch!
Keeping off the couch – repeat steps 5 and 6 …. Give a bone on the floor. Reward with a pat or treat when they get it right. Keep the energy low so they don’t jump back up on the couch.
If you’ve made it through all the steps and are still really struggling to keep your dog off the furniture, remember that the key to success is almost always mastering step #4 which is found in the Dog Calming Code.
Be sure to check out the program if you need some extra help!
Learn more about the Dog Calming Code here!