During an obedience training session in Midtown Memphis with one of an off leash student dog, I had a young lady new to dog ownership, come up to me with an urgent concern, can her dog be allowed to be up on the couch with her?
This young lady excitedly jumped into dog ownership with dreams of having a little buddy always around, one in which she could smother with cuddles on the couch. However, shortly after embarking on her first dog ownership journey she began to read dog training books and she came across a section specifically saying not to let your dog up on the couch with you. Reading that passage nearly broke her heart, on the one hand she wanted to raise a good household dog but on the other hand she wanted company on the couch. She was pretty stressed out over her dilemma and so I figured I would throw in my two cents.
The thought and theory behind not allowing dogs on furniture goes back to the outdated pack mentality in which people believed that if you let your dog up on the furniture, then your dog would see itself higher up in the hierarchy. This theory has been debunked years ago but still gets slipped into books and some dog trainers advice occasionally. I’ll save a more in depth discussion on the topic of pack mentality for a later date. For now, back to the couch!
I am believer that your dogs can be let up on the furniture and still remain obedient and well behaved. Now this doesn’t mean I’m an advocate of a doggie free for all, there has to be clear cut rules. Where most people get in trouble with their dogs on the subject is not defining the rules for the dogs, which would then inevitably turn into a little chaos and frustration. Dogs don’t see in between the lines, they need things in black and white.
For instance, some people will allow their dogs up on the couch whenever they are home and then get mad at the pups when they jump on the laps of the guests. Your dog will not understand the difference in the situations and you will get frustrated and have a confused dog and upset guest on your hands.
So how do you pull off having your pup on the couch with you? Define the rules! Before your dog is allowed on the couch, teach him/her to sit and wait for an invitation from you. The invitation could be as simple as patting the couch, but make sure it is clear! In order to reinforce the rules, when your dog jumps on the couch without an invitation, make him/her get off right way. Once off the couch, have him/her sit for a few moments and then give your signal and let your pup jump on up. Eventually, your dog will realize that the only way up on the couch is through you.
Remember to be consistent and clearly define the rules and you will be well on the way to having your four legged friend next to you on the couch!
For more information on having a well behaved dog please contact a trainer at Dog Obedience College by filling out the Contact Form, emailing info@DogObedienceCollege.com, or by calling 901-310-5826.