How to Train Your Dog to Jump on the Couch

Medium
2-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

While many people prefer their dogs to stay off the furniture, there are a few good reasons for training your dog to jump on the couch, bed, or a grooming box. These include making it easier to keep him groomed or simply because you would like to snuggle with him. Allowing your dog to jump up on the couch or bed with you can be a great way to bond with your dog, but at the same time, you only want him to do this when he is told to.

Once the training is completed, you should be able to get your dog to jump on the couch, the bed, into your vehicle, onto a grooming box and just about anywhere or anything it is safe for him to jump on. Imagine how nice it would be if you could drop the tailgate of your truck, give the 'jump on' command, and watch your dog jump up into the bed without any fuss or bother, let alone needing your assistance to do so.

Defining Tasks

While this is a relatively simple command for your pup, it will take a few weeks for him to master the command to the point where not only will he be able to jump on the couch, but anywhere else. You can use any command you want, like 'jump on', 'get up', or simply 'on', but whichever you choose, be sure to stick with a single command to ensure your pup doesn’t get confused. It also helps if only one person is trying to train him, as too many people trying to teach him will also become confusing.

You should check with your vet to make sure your pup has reached the stage of maturity where jumping on and off of the furniture is not going to cause him any injury. Young pups' bones, muscles, and ligaments have not fully formed and jumping can lead to serious injury that he may not be able to recover from. 

Getting Started

Teaching your dog to jump on the couch really doesn't take much in the way of supplies. You will need a couch (of course), a bag of your pup's favorite treats, a quiet place to work, and plenty of patience. This is one trick you can work on any time there is a little peace and quiet in the house and no one is sitting on the couch. What strikes most dog owners is that while their dog might jump on the couch when they think you are not watching, actually getting your pup to jump on the couch when you want him to can prove to be a little challenging. 

The Start Lower Method

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Step
1
Ground level
Start with a lower item such as a footstool or, better yet, a grooming box.
Step
2
Put your dog on a leash
Attach your dog to his leash, walk your dog up to the grooming box.
Step
3
Tap the box
Tap the box and tell your pup to "jump on", or your choice of command, and use a treat to lure him up on the box.
Step
4
Reward him
Use the leash to help guide him up on the box. When he steps up, give him praise and a treat.
Step
5
Let him remain in place
Let your pup stay on the box for a few minutes before giving him the "jump off" command and making him get down. Treats when he does.
Step
6
From different angles
Try this again approaching the box from various angles using the same command each time. When he hops up on the box, be sure to praise him and give him a treat.
Step
7
Move on to the couch
Time to move on to the ultimate goal, the couch. Using the same method work with your pup until he is used to jumping on the couch whenever you invite him. Just be sure you also teach him the 'jump off' command at the same time or you may never get him to come down from his comfortable perch.
Recommend training method?

The Using a Treat Method

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Step
1
Grab treats
Grab a handful of your pup's favorite treats.
Step
2
Call your pup
Call your pup over to the couch while you are sitting on it.
Step
3
Lay the treats
Lay one or two treats on a cushion and encourage your pup to jump on the couch to retrieve them.
Step
4
Reward time
When he finally jumps up on the couch, be sure to praise him for being a good boy and give him the treats.
Step
5
Rinse and repeat
Keep doing this until your pup will jump up on the couch every time you invite him to do so. Remember, it is going to take a lot of time, patience, and a more than ample supply of treats for him to master this fun skill.
Recommend training method?

The Hand Signal Method

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Step
1
In front of the couch
Have your pup sit on the floor just a few inches from the couch.
Step
2
Take a seat
Have a seat on the couch and get comfortable.
Step
3
Hand signal time
Pat the cushion of the couch with your hand and use your 'jump on' command at the same time. This might take a while as your pup needs to associate the hand signal and the command with the action you expect him to do.
Step
4
Treat time
Once your dog follows your directions, be sure to praise him heavily and reward him with treats.
Step
5
Get down
Now you need to reverse this process by patting the floor with your hand and telling him to get down. When he does this, be sure to tell him he's a good boy and give him treats.
Step
6
Keep at it
You can repeat this process multiple times during a training session. It shouldn't take long for him to get the idea and be ready to jump on the couch whenever you tell him to. The good news is you can use this same training to get him to jump up on the bed and snuggle with you. This is a great bonding experience for both of you.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Moose
Great Dane
1 Year
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Question
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Moose
Great Dane
1 Year

Moose will not jump. He’s tall enough to step onto most things, including the couch. But when it comes to the bed, or my truck (the biggest concern), he lifts his front paws up and then cannot get his back legs up. He won’t jump. What can we do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Victoria, First, I would check with your vet. Anatomical issues, like hip and join issues or pain can be the reason for a dog not jumping, especially a large breed like a Dane. I would check first with your vet to make sure pup can safely jump since they are hesitant to. I am not a vet. If the issue really is just a lack of confidence, set up an agility type jumping bar. Have the poles (or whatever will be holding the bar, set up on either side but instead of putting the bar in the middle, lay it on the floor between the poles. Encourage pup across it and reward. Practice this until pup happily goes through the bars. Very incrementally raise the jar, starting with it being just a couple of inches above the ground. Reward pup for stepping over it. As pup improves, raise the bar by just a couple of inches at a time. Only increasing the height when pup goes over it with ease. Eventually the bar should be raised high enough that pup has to jump over it to earn the reward. Place something like chairs on either side of the poles if pup tends to try to just go around instead of over it - so that pup only gets the reward if they go over and through the poles, not around. Keep this game fun and go at pup's own speed - going slow can also help pup gradually build up the muscles needed to jump safely - like exercise training would. Give pup a command like Up or Over each time you practice, so that you can use that command later for the car and other places. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ellie
Labradoodle
10 Months
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Question
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Ellie
Labradoodle
10 Months

When will she start jumping up on things?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tayra, Pup is old enough that's not likely the reason why they are not jumping up on something like the couch anymore - they will have the majority of their height most likely by now, and be adding mostly muscle, with joints and bones changing for a bit longer. I am not a vet though. Pup likely lacks the confidence to, believes it's not acceptable, or simply doesn't realize they can, unless there is an anatomical issue preventing them, like a hip or joint issue - I am not a vet, consult your vet if that's suspected. Because joints and bones are still changing for a bit longer, I wouldn't encourage any intense jumping like high agility jumps, but pup can likely navigate smaller things with some confidence building and realizing that you find it acceptable. You can start by working on jumping in general, creating something like an agility jump but laying the pole on the ground and rewarding pup for walking over it, through the jump poles. As pup improves, raise the height of the pole by 1-2 inches at a time - only increasing the height when pup has fully masted and feels confident at the current height. Give pup a command like Up or Jump when they go over it. Once they can jump over the pole high enough to be able to make the jump to the couch, then place the jump against the couch and encourage them to jump over it, onto the couch, and praise and reward heavily when they do. You can also place something like bed stairs at the base of the couch and reward pup for going up and down those, then remove them and just use a small step up like a thick book, then remove the book too, so pup is jumping onto the couch. If you find pup still can't do these things, I suggest consulting your vet to rule out something physical. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ruby
Mini Aussie
9 Months
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Question
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Ruby
Mini Aussie
9 Months

Quick question if that's alright. I just adopted a 9 month old mini Aussie and she's been having trouble getting up onto some things. My question is wether she should be able to jump by this age, or is she still developing? I guess I was wondering if there's possibly any thing wrong with her, or if she's still developing. Thanks so much

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Karla, That depends mostly on her size. At this age she should have most of her height. Her bone structure may change some as growth plates close, and most dogs continue to develop muscle for another few months or year plus. I am not a vet so I suggest asking your vet this question, with details about her size. If she is tall enough, my experience is that she should be able to jump by now, but she may lack the coordination or confidence to do so - opposed to being physically unable to. I wouldn't practice anything too strenuous before growth plates close but you can work on building her confidence by creating low obtacles, like a plank of wood on the ground, and teaching her to go over that using treats to lure her over it and reward for success. As her confidence develops, slowly raise the height of the obstacle by just a couple of inches at a time. Practicing some jumping and obstacle manuevering in general gradually, can help build coordination and confidence if that is the issue. If she is small, her physical size might be a limiting factor. Outside of that I would consult your vet for anything physical. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Sid
Shit po
12 Weeks
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Question
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Sid
Shit po
12 Weeks

I would like him to give me his paw and to stay when asked

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mya, Check out the article and video I have linked below. Paw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRoDTUkzVpU Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ https://wagwalking.com/training/stay-1 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Scotch
Dashalier
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Scotch
Dashalier
8 Months

Scotch will just eat a treat and hop off right after. What should I do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Abby, Assuming you are wanting pup to stay on the couch with you for something like snuggling once they are up there, I recommend teaching an automatic stay on the couch. Once pup jumps onto the couch, reward pup with a tiny treat or piece of kibble again every second that they stay there. At first, you will be giving working up to about 10 seconds, with a treat every second. Once pup sees how this game works and starts to expect treats if he stays, they give treats only every three seconds, then every 4, then every 10, then every minute, ect...until you can give pup a treat every 10 minutes and he will stay with just that one treat for that long. At that point begin working up to pup staying there for an hour, with rewards every 10 minutes. When pup can stay for that long start spacing treats further out again, to every 15, 20, 30, 40, 60 minutes, until pup no longer needs a treat at all to want to come onto the couch and stay there. Additionally, reward with an extra treat whenever pup sits or especially lies down on the couch, since I am guessing having pup lie on the couch with you is your end goal. If the instructions aren't clear, I recommend looking up youtube videos on teaching lure-reward training Down-Stay, since giving treats close together, then gradually spacing the treats apart as pup improves is generally how that type of stay is also taught, so there are a lot of visual video examples of how it's done online also. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Maci
Lhasa Apso
9 Months
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Question
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Maci
Lhasa Apso
9 Months

Maci runs like a cougar and jumps down as if she is flying. She hasn’t been able to jump up on anything. She stands up on her hind legs but doesn’t seem to get the whole jumping up. She’s around another dog that jumps up all the time to escape her but she never tries to jump up after her. I’m not conferenced about injury or pain because they race and wrestle all the time. What’s up with this? Thank you

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lori, Like any athletic skill, jumping often has to be practiced. If pup isn't naturally interested in practicing jumping at other times in life, she may lack the muscle/coordination/and confidence to jump onto the couch. You can help her gain these things by teaching her to jump, starting with much lower heights first. If she physically cannot jump past a certain height while practicing jumping, starting at lower heights first, that will also help you know that she has that limitation, opposed to her simply not having the knowledge/skill that could be developed. Start by creating a very low jump for pup, like an agility jump with a pole in the middle. You can even use a straight stick without branches for this. Place it on the ground and encourage pup to walk over it. Reward when she does and give a command like "Up!" as she does so. When pup is happy to go over the "jump", lift it a couple inches off the ground and encourage pup to step or slightly jump over it, while saying Up!. Reward pup each time she does until she can do it easily and happily. Practice each step until pup is confidently able to do it each time. As pup masters the current low height, slowly raise the jump up another inch, only adding one more inch at a time. Practice until pup can jump about at least as high as she is tall. At that point, hold the jump in front of the couch and have pup jump over it onto the couch. Give pup a treat when she does. Once pup can get up easily, encourage pup down onto the floor also and give the command "Off" then. Give pup a treat when she does. Be careful when practicing jumping, especially at heights taller than pup, before pup is over a year old because their bones have not finished developing and growth plates closing yet. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Minnie
Miniature doberman Pinscher
12 Years
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Question
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Minnie
Miniature doberman Pinscher
12 Years

My dog is scared of hights, she is 11 inches tall and long and the couch is 1 foot and 5 inches tall, she always starts barking and coughing (on purpose) so she can get help, so I try to help her but she just won't do it without a treat. What should I do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
836 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marli, First, I would teach a Quiet command so that communication with pup is easier, for the barking behavior. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, because of pup's age, jumping up and down from the couch may be causing pain each time, which is why she is unwilling even though she may be able to physically do it. Without the treat, pup is not motivated enough to feel the pain involved. Instead of encouraging something that may simply be too hard for her at this age, I would purchase bed stairs and put it near one end of the couch, then teach her to go up and down those on her own. How to train bed stairs: https://wagwalking.com/training/use-bed-stairs Examples of bedstairs: https://www.chewy.com/paws-pals-4-step-dog-cat-stairs/dp/217586?utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=hg&utm_content=Paws%20%26%20Pals&utm_term=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwyZmEBhCpARIsALIzmnLTNurmCREErHO-Es920vZHfZjP91Zrhw1v_-8y3hV9UXIDNRXa4_gaAu8FEALw_wcB https://www.chewy.com/pet-gear-easy-step-cat-dog-stairs/dp/125551?utm_source=google-product&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=hg&utm_content=Pet%20Gear&utm_term=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwyZmEBhCpARIsALIzmnLc8PHarc4JMUqApobJC_Ic9ChmZOusdKIO73lYkp7KPFe1a0Db8CEaAuxUEALw_wcB https://www.wayfair.com/Archie-and-Oscar%E2%84%A2--Cheryl-3-Step-Pet-Stair-BPTD2425-L1177-K~AOSC1314.html?refid=FR49-AOSC1314 https://doggoramps.com/blogs/dogs/introducing-couch-ramp-for-dogs Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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