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How to Train Your Dog to Stay Off the Couch Unless Invited

How to Train Your Dog to Stay Off the Couch Unless Invited
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon3-9 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Dogs come into our homes as fun, furry, sweet, and cute family pets and they see where we hang out the most, on the couch. They believe, as part of our family, they should just hang out on the couch as well. Many dog owners do not want their dogs on the couch at all unless they invite their dog. So, you may not want to come home from work or walk into your house and see your dog lounging on the couch. However, you may want to chill out for an evening movie with your dog in your lap or laying near you on the couch. Your dog will not always know your rules and why they differ for different times, but you can teach him to stay off of the couch unless you invite him up there.

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Defining Tasks

Training your dog to stay off of the couch unless he is invited is something your dog will understand over time. Be consistent with your training, so he understands he is allowed on the couch if you tell him he is allowed on the couch, but otherwise, the standing rule is that he is not allowed on the couch. This will probably be the toughest thing for your dog to understand because from your dog's perspective, sometimes there's a rule of no couch and sometimes there's a rule of ‘okay you can go on the couch.’ Also, be consistent with your rules, so he understands when you are on the couch and you invite him, he might be allowed as well. However, if you are not on the couch, he is never allowed either. This will take lots of repetition and patience from you both.

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Getting Started

To train your dog to stay off the couch unless invited, you will need some tasty treats for rewarding good behavior. You will also need to catch him in the act and be ready to redirect. Also be sure to have some scheduled couch time with your dog if you are going to allow him to join you on the couch.

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The Command for Off Method

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Off couch

When you catch your dog on the couch without an invitation from you, say the command phrase, 'off the couch.'

2

Reward

If he doesn't budge, show him a treat to entice him. If he's small enough, you can also gently pick him up for relocation. If he jumps down on your command, give him a treat once he's settled somewhere else, such as his bed.

3

Invite

Invite your dog to join you on the couch and when it's time to leave, use the same command for 'off the couch'. Once he's down, reward him. Do not wait until he's repositioned and settles elsewhere.

4

Inaccessible

While you are away from your dog and couch, you can crate your dog or pile blankets or other items on the couch to deter your dog from jumping up while unattended.

5

Be proactive

When you see your dog in a place you would like him to be, such as the floor, give him a treat for good behavior. When he's on the couch and not invited, use the off command. Only reward when he's made the right choice the first time.

The Click and Treat Method

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Paws on the ground

When your dog is on the couch, have him get down. As soon as paws hit the ground, click and treat.

2

Invite

Invite your dog to join you when you are ready to share the couch with him. When he comes up to the couch, click and treat. He doesn't have to join you, but you are rewarding him if he does.

3

Get down

Ask your dog to get down off the couch. You can help him if he's uncertain of your command. Once he's down, click and treat.

4

Positivity

Each time your dog behaves in a positive manner, click and treat.

5

Repeat and practice

If he's on the floor when not invited to the couch, click and treat. If he joins you by invitation, click and treat. If he gets down by command, click and treat. Reward his positive behaviors and practice each position so he knows he will be asked to come to the couch and rewarded for listening and obeying.

The Caught in the Act Method

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Look for misbehavior

When you catch your dog on the couch, have him get down and redirect him to a different spot like the floor or a special bed meant just for him.

2

Reinforcement

When you are around the house and not on the couch with your dog, reward him during moments of good choice for not jumping on the couch. Catch him behaving well and give him a treat.

3

Couch time

When it is time to invite your dog to the couch with you, talk it up with him. Tell him it's okay and invite him to jump up or pick him up to sit with you.

4

Love and attention

While your dog is on the couch with you, offer love and affection, but do not give him a treat as a reward. His prize is being on the couch with you.

5

Get down

Have your dog get off the couch. Once he's down, give him a treat.

6

Repeat

Follow the above steps several times throughout your days for a few weeks. The goal is to get your dog to remember he can visit the couch upon invitation but not otherwise. This is projected with treats for good choices and affection during times on the couch with you by permission.

7

Redirect

If you catch your dog on the couch again without an invitation, take him off the couch and offer him a suitable place to be. Do not scold him. Just don't give him a treat once he's back on the floor.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 10/18/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Spuds

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Rat Terrier

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5 Years

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Question

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Hello, we have 2 dogs, Watkins (6 yr old Brittany Spaniel who is the sweetest) and Spuds (you have info) is also sweet(ish)lol. We would like to start taking our boys to our local dog park, Watkins has no problem with other dogs, but Spuds is a little unpredictable...I say that because when walking him he barks and lounges at other dogs. My partner have recently taken him once to the dog park and said he was ok and had a good time...I just dont trust his unappreciable behavior...I really hate to have him hurt or be hurt by another dog :( My question is, is he displaying this behavior only when he's leashed when walking him, and not when he's free to roam with other dogs? I would love to take him and Watkins daily to the dog park, but I'm a bit uneasy has to what can happen...is it a good idea to just take him again and hope for the best, or is there a safer way to go about this? Thank you for any advice, and thank you for your time. Best Regards, Darryl

March 2, 2022

Spuds's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Darryl, The lunging on leash can either be due to leash reactivity - which tends to just happen on leash and pup be fine when actually meeting another dog up close or off-leash, or it can be one of several different types of aggression. I would need more information about how pup does with other dogs in various situations or to observe pup in person to be able to tell you for sure which it is. For a dog with any question in this area, I would start socialization in environments that are more structured first. Even having a play date in a private fence with just one other social dog tends to be a better way to ease into socialization than the dog park because of how highly arousing a dog park is, and the likelihood of another dog starting a fight and your dog jumping in, even if your dog wasn't the one to start it. If you can find a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area, that's how I would usually address pup's socialization and reactivity or aggression first. Once pup has gone through that class, then dog walking or hiking groups, local obedience classes where pup can be around other dogs, practicing pup's obedience with other dogs in the background, somewhere like a regular park, or outside the dog park but not in the fenced area with the other dogs, helping pup just learn to get desensitized to seeing the other dogs through the fence and be calm around them first. If pup is doing really well, then I would have a playdate with a friend and their dog or couple of dogs, who you know have good doggie social skills, for your dog to learn and practice without as much arousal. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 3, 2022

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Charlie

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Goldendoodle

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11 Weeks

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How do I stop my puppy from bitting my husbands feet?

Feb. 11, 2022

Charlie's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello, Check out the article linked below. Starting today, use the "Bite Inhibition" method. BUT at the same time, begin teaching "Leave It" from the "Leave It" method. As soon as pup is good as the Leave It game, start telling pup to "Leave It" when he attempts to bite or is tempted to bite. Reward pup if he makes a good choice. If he disobeys your leave it command, use the Pressure method to gently discipline pup for biting when you told him not to. The order or all of this is very important - the Bite Inhibition method can be used for the next couple of weeks while pup is learning leave it, but leave it will teach pup to stop the biting entirely. The pressure method teaches pup that you mean what you say without being overly harsh - but because you have taught pup to leave it first, pup clearly understands that you are not just roughhousing (which is what pup probably thinks most of the time right now), so it is more effective. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I would also work on teaching the Out command, and then use the section from the article on How to Use Out to Deal with Pushiness, to enforce it when pup doesn't listen, especially around other animals or kids. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Another important part of this is puppy learning bite inhibition. Puppies have to learn while young how to control the pressure of their mouths - this is typically done through play with other puppies. See if there is a puppy class in your area that comes well recommended and has time for moderated off-leash puppy play. If you can't join a class, look for a free puppy play group, or recruit some friends with puppies to come over if you can and create your own group. You are looking for puppies under 6 months of age - since young puppies play differently than adult dogs. Moderate the puppies' play and whenever one pup seems overwhelmed or they are all getting too excited, interrupt their play, let everyone calm down, then let the most timid pup go first to see if they still want to play - if they do, then you can let the other puppies go too when they are waiting for permission. Finding a good puppy class - no class will be ideal but here's what to shoot for: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ When pup gets especially wound up, he probably needs a nap too. At this age puppies will sometimes get really hyper when they are overtired or haven't had any mental stimulation through something like training. When you spot that and think pup could be tired, place pup in their crate or an exercise pen with a food stuffed Kong for a bit to help him calm down and rest. Finally, check out the PDF e-book downloads found on this website, written by one of the founders of the association of professional dog trainers, and a pioneer in starting puppy kindergarten classes in the USA. Click on the pictures of the puppies to download the PDF books: https://www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads/ Know that mouthiness at this age is completely normal. It's not fun but it is normal for it to take some time for a puppy to learn self-control well enough to stop. Try not to get discouraged if you don't see instant progress, any progress and moving in the right direction in this area is good, so keep working at it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 11, 2022


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