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

Medium
3-9 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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.

The Caught in the Act Method

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Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
5
Get down
Have your dog get off the couch. Once he's down, give him a treat.
Step
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.
Step
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.
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The Command for Off Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Off couch
When you catch your dog on the couch without an invitation from you, say the command phrase, 'off the couch.'
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?

The Click and Treat Method

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Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
4
Positivity
Each time your dog behaves in a positive manner, click and treat.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

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

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Pandora
Rottweiler
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Pandora
Rottweiler
10 Months

Recently, Pandora has been having issues walking up the stairs to my apartment nicely. Normally, she would go up a flight of stairs or up several steps and then wait for me to catch up, but now she races up the steps and waits for me to get to closer so she can jump up on me and put my arm/foot/leg in her mouth. When I tell her “no” she growls and gets a little aggressive. She does all of this while on a leash and still does it if I shorten the leash and make her walk beside me on the stairs.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Breonne, First, I would want to determine if pup was growling and biting in rough play, or if pup was truly challenging you and there is aggression present. If aggression, I would hire a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression, to help in person, because the stairs incident is probably a symptom of a greater issue that needs to be addressed through building pup's respect for you gently, addressing things like pushiness and smaller signs of aggression or a lack of respect daily, heel work on leash, and teaching pup to wait behind you at the stairs. If pup is simply excited and thinks this is a game, I would work on stairs manners, treating the stairs like a threshold pup isn't allowed to pass until given permission. Check out the video I have linked below on thresholds. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M I would also practice a structured heel in an open area, where pup learns to stay behind your leg. Check out the Turns method: Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I suspect there may be some aggression going on in general though, and I would consider hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues to help in person, taking safety measures like introducing a basket muzzle ahead of time using food rewards to pup, so the muzzle can be used on stairs practice to keep you safe and to help pup learn that using their mouth isn't an option. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Mugzy
Chonzer/Schnoodle. He is Bichon/poodle & schnauzer
9 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mugzy
Chonzer/Schnoodle. He is Bichon/poodle & schnauzer
9 Years

I need help with his growling and barking. I feel like when I say that's enough, he should stop. but he absolutely will not stop. I've tried evertyhing and after 9 almost 10 years together, you'd think he would get it and give in but he won't stop for anything. Whatever he was growling at could be long gone and he will just stare at me all curled up and shaking... Still growling! I've been kicked out of more places because nobody likes a growling and or barking dog in their house doing that to them. I really need help! Thanks so much!

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I would ask a behaviorist for help. After 9 years, this will not change overnight but good for you for wanting to help Mugzy. It sounds as though there may be some anxiety there; I get the impression because you say he curls up and shakes. Have you asked your vet about it? The vet may be able to suggest something to help Mugzy with the anxiety. How is he when out on walks? Is he relaxed around other dogs and people? Giving Mugzy tons of exercise every day and a chance to tire out his body and his brain may help him to relax. Make sure that he has a place to retreat when he needs space and to be away from other people, and lots of mentally stimulating toys like treat toys and puzzle feeders. If he has moved with you several times, he may not have had the chance to get used to his new home, expressing his anxiety with growling. I would consult a behaviorist for tips and ask the vet as well - there may be a medical issue that needs to be ruled out, such as a thyroid problem. All the best to little Mugzy!

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Question
Charlie
German Shepherd
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Charlie
German Shepherd
1 Year

Charlie will paw at you and put his front paws on the couch when he wants to go up. When we correct him and guide him down, he revves up and tries harder

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hi there, sometimes it can be easier to make the couch off-limits at all times. This can give Charlie a clear message of what is allowed and what is not. But if you'd like him to be allowed some of the time, I suggest that you teach him the command "off". As soon as you tell him off (for example when his paws go on the couch as a signal he'd like to join you) he should obey. It's also a good command to know for many situations, such as if he attempts to look on the counter or jump up on someone. Instructions for "off" are here Invitation Only Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-puppy-to-stay-off-furniture As well, this is an excellent guide for training Charlie when it comes to couch rules. Read the entire guide for great tips! https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/. Good luck and all the best to Charlie!

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Question
floki
Labrador Retriever
4 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
floki
Labrador Retriever
4 Months

We have a very big sectional couch. One end is for our dog, the rest is for my husband and I. We put a large red comfortater on Floki's end to protect the couch. We've had him home 4 days and trying to teach him he can only go on his spot, but when he gets the zoomies or wandering the house he jumps on where we are sitting.

We have started "Off" command with treats, but seems like we still need a ton of repetition.

Should we call his spot something specific and direct him there? So far we say off and have him sit on the floor then treat.

Understanding we are WAAAAAY early into training, any other advice would be great.

Thanks!!

Heather
Hpotts85@gmail.com

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
241 Dog owners recommended

Hi there! Thank you for all of the details. This type of behavior training takes a lot of repetition over the course of a few weeks. You are doing everything right so far. You should put a command to his spot. Like "go to bed" or something of that sort. Redirect him to his spot and give him a treat. You are going to do this on repeat for a while! But he WILL get it. Thank you for writing in!

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Question
Bella
French Bulldog
8 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bella
French Bulldog
8 Weeks

Puppy keeps trying to jump on sofa trying to ignore her but worried she’ll hurt herself trying to jump up

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I suggest teaching a Place command and having a puppy bed nearby that she can be encouraged to go to chew on a dog-food stuffed chew toy instead. I would also recommend starting the process of teaching other directional commands like Leave It, Off, Out, and Place in general. She is young, so be patient with training and gently show her what to do and where to go while she is still learning what commands mean. You can also periodically sprinkle treats on the dog bed for her to find, to encourage her to naturally want to spend more time on the bed, in hopes of a surprise reward found there. Off- section on teach Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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