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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.
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.
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 Command for Off Method
When you catch your dog on the couch without an invitation from you, say the command phrase, 'off the couch.'
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Each time your dog behaves in a positive manner, click and treat.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have your dog get off the couch. Once he's down, give him a treat.
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.
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
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