How to Train Your Dog to Stay Off the Couch When You're Not Home

Easy
2-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

So, you can keep your dog off the couch when you are at home, but every time you go out you come home to a couch covered in hair and a dog with a really sheepish look on his face. Not all of us want our pup to take over the couch and call it his favorite napping spot. The one thing you need to know is that you don't have to feel as though you are being mean by teaching your dog to stay off the couch.

While your pup is a member of your family, this doesn't mean that he has the right to use the furniture whether you are at home or not. Of course, your dog hops up on the couch because he loved to be comfortable. Yet the reality is, that as long as you give him his own comfy bed to lie on, there is no reason why he needs to get on the couch. 

Defining Tasks

Simply put, dogs tend to do things because they get some kind of reward out it. For example, they eat because the reward is a full stomach, they play fetch because they get to play with you and are rewarded with plenty of praise. Likewise, they get on your couch because it's nice and comfy.

Your dog needs to learn that sleeping somewhere other than the couch can be rewarding and that sneaking onto the couch is not. As for a command to use, the only ones you should need to teach your dog are "No!", "Get down!", and "Stay down!" The best way to keep your dog from getting up on the couch is to start when he is a puppy and never let him get used to being on the couch in the first place.

This training takes the help of your entire family. You need to make sure they all understand that at no time should anyone ever allow the dog on the couch or pick him up and put him in their lap while sitting on the couch. But, if he is already getting on the couch, you will need to teach him that this behavior is not acceptable. 

Getting Started

If your dog has already started hopping up on the couch, it is going to take a little time to teach him to stay on the floor and use his bed. The one thing you don't want to do is punish your dog by scolding him or, worse yet, smacking him. This may only make the problem worse and many cause other behavioral problems. Depending on the training method you choose, you may need a few supplies.

  • Treats: Treats are always an important part of training.
  • Laundry baskets: To block access to the couch.
  • Boxes: Can also be used to block off the couch.
  • Noisemakers: Place pebbles in a tin can and tape it closed to make an effective rattle.
  • Deterrent mat: A device that makes noise when your dog gets on the couch.

The rest is time and patience. It may take your dog a few weeks to get to the point at which he will no longer get on the couch. After that, you should be able to put that lint roller away for good. 

The Laundry Basket Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Gather your supplies
Gather up enough laundry baskets to cover all of the cushions on your couch.
Step
2
Cover up
Cover the couch with the baskets each time you get ready to go out. If your pup comes over to sniff at them, tell him "no" and make him go lie down on his bed. If he complies immediately, give him a treat.
Step
3
Do this over and over
Keep doing this each time you go out, reinforcing the idea that he is not allowed on the couch.
Step
4
If you come home to a mess
If you come home to laundry baskets on the floor and dog hair on the couch, make some tin can rattles and place them in the baskets.
Step
5
Too much noise
The next time your pup knocks the laundry baskets down, the rattles will make an awful noise that will startle him. After a few of these events, your pup will start to put two and two together and stop trying to get on the couch.
Recommend training method?

The Pyramid Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Gather up your noisemakers
For this method you will need several tin can rattles, enough to build a small pyramid on your couch.
Step
2
Build your pyramid
Using the rattle cans, build a pyramid on a spot of your couch that guarantees they will fall when your dog attempts to get on the couch.
Step
3
Show your dog
Bring your dog into the room and show him the pyramid, say "stay down" and send him to lie down on his bed.
Step
4
Go out for the afternoon
Go out and enjoy the afternoon shopping, catch a movie, grab a meal. In others words, have some fun.
Step
5
If the cans are up
If he is waiting for you by the door as usual with the pyramid intact, praise him and give him a handful of his favorite treats.
Step
6
If the cans are down
If the cans are all knocked down, your dog was probably very startled by the noise. This is a good thing, as it will only take a few of these episodes before he stops. The hardest part is remaining consistent and letting your dog figure out when he has had enough.
Recommend training method?

The Shrieker Mat Method

ribbon-method-3
Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Try the block method first
Before resorting to using a shrieker mat, try using laundry baskets, boxes, or tin can rattles to block your pup's access to the couch when you are not home.
Step
2
Give these methods time
It can take some dogs longer than others to get the idea, and some never do. But give these methods a few weeks to work.
Step
3
Go shopping
Go to your local pet shop and look for a shrieking alarm mat. This is a special pad that goes across the cushions on your couch. An alarm will sound if the mat is disturbed--such as by a sneaky dog looking for a spot to snooze.
Step
4
Install the mat
The next time you go out, put the mat on the couch.
Step
5
Go out for a while
Go out for a while and leave your pup in the house. When you come home, you will know if he tried to jump up on the couch. The mat will probably all messed up and your dog will not go anywhere near it. You may have to do this for a few weeks, but in time your pup will no longer even think of getting on the couch. Mission accomplished.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Freddy
german shepard
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Freddy
german shepard
1 Year

We just got a new couch and our dogs have ripped a hole in one spot and keep pulling out the cushion and springs!
I spent the whole weekend seeing up these spots and making sure it was secure.
The first day we were gone to work, the test was ripped back open and torn out. Now it’s an every day thing. We’ve gotten a couch cover , which they pull off, every day and I was layering fitted sheets under. It’s normally just one spot until the other day now there’s two.
We have a 4 year old Boston terrier but a few days a week she goes to stay with my parents, when she’s gone and it’s just Freddy ( our 1 year old German Shepard) he doesn’t mess with the couch. When they are both home together, that’s when he messes with the couch. We have a camera in the living room and I’ve watched him go straight to the hole so I know it probably him. I just can’t watch the camera all day. Our couch is brand new but is already in bad shape. Is frustrating coming home everyday to see this. I have never used a crate before but I’m thinking this is my only option.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lauren, I do highly recommend crate training. I also recommend teaching Leave It and Out. Check out the article I have linked below. Chewing: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ I recommend crate training pup and crating pup when you can't supervise. I would teach Leave It and Out and practice around the couch when you are home. After you do those things, I would also set up time to practice, where you can pretend to leave with pup out of the crate, watching them from a camera and correcting with a vibration or low level stimulation collar if pup goes for the couch with you looking. Pup will still need to be crated at all other times when you can't be watching to correct, or rewarding for obeying Leave It when you are in the home, but the combination of these things can help pup learn not to chew the couch anymore, then after about six months, you can test leaving pup out of the crate for 10 minutes while you go on a walk and watch the camera, gradually increasing that amount of time by 10 minute increments, then 30 minute increments until you have worked up to pup being alone and non-destructive for 4 hours consistently. If he is not already used to a crate, expect crying at first. When he cries and you know he doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give him a dog food stuffed hollow chew toy to help him adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. If he continues protesting for long periods of time past 3-5 days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" but using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell him "Quiet" when he barks and cries. If he gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If he disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at his side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If he stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Only use the unscented air from the Pet Convincers - don't use citronella, it's too harsh and lingers for too long so can be confusing. For the remote training collar, if you find that's needed, you will need to learn how to fit it and set the level correctly. Many high quality remote training collars include a vibration setting and stimulation settings. Be sure to only use a high quality collar, such as Dogtra, Garmin, SportDog, and E-collar technologies, for safety reasons. If you use stimulation, you want to use the lowest level pup indicates they can feel, so a good collar should have at least 40 different levels. It's also important to get the right fit on the collar, start by putting the e-collar on him while he is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. To learn how to put the collar on him, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if he responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning his head, moving his ears, biting his fur, moving away from where he was, or changing his expression. If he does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when he is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing his reaction at that level until he indicates a little bit that he can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once you have found the correct level, that's the level and fitting you will use when you train. You may have to increase the level 1-3, depending on the amount of levels your collar has, but I wouldn't increase higher than that without making sure the collar is fitted and working and pup feeling it correctly. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Storm
Shih Tzu mix
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
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Storm
Shih Tzu mix
1 Year

My dog keeps going on my couch when I’m not home. I know because it’s a lot my dog fur on the couch and also when I come home she runs in her crate and hid when she hears me open the door

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

Hello! Below are some steps to help with keeping your dog off the couch. 1. Make sure everyone in the house is on the same page, and not letting the dog up onto the couch. Ever. 2.Anytime your dog gets on the furniture, or puts her paws up on the furniture, ask her to get “off”, and lure her off the furniture with a treat or toss a few treats on the ground. You can also reward her with a treat if she happens to jump off. If your dog won’t budge, you may have to help them get down by picking them up or nudging them (you don’t have to push, throw, or shove your dog). 3. Train her to go to her “bed”. Your dog wants to be on the couch to be near you and because it’s super comfortable, so if you aren’t going to let her on the couch, give her a comfortable second option. Put the bed near the couch, and train her to go to it. Start by tossing some treats on the bed or rewarding her for putting her feet on the bed when you point to it. Then move to asking your dog to sit or lay down on the bed, pairing it with “go to bed”. When your dog jumps on the couch, ask her to go to her bed instead. 4. Use a “positive interrupter” to get him off the couch. A positive interrupter is a noise that distracts your dog without scaring or upsetting him. When your dog jumps on the couch, you make a noise, and then when he jumps off, you click and reward. This video by Pam’s Dog Academy does a great job of explaining this concept. 5. Manage your dog when you aren’t home. You don’t want your dog to sneak in and lounge on the couch when you aren’t home, so block off the room, crate your dog, or keep your dog in another room while you aren’t home. 6. Make it impossible for him to get on the couch in the first place. Put chairs on the couch when you aren’t sitting on it, or upside down laundry baskets. There is even something called the Couch Defender that looks like a tunnel that you can put on your couch/chair.

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Question
ziggy
Yorkie
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
ziggy
Yorkie
2 Years

how can i get my dog to stay off my couches when i am not home?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Aliisha, Check out Part 3 of the article linked below. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lucy
Beagle
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lucy
Beagle
4 Years

We put tinfoil on the couch so it would scare her to get off but then every time we take it off she gets back on the couch and she knows that she’s not supposed to be on the couch because every time we are there she doesn’t go on the couch and then we walk in and see her on the couch and then she immediately gets off but we know that she’s been out on there for a while

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kaylee, Since pup is at the point where they know the rules but are getting on the couch when the foil isn't present any way, I suggest using a deterrent, rather than just a more neutral blocker- like the foil. Check out the article linked below and the section on "Use Deterrent". https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Alfie
Small Podenco
5 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Alfie
Small Podenco
5 Years

We've only had him for a few days, when I've gone out of the room he's just sat on the floor waiting for me to return. The last time I came back in to find he had been on our lovely mahogany table, knocked several items of and got on the windowsill tearing the net curtain. He was back on the floor when I returned. Never had a rescue before. How do I stop this?

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

Thank you for the inquiry. Alfie is either curious and wants to see out the window, or stressed and getting into things. You want to keep him safe above all, so getting him used to a crate is ideal. I have a Rottweiler mix who used to get into everything - and destroy. We began crating him when we were out. Take a Kong, fill it with softened kibble mixed with dog-safe peanut butter (no xylitol - it's toxic!). Freeze the Kong and give it to Alfie in the crate when you leave. It won't be long that every time he sees the Kong, he'll run for the crate in anticipation. Here are a few excellent tips:https://wagwalking.com/training/crate-train-a-beagle-puppy Good luck!

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