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

How to Train Your Dog to Stay Off the Couch When You're Not Home
Easy difficulty iconEasy
Time icon2-8 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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The Laundry Basket Method

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1

Gather your supplies

Gather up enough laundry baskets to cover all of the cushions on your couch.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Pyramid Method

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1

Gather up your noisemakers

For this method you will need several tin can rattles, enough to build a small pyramid on your couch.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Shrieker Mat Method

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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.

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.

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.

4

Install the mat

The next time you go out, put the mat on the couch.

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.

By PB Getz

Published: 12/01/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Bella

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Pit bull

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6 Years

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Question

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Bella keeps jumping on the couch when nobody’s home even though she has a bed and a blanket to lay on. How can I get her to stop?

June 23, 2022

Bella's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brianna, Check out the article I have linked below and the section on what to do while away...You will find there sections on blocking access or using deterrents. I would practice Off in general too so pup knows clearly that it's off limits. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 24, 2022

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Ciastek

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Mix

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4 Years

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Question

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This dog is very dodger, he's acting at his best when we are in home. however, the moment we leave - he steals the other dog foods, checks around the house whether there's foods/unlocks the door to our bedroom. Jumps to couch when he clearly KNOWS that dogs are not allowed on the couch. I am slowly getting enough of his behaviour.

March 17, 2022

Ciastek's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Camilla, I would start by crate training pup and crating pup with a dog food stuffed chew toy while you are away. When you are home, I would also set up a camera, pretend to leave, then spy on pup and correct behaviors pup knows are off-limits with a properly fitted and trained remote training collar. To start, pup needs to practice commands and behaviors you want pup to do, rewarding those behaviors so once pup is corrected pup will clearly understand why and what to do instead. Out - which means leave the area (to address food stealing): https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method (to address food stealing): https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command (good to reward so pup will learn to die down on their dog bed instead of the couch): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Off- section on The Off command (for staying off couch): https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Drop It – Exchange method: https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-it First teach pup the above commands. Next, with pup on a training leash, set up scenarios where pup will be a bit tempted to do the unwanted behaviors, then give the appropriate command for that situation, reward pup if they obey, and correct on pup's working level on the remote training collar without showing pup the remote or saying much, if pup disobeys your command and does the unwanted behavior. Once pup does the appropriate behavior, like getting off the couch and onto their Place, reward with a treat. Once pup is 100% reliable with those commands while you are home, set up your camera and train with the remote training collar for short periods of time while watching from outside, go back inside to give pup a treat before leaving again, if you catch pup doing something great, like laying on their own bed or walking past another dog's food without touching it. When you aren't proactively training this, or pup is still learning the meaning of the above commands before even being ready for the remote training collar, pup should be crated while away right now. Get a durable, escape proof crate, since pup seems to have skills for getting into and out of places. If pup is still struggling with the crate, you can respond back with a new question, and I am happy to give instructions for how to address crate issues as well. Surprise method for crate training: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Example of crate issues being addressed if pup does try to break out or howl relentlessly...Work on the surprise method first though. Most dogs will need that and adjust to the crate doing just the surprise method: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3j882MAYDU Finally, except for specific training purposes, I don't recommend leaving dog bowls down while away. Give each dog 15 minutes to eat their food before pulling up bowls. If there is stress or competing over food, feed in separate rooms or individual closed crates. Multi-dog households generally should not free-feed because of the risk of food fights, one dog becoming overweight, other dogs not getting enough, and generally encouraging competing, stress, and bad behaviors - when you are not always there to enforce good behaviors. With 15-30 minutes for meals (meal times like what we have) you can enforce manners around each other. Whereas with food left down, you can't. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

March 17, 2022


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