How to Train Your Older Dog to Stay Off the Furniture

Easy
2-4 Days
General

Introduction

For many families, having a dog snuggled up on the couch with them is like a dream come true. But not all dogs are suited for spending time up on the furniture. Some dogs can be messy or hyperactive, can destroy sheets, blankets, or pillows, or become territorial or aggressive when posed with the task of sharing the chair. Pet hair can also be an issue. Families with dogs who don’t make great pillow pals are more likely to want to keep the furniture a dog-free zone and that’s okay too. Lots of dogs are more than happy to cozy up in their own bed or on a nice area on the floor. But if your stubborn old dog who may have been let up on the furniture more than once is now fighting you when you’d prefer him to stay off, there may be a bit of retraining to do.

Older dogs can get accustomed to things being this way or that, but when things shift around and change, it can be hard to readjust to the new setup. Getting new furniture is a common reason for families who used to allow their dog up with them to now let Fido know that his place is in his own bed or on the floor.

Defining Tasks

An older dog may be hesitant, at first, to change the way he’s used to doing things, but with some persistence, he can adjust in time. There are a few different ways to convince your dog that the furniture is a place that he isn’t allowed and each of them require some consistency. If half of the people in your home let him up on the couch and the other half don’t, it can be difficult for him to adjust properly. So keep this under consideration when training him.

Training your dog to stay off of the furniture consists of two parts: the act of staying off and the reward received afterward. The floor or your dog’s bed should be comfortable and enticing. It’s hard to trade a good thing for a boring or bad thing. You’ll want your dog to be eager to sit or lay elsewhere. The good news is, this is relatively easy and should only really take a few days for your older dog to adjust.

Getting Started

Consider purchasing a new bed or pillow for your dog to enjoy instead of your furniture. If he has a nice place to rest, he’ll be less likely to take over your spot on the couch. Keep in mind that older dogs require softer material to sleep or lay on. Their joints and body can stay healthier for longer if provided with appropriate beds.

Then find your dog’s favorite treat or toy. Having something to distract or occupy him on the floor will make it easier to adjust to that space instead. These tools will help your dog realize that the furniture belongs to you.

The Block Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Take up the available space
If possible, have your family or your guests take up as much space on the furniture as possible. This will keep your dog from filling in the empty space.
Step
2
Avoid accessibility
If your older dog uses steps or a stoop to get up onto the furniture, remove access to this step stool and do not give him the access he needs to use the furniture.
Step
3
Use your legs
If necessary, move your legs to create a block so that your dog does not find it easy to leap up.
Step
4
Use a baby gate
Placing a baby gate in front of furniture that you don’t want your dog to have access to will keep him from being able to get to it. Look for one that can extend in length. These are useful to place in front of couches or next to beds.
Step
5
Use an object
Use something like a box, a laundry basket, or another larger object to take up the seat that your dog would otherwise want to use.
Recommend training method?

The Off Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Observe your dog
This method requires catching your dog in the act. Let her into the room that she usually finds furniture to lay on and keep an eye on her behavior.
Step
2
Intervene
The moment your dog hops up on the furniture, go over to her with a treat or a toy in hand. Do not give it to her just yet.
Step
3
Give the command
Use the word ‘off’ to indicate where you’d like your dog to go. Use the treat or the toy to lure her back down onto the floor and off of the furniture.
Step
4
Reward for progress
When your dog decides to go after the treat or toy instead, immediately reward her for doing as you asked. This will teach her that the floor has good things and the furniture is not where she should be.
Step
5
Practice on each piece of furniture
Your dog may think each piece of furniture has a different rule set. Give the command frequently and with all of your furniture that she likes to use. Practicing consistently will help her to realize that you do not want her on any of the furniture.
Recommend training method?

The Spot Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Determine an appropriate place to sit
Place your dog’s bed or a small blanket down on a certain spot where you would like him to sit instead of on your furniture.
Step
2
Place a treat or toy down
Use this as bait to get your dog to settle down onto his designated spot. You may use multiple treats or your dog’s favorite toy.
Step
3
Redirect as needed
If your dog loses interest and tries to go up onto the furniture, use the treat or toy as a lure to guide him back to where you want him. Associate this spot with good things.
Step
4
Repeat
This may take several times for him to understand. Consider using treats that are especially tasty or a new toy that he hasn’t seen before.
Step
5
Stay consistent
Each family member must know this spot and where your dog should be sitting when people are on the couch or around the home. Have each person in the home repeat this with your dog often enough and he will pick up on what you expect from him.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Spike
Pug
6 Years
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Question
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Spike
Pug
6 Years

My dog gets on the couch when we are not home. He sleeps on his bed when we are home and knows he’s not supposed to be on the couch, but he jumps and stay on the couch when we are not home. We sometimes would catch him on there when we get home. How do I train him to stop?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
780 Dog owners recommended

Hello Cherry, Check out the article linked below and the section on "How to train while you are away": https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ginger
German shepherd lab mix
1 Year
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Question
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Ginger
German shepherd lab mix
1 Year

I live in an apartment and every single time my dog wants to play,she always decides to jump on the two couches while playing. How do I stop this?

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

Hello, Ginger is definitely at a playful age. Be sure to take her for long walks, fun time at the park, and games of fetch every day. She needs to burn off all of that young dog energy! Make sure she attends dog training as well to give her the basics of obedience commands. Once she has the first commands down pat, it is very easy to teach her the "Off" command. Give her interactive toys at home, too, like puzzle feeders that take a while to work on. In the meantime, work on these training sessions: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you. Also, use the off command on this page and be firm and consistent. Don't let her on the couches at any time to keep the rules clear. Get her a doggy bed for the living room instead. Remember, dog training classes will also help Ginger to be a well-socialized dog. Good luck!

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Question
Ginger
German Shepherd
1 Year
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Question
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Ginger
German Shepherd
1 Year

Sometimes my dog jumps on the sofa, and every single time I try to get her off with a treat, she jumps on the sofa over and over again. I already know she keeps on doing this because she keeps on wanting to have a treat.Even when I give her a bed to lay on, she chews on it and gets on the sofa again. Any suggestions?

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

Hello, I would recommend teaching her the off command. In a firm voice, say off, point to the floor, and move her off the couch. Do this every time Ginger is there. Be consistent and do not give in. You can attach the leash to Ginger's collar as a way to get her off the couch - then she knows you mean business. Don't give her any treats - although if she begins to listen to the off command, you can reward her for her good behavior once she has settled somewhere else, like her dog bed. Only give her the treat once she is on the bed. Also, now and then, bring her a treat when she is on the bed - just for her good behavior. There are great tips here for helping Ginger stay on the bed: https://wagwalking.com/training/lay-on-his-bed. Remember, Ginger is an energetic breed that loves to use their brain and have a job to do. Provide plenty of toys, including an interactive feeder that has her work for some of her meal. Feed a half portion and give her the other half in the feeder to keep her busy and stimulated. Make sure she is getting plenty of exercise. She'll calm down and be more obedient if tired. And of course, obedience classes are a must. To get started at home: https://wagwalking.com/training/obedience-train-a-great-dane. Good luck!

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Question
RHiNo
American Bulldog
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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RHiNo
American Bulldog
3 Years

Keep him off the couch

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
214 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
Prince
Labrador Retriever
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Prince
Labrador Retriever
8 Months

My dog has been in my house for about 3 weeks now and I feel like his behavior has only gotten worse even with consistent rules. He never ever tried to get on the couch for 2.5 weeks and now he attempts to get on the couch within 10 minutes every time he is let out of the crate. I consistently redirect him to his bed with treats and he will lay there for about a minute before trying to bring the treat or toy to the couch. I redirect him again but after redirecting 10 times in an hour I put him back in the crate because he just wont listen.

If my daughter is on the couch he jumps directly into her lap and licks and paws her trying to get attention. he will bite at blankets and bite the couch and in general is a terror so he is not ever allowed on the couch or to jump on my daughter. He is told to get down, crated or physically removed. Every single time.

In general he just doesnt listen. He knows come and sit from excruciatingly slow clicker training over the last three weeks but he will not stay, will not stop chewing the leash, will not quit jumping. I absolutely must crate or lock him outside if company is coming he will jump on kids and adults and mouth hands (he NEVER EVER mouths me).

I feel bad crating him 20 times a day for a time out but he refuses to stay off the sofa or the children.

I feel like its important to say he is not aggressive in any way that I can tell. I can and do take treats or stolen things from the kids right out of his mouth, move his food bowls, take his toys away to move him or the toys, without problem. He never growls at us, nips or snaps, never snarls. Occasionally he shows his teeth, sometimes when being pet for awhile but he encourages the petting and will paw you to keep going. He makes no noises during the teeth showing, it concerned me at first but the vet believes it is submissive smiling? He also had / has a problem with submissive peeing. No one here ever yells at him but being told to get down or out would sometimes make him dip his head and pee (then id immediately take him outside to finish).

What can I do to get my dog to stay off my kid and guest and off the couch?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
780 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marisa, I recommend teaching pup the Out, Off, and Place command. Off can be used to get pup off the couch, Place to teach pup to lie on their own dog bed instead, and Out to send pup out of the area when he is being tempted to get back on or pestering people. Check out the article I have linked below for instructions on teaching those things. I also recommend using a deterrent on the couch that will enforce the rule without you having you. The article linked below also has some suggestions for deterrents that can be placed on the couch. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ For the jumping and licking, I also recommend working on Leave It and the Step Toward and Leash methods from the articles linked below. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Jumping: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump It sounds like pup likely doesn't understand why they are being crated or what to do instead. Place can help pup have an alternative behavior to do instead. Reward pup also when you calmly catch them lying on place without having to be told to. Simply walk up to pup and calmly place a treat between their paws without getting them too excited. I would also feed pup part of their kibble in dog food stuffed chew toys, like kongs, kong wobble, and other durable hollow chew toys. It sounds like pup probably needs some mental and physical stimulation to help with their energy at this age. When you walk pup, practice structured heeling, incorporating commands like Sit Stay, Down Stay, Watch me, and Heel into the walk, or play fetch and incorporate things like Stay, Down, Sit, Wait, Come, and Drop It to wear pup out mentally too. Mental stimulation being added to physical exercise can help with calmness. Having a thirty minute training session where pup practices new commands and tricks, or harder versions of things they already know can also help with excess mental energy too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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