Does your dog like to sneak up on the couch for a nap when your back is turned or you're not home? This is not surprising, as most dogs like to find a comfortable spot to nap and your soft couch can often prove to be too tempting to resist.
The bad news is that once your dog has had a taste of the good life, you might be faced with an endless struggle to convince him he is not allowed to be on the couch. The best thing you can do is set the rules right from the beginning and ensure that your dog knows where he can and cannot take a nap. Preventing your dog from getting on the couch is a matter of training, for both you and your dog.
Set the Rules from Day One
If you want your dog to stay off the couch, you have to be prepared to set the ground rules from day one. If you start out by letting him come up on the couch with you when he is a puppy, you are teaching him it is ok to continue doing so as an adult.
Once you tell your dog it is okay to be on the couch once, you are essentially giving him permission to do so forever. Start out by not letting him on the couch from the start and you should never have the problem.
Consistency is key in teaching your four-legged friend to stay off the furniture, or anything else for that matter. Once you decide on a particular pattern of acceptable behavior, you have to stick to it. If you don't, you end up with a confused dog who may not understand that the couch is for the humans in the house and not for him.
Give Him a Space He Can Call His Own
If you decide that you don't want your dog to spend time on the couch, you need to provide him with a comfortable space of his own to rest in. This way he is more likely to spend time in "his" space rather than trying to invade yours.
Try to avoid buying one of those inexpensive flat dog beds, as they are not very comfortable. Instead, buy one of the "donut" shaped beds with a bolster that gives him somewhere to lay his head or lean against.
Never bury the bed in a spot where he cannot keep in touch with his humans or he is not likely to use it. Place the bed close to the area where you tend to spend the most time, this will encourage him to start spending more time on it.
You might even consider buying more than one bed and placing them in the bedroom, living room, family room, and any of the other primary living spaces in your home. You may also need to use some type of treat to encourage him to use his bed at first.
Reduce Accessibility to Your Couch
One of the reasons your dog jumps up on the couch whether you are home or not is that it is easily accessible. There are numerous ways you can use to discourage this type of behavior.
If you are at home and you catch him getting on the couch, make him get down using the same stern command each time. The more you enforce this scenario, the less likely he will be to continue getting on the couch. However, this only works when you are home.
When your dog only seems to get on the couch when you are not home, try making the couch less accessible. Here are two methods you can use, both of which have been found to work quite well.
#1. Make the couch less available.
Place large items such as laundry baskets on the couch. These will block his way onto the couch and quickly discourage him from trying. In time, he will learn that he doesn't belong on the couch and will stop trying.
#2. Make the couch less appealing.
The involves the use of an avoidance mat. This device includes a mat designed to make a very loud shrill noise whenever your dog steps on it. The noise will scare him away from the couch and, in a very short time, he will learn to stay away to avoid the noise. However, you need to make sure your dog will not be traumatized by the noise. If you think he will be, you need to find a different method.
Importance of Prevention
Keeping your dog off the couch is a personal decision-- whether he naps on the couch or on the floor, he will sleep just fine. Keeping him off the couch may help the couch to stay cleaner and last longer, and some family members and guests may be more comfortable having the couch a human-only zone.
Most of the do-it-yourself methods involving training will not cost you a dime, only a little bit of your time and effort. The prevention mats are not terribly expensive, but in reality, as long as you are willing to invest in the time it takes to train your dog, they are completely unnecessary and your dog may eventually get used to the noise, rendering this method ineffective.
The long and short-term effects of most of these methods are simply that your dog will need to find somewhere else to sleep. What’s significant, though, it that it’s easier to set the rules from the outset and teach your dog to keep them than it is to change his behavior down the road.
While many people don't mind having their dog climb up on the couch for a nap, if this is not something you want, there are several different ways to teach your dog to stay down. The best method is to start right from day one training your dog that he is not welcome on the couch or any other piece of furniture in your home. Bear in mind that once you allow him to come up on the couch with you, you are essentially telling him he can be there anytime he wants. Start from day one, be consistent, and your dog will never get it in his mind that he can climb up on the couch for a nap or any other reason.