Stop Dog Jumping on Furniture!
Are you looking for a way to stop your dog jumping on furniture? It’s no small matter to decide whether you’re going to allow your dog to make himself at home on your furniture or not. If your dog’s a sizable one, it’s even more of a deal.
There are two reasons why access to furniture is so important. The first one is that it’s really annoying to have to fight for a spot on your own sofa. Secondly, it has a lot to do with the question of dominance, which is of the greatest importance as far as an agreeable owner/dog relationship is concerned.
Your dog is aware that the furniture – and especially your bed – is your particular space. If he’s habitually permitted to access your private, personal domain whenever he chooses, that surrendering of your space will be a pretty big element to him. It’ll be a good idea to bear this in mind before making a final decision to allow or deny your dog access to your furniture.
If you do decide to give him unhindered access, just make sure that you enforce the other aspects of alpha-dominance extra strictly to keep him from developing an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
It’s generally a good idea to deny a dog access to furniture absolutely until he’s at least 5 or 6 months old. As a puppy grows up, he forms the basis of his understanding as to what constitutes appropriate behavior. At the same time, he’s determining his own ranking in the social order of the family.
Furniture Access is a Privilege, not a Right
The three most-valued items of household furniture for any dog are couches, armchairs and beds. If he’s allowed to jump onto these at will from day one, he’ll have a distorted view of his own status. Instead of seeing it as a privilege (which is what it is), he’ll see it as his God-given right – something to be taken for granted.
This will be tantamount to equating your dog’s rank with your own – definitely not a good thing.
In order to uphold a good relationship with your dog, you don’t only need to be the boss; he needs to know that you’re the boss.
To prevent the development of attitude problems in your dog’s adolescence, it’s generally best to keep your puppy as humble as possible. This means that he must learn to appreciate being allowed up “on your level”.
Consistency is Key!
The first rule in this regard is – consistency. You have to be consistent! Here’s why: once you’ve made your decision as to whether or not he’s to be allowed up on the furniture, you will need to stick with that decision, otherwise – whatever your decision was – you won’t have a hope of enforcing it (see our article on Positive Reinforcement Techniques for Dogs).
For example, if you’re allowing him up on the bed but not on the couch, he must never be allowed on that couch, even for a moment. You must also ensure that no-one else in the household counteracts your decision by inviting him to do what is not allowed.
Don’t confuse your dog by changing the rules according to human whims. It’s not fair on your dog. He doesn’t know the difference between clean paws and dirty paws or an expensive new couch and a grubby old one. Taking that frustration out on your dog will be upsetting and confusing for him.
This is why it’ll be a fantastic idea to impose limits if you’re going to allow him any access at all. Teach him that he can’t just jump up as and when he wants to, but that he must wait for an invitation.
It’s pretty easy to invite your dog to join you on the couch. All you need to do is just pat the seat alongside you and, in a happy and friendly tone, say, “Up you get!”. Few dogs will need more encouragement than this – he’ll be up like a shot before your next pat.
You’ll also need to enforce the “Off!” command; this will give you the peace of mind that, when you need some space for yourself, it’s yours to take. It also reminds your dog – most emphatically – that his access to furniture is not a right but a privilege.
As one can expect, most dogs are not as enthusiastic about obeying the “off” command as they are about the “up you get”. You may, on occasion, need to use a little physical persuasion to maintain obedience. Never fear, it’s not being cruel in the slightest – but is very effective.
5 Simple Steps to Take
1. Give him an attractive alternative. Commanding your dog to vacate a comfortable couch to lie on a bare floor is not something he’s going to respond to with enthusiasm. Rather set him up for success by giving him a comfortable dog bed. You could easily make one yourself out of pillows or towels; alternatively, you can buy a dog bed from your local pet store or select one online from Amazon.
2. When it’s time for him to vacate your space, indicate the dog bed and say, “Off” in a gentle, authoritative voice. Use a pleasant but no-nonsense tone – there’s no need to shout.
3. If he doesn’t respond immediately, don’t repeat yourself. Keep pointing at the bed while maintaining eye contact. If your dog is perceptive, it will often be enough to just intensify your expression, such as tightening your mouth or raising your eyebrows.
4. Wait for 30 seconds (it might feel like an eternity!).
5. If there’s still no response, you can resort to a physical enforcement of your command.
The Compassionate Physical Enforcement Procedure
Some owners will drag their dogs off by the collar. This might be effective in the short-term but is not recommended. This is because, as a procedure, it gives your dog the opportunity to demonstrate his refusal to obey you. He can still strain against your opposing force, which is both counteractive to all the available alpha-dominant behavioral training and downright disrespectful.
Thinking smartly is much more effective. Get him to get off under his own steam. Do this by making the furniture uncomfortable for him (the couch, bed or armchair): Slide your hand, palm down, under his behind. Slowly slide your hand forward, using your arm as a lever to slowly and gently pry him off the couch. It will raise his bottom into the air by degrees, which will become increasingly uncomfortable for him. It should be enough to make him jump off the couch of his own accord.
This is physically a lot less demanding – and more effective – than dragging an unwilling dog off by the collar. By making him want to get off when you command him to, you will be strongly enforcing your obedience requirements. This will be great for your role as an authority figure.
For more information on dog behavioral problems and canine psychology, check out Secrets to Dog Training. This gold-mine of valuable information and advice for the responsible dog owner covers practically every topic you could ever need to raise a healthy, happy and well-adjusted dog. You’ll find everything from correcting problematic behaviors to obedience work, dog-whispering and teaching “tricks”. All is covered in full detail.