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The Barkless Couch: A Guide to Training Your Dog to Stay Off Your Furniture

By Aviram K.
Published in Training & Behavior
December 25, 2022
4 min read
The Barkless Couch: A Guide to Training Your Dog to Stay Off Your Furniture
✏️ This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

Have you ever come home to find your dog lounging on your couch, looking all too comfortable and satisfied?

Or have you caught your furry friend sneaking onto the bed while you were out of the room?

It’s understandable to want your dog to have their own designated spot, whether it’s a cozy dog bed or a crate.

Not only does it protect your furniture from wear and tear, but it also helps your dog understand their boundaries and gives them a sense of security.

So, how do you train your dog to stay off the couch, even when you’re not around to supervise?

The key is to start early, be consistent, and offer your dog an alternative place. This can include investing in a comfortable dog bed or crate and teaching specific commands such as “off” and “up.” Crate training can also be an effective way to prevent furniture access when you’re not around to supervise.

In this article, I’ll discuss these steps in detail, including tips and strategies for each one. By the end, you’ll have all the tools you need to train your dog to stay off the couch (or other furniture) and respect your boundaries.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

Table of Contents
01
It’s Okay Not to Want Your Dog on Your Couch or Other Furniture
02
How to Train Your Dog to Stay off the Couch (Even When You’re Not Around)

It’s Okay Not to Want Your Dog on Your Couch or Other Furniture

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Although the culture of modern-day pet ownership glorifies having animals on couches and beds, you certainly don’t need to give into this kind of peer pressure.

A dog can be just as content in their own designated spot (such as a dog bed) as on your furniture, so their quality of life certainly isn’t impeded.

Teaching your dog not to sit on the couch or bed can have many benefits to it, ranging from dogs asking for permission before coming up all the way to keeping muddy paws off of new couches!

Your pup can still spend plenty of good time with you without having to also invade your couch space.

How to Train Your Dog to Stay off the Couch (Even When You’re Not Around)

Training your dog to not find themselves on the furniture (unannounced anyway) tend to fall into four distinct steps: preventing the behavior, offering an alternative place to be, training an “off” command, and training an “up” command.

Prevention: Start Young and Be Consistent

As is the case with a lot of behaviors, starting young is the best way to lay the training foundation.

If you have a puppy, not allowing them onto the furniture from the get-go is the best way to ease into training your dog to not find their way onto the couch. Puppies learn behaviors when they are allowed to partake in something; simply do not entertain your puppy exploring the furniture!

Avoid spending time with your puppy on the furniture (instead, spend it on the floor with them). When gone, ensure your puppy doesn’t have access to the furniture by blocking off the couch or confining them to an area without the couch or bed.

If you brought in a new dog as an adult, whether the dog is a rescue or a rehome, you could still start with the prevention step. As your dog is in your home, don’t encourage behavior that isn’t consistent with what you want.

Speaking of consistency, that’s actually the primary key to success here. Dogs can’t always understand the difference between why they are allowed on the bed but not on the couch and vice versa.

As such, you must remain firm on the prevention step and not allow the dog onto human furniture.

Alternatives: Providing a Comfortable and Cozy Spot for Your Dog

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Dogs want to sit on the couch with us because it is both close to us and also comfortable. As such, you can’t ask your dog to abandon the couch without offering some form of alternative. Invest in a comfortable and cozy dog bed, kennel, or any other warm space for your dog.

Make sure to place this alternative spot near where you spend time, as your dog will want to be near you! Also, proper placement of the dog bed or crate can help ease into the idea of no dogs being allowed on the furniture.

Because dogs tend to try to sneak onto the furniture when we aren’t there, the key to this is to prevent your dog from having access when you’re not around to supervise.

Crate training your dog is a great way to do this, allowing your pup a designated space that is all their own while also ensuring they can’t access furniture.

“Off” and “Up”: Teaching Your Dog Specific Useful Commands

The best method to prevent a dog from being on the couch is to teach two nifty commands: “off” and “up”.

Teach your dog what you want them to do instead of just telling them “no” every time they climb up on the sofa.

Imagine that when you went to a friend’s house to sit down, they would always say “no,” but they wouldn’t say where you should sit instead. Or picture your friend telling you “no” because there was a crucial explanation for why you needed to take a certain seat. Wouldn’t it be preferable if they simply instructed you on where to sit?

As such, using the command “off” when your dog is on the couch and then “up” when you either want them on the couch or to show an alternative place for them to be is an effective way to train your pup.

Every time your dog goes up on the couch when you don’t want them to, encourage them to get off and say “off” while rewarding them with a treat each time.

Do this consistently enough, and your dog will understand! Same with “up”, encourage your dog to go ‘up’ to their designated dog bed, with great treats in tow, and your dog will know what you want.

Remember to be very excited and throw a party for your pup whenever they do something right!

Some people prefer to replace the term “up” with the term “place” - whatever you feel best using is great!


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