Has your furry pal taken over your couch? Even if your dog gives you that cute, sheepish look after covering the furniture in hair, don’t wave the flag of defeat.
Just like humans, dogs want to be comfortable whenever they take a break. So when your pup sees the opportunity to snuggle up on soft furniture, it’s often too great of a temptation to resist. It’s not wrong to allow your pet to hang out with you on the couch. However, if he leaves behind fur, this may be quite troublesome during cleaning.
To allow or not to allow?
The decision to allow your pet on the furniture is your personal choice. If you don’t mind occasional muddy paws or some extra fur on your cushions, this can be a nice way to spend a good time with your dog. But remember, there’s an exception: a canine who thinks he owns the couch.
If your pup has ever growled at you to keep his spot on the furniture whenever you try to move him over, you should put an end to his couch privileges. You shouldn’t feel as though you’re cruel by teaching your pet to stay off the couch. While your dog is a family member, this doesn’t mean that he can use the furniture whether you’re around or not.
To set you up for success during dog training, a Dubai pet food company lists down the following methods you can use.
1. Stay consistent
Above everything else, you should try to remain consistent with the rules you set for your dog. This means that everybody in the house, including the kids, dog sitter, and guests should abide by it. It’s easier for your canine to learn when everyone is holding him to the same standard so that he won’t get confused.
To ensure everyone in the household is on the same page, gather the family and inform them what things are allowed and not allowed for the dog. Bear in mind that part-time privileges will only make it harder for your pup to understand the rules. It’s best to keep your canine off the couch from the start as it will be more difficult to un-train the behaviour once the dog gets used to it.
2. Train your dog to get off
After you’ve busted your dog oblivious and dreaming on the couch, it’s time you teach him the “get off” command. While some suggest encouraging your pup to get up on the furniture to make the cue work, this might teach him another accidental lesson. If your dog is a clever one, he may associate getting up on the couch to get a reward for getting off. As a result, your pet will jump on the furniture often, thinking that the “get off” cue will earn him treats.
“Get off” Training
Take a treat and place it on the ground several inches away from the couch where your pup is resting. Say the “get off” command and make a sweeping hand gesture as your pet moves from the furniture. Saying the cue as your pup is jumping off the couch, you create an association between his movement and the command.
If your canine pal doesn’t budge even after placing the treat, you may need to help him get down. Try to pick your dog or nudge him but don’t push or throw him as this will instil fear. Once your pup follows your command, give him another treat and lots of praises to encourage the right behaviour.
3. Provide a bed
If you choose to keep your pup off the couch, make sure you give him another comfortable alternative. Provide a comfy dog bed close to where you hang out with your dog. You can make his bed even more special by placing a treat-stuffed toy to it. Soon, your dog will understand that delicious and happy things are just around his bed, which will make him want to lounge on it more.
Place the dog bed near the couch and train your dog to go to it. Start by placing some treats on the bed or rewarding your pup for putting his feet on the bed when you point it. Then, move to command your pet to sit or lay down his bed by saying, “Go to bed.” After your dog jumps off the couch, tell him to go to his bead instead.
Always acknowledge your pet every time he opts to sleep in his own bed rather than on the couch.
4. Use a positive interrupter
A positive interrupter creates a noise that will distract your dog from the couch without scaring or upsetting him. Once your dog jumps on the couch, you make a noise, and when he jumps off, give a reward.
Shaking a can of pennies or placing static mats to startle your dog whenever he attempts to jump on the couch may work. However, these things aren’t teaching your pet the “right thing” to do and will only make him afraid to go near the furniture. Dog training is about strengthening the bond you have with your pet and not scaring him into doing whatever you want.
5. Make furniture inaccessible
The best way to address a stealth sitter is to make the couch inaccessible in the first place. Keep your pup off the couch by placing some baby gates or empty laundry baskets around the edge of the furniture. You can also consider getting a pet-safe “scat mat,” which makes a shrill noise when your pet touches it.
Mats that bring a shock to keep your pup off the couch aren’t good as there’s no need to train using pain. Another inexpensive alternative is to use a car floor mat and place it upside down on your couch. The car floor mat’s gripping teeth on the bottom will make the furniture feel prickly and uncomfortable for your dog to lounge on.
What is the right way to train your dog?
There’s no preset rule on how you should be training your dog. It all depends on your own goals and what you’re willing to work on with regards to your pet’s behaviour. While other pet owners love to cuddle with their dogs on the couch, others may have expensive furniture or canines that shed incessantly.
If you don’t want your pup getting fur around your couch, give him his own comfy bed to lounge on. By giving your pet no reason to get on the couch, you’ll encourage him to act accordingly to what you want. Remember, train with positive reinforcement and not pain.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.