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Should My Dog Be Allowed On The Furniture?

Written by FOTP Team

Updated

dogs on couch

There’s a new pup at Front of the Pack, and he just jumped up onto the office couch… what should we do?

Advice From Some Experts

Is it cool to let your dog cuddle up on the couch with you? As with so many things ‘dog’, there doesn’t seem to be a straight answer, so we’ve consulted the wise ol’ internet and extracted advice from some experts. What’s the consensus?

‘Bad’ behavior is subjective

To some people, a dog on the couch is a sign of bad behavior. But to dogs, it’s just a good place to nap (simple). It’s only ‘bad’ if their owner is trying to train them out of the habit. 

One rule for every pet? 

The cat usually bags the best spot on the couch. Nobody dares tell her off – in fact, we tiptoe around to avoid attracting her wrath. If felines are allowed on the couch, why not canines? 

Your couch, your rules 

The dog-furniture debate is highly personal, so the decision rests with you. Like scolding other people’s children, we should never scold another person’s pet. Pick a rule for your household; don’t inflict it on others. 

Do dominant dogs sit on the couch?

Most dog experts agree that dominance is an urban myth. Dogs, they say, aren’t seeking dominance – they might want attention, food, or company, but not power. Allowing them on the couch does not mean they think they’re king of the home – provided they are well-trained to listen to commands. 

Pros and Cons Of Letting Your Dog On The Couch

But we still haven’t decided whether to let this puppy curl up on the couch – let’s list the pros and cons!

Pros:

  • Company. Is there any better company than a dog when you’re alone, browsing FoTP blog on your phone or binging a Netflix series? Dogs are scientifically proven to reduce loneliness.
  • Photo opportunities. Sloppily sprawled next to the kids, they’re ready for candid cameras. 
  • It’s good for their joints. Your beautifully-upholstered couch has been made with firm stuffing, a softer topper and robust cover. It’s supportive but soft – ideal for dogs whose legs get a bit stiff. 
  • It’s good for your mental health. Our dogs provide endless comfort and cheer: a warm nose on your lap is highly likely to improve your wellbeing. (It hasn’t been studied yet, but it should be.) 

Cons: 

  • No space for humans. If you have a Great Dane, a Boxer, or several hounds, they will take up more space than a Chihuahua. So your decision will partly depend on breed. Sharing is an important lesson, and an obedient dog will respect your needs (… when you tell them, anyway). 
  • Fleas. Dog fleas don’t live on humans, but might burrow into the couch’s dark, warm corners – laying eggs which hatch and reinfest your animals. If you’ve ever suffered from a house filled with fleas, you might be reluctant to invite your puppy onto the furniture.
  • Dog hair. Dogs + couches = hairballs. If your dog is a heavy shedder, you might not want the fluff accumulating down the sides of your couch cushions. 
  • Muddy walks. Dogs who are allowed on furniture will go on furniture – even if they’ve just been swimming in the world’s muddiest river. If your dog has access to the couch while you’re out, think carefully about installing doors or gates to prevent mess during the winter months!
  • Falling off. If your dog is small or aging, be aware that they could roll over and fall from the furniture. So if they’re in the habit, ensure there’s a soft landing place or shut them out of the living room when you’re not there to monitor them. 

How To Stop Your Dog From Going On The Furniture

Good habits are built from patience and persistence. Whatever you decide for your new puppy, stick with it. That means stopping them from jumping onto the couch from day 1. If you do want to let them on the couch, it’s a great idea to ‘invite’ them up. Teach them to jump up when you pat the cushion. 

If your dog is allowed on the couch ‘by invitation only’, they might still think the couch is theirs full-time. Prevent unauthorized access by shutting them in another part of the house when you’re out, so they learn that they will be permitted on the furniture at certain times. You should expect to find your dog sprawled out on the couch any time you leave the door open if they’ve not been trained to wait for an invitation.

If your dog currently joins you on the couch and you want to stop them, start by making sure they have an appealing bed or crate. You could add an extra dog-bed in the living room alongside the couch, so they will feel close to you. Choose a super-luxe bed that they can’t resist!

When you start training, make sure that everyone in the household is supportive. 

  • Start by teaching your dog the basic command, “get off”. 
  • Don’t scold them for jumping onto the couch. (Negative training techniques are thought to DOUBLE the amount of time it will take you to train a dog!)
  • Instead, use rewards to incentivise them to jump down. (Dogs like praise, but they LOVE sausage. A high-value treat will train them faster!)
  • Give them affection and praise when they lie down on the floor. After all, they’re lying on the couch because they want to be near their best pal. A gentle rub with your foot lets them stay in contact with you.)
  • At bed-time, lock the door and tell your dog “go to bed” so they understand it’s time for them to sleep. (Watch for dogs who try to creep back to the couch – is it time they had a comfortable new bed?)

It will take time, but old dogs really can learn new tricks.