Very few of us allow our dogs into every room of the house and onto every item of furniture that we own, but sometimes, keeping your dog from sitting or sleeping on the furniture that should be out of bounds to them can be a challenge! It might seem as if the path of least resistance is either to allow your dog onto all of your furniture or none of it, but it doesn’t have to be difficult to teach your dog exactly what furniture in your home is ok for them to sit on, and what is out of bounds. Setting and enforcing clear rules for your dog about where they are and are not allowed to sit is important. Even if your dog has free run of your home and is allowed onto all of the chairs and beds, it is a good idea to have at least one seat that is out of bounds for them, which you can offer to visitors without them having to fight your dog for the seat or get covered in their fur!
Read on for our tips about teaching your dog what furniture is out of bounds to them, and how to enforce this.
There are a multitude of reasons behind why dogs enjoy sitting and sleeping on human furniture, which can vary from dog to dog. In its simplest form, human furniture is (or should be!) a nice comfortable place to sit or sleep, and your dog might simply like being on it for this reason.
However, the chances are that your dog is keen to get up onto the furniture simply because it is where you are; dogs like to be close to their owners, and if you are not sitting on the floor or by your dog’s bed with them, they will probably seek you out when you are using your own furniture instead. Even if you are not on the sofa or bed in question at the time, your furniture will smell and feel like you, and this is appealing to the dog that loves you, even when you are not there.
If your dog is young or you have just got a new puppy, cuddling up with them on the sofa or having them jump into your lap is almost irresistible; but will you still be ok with that when your dog is older and larger? If you don’t intend to allow your dog onto the furniture when they are fully grown, start setting these limits while they are still puppies, or you will make things much harder for yourself down the line!
It is perfectly possible to teach your dog that they are allowed onto one particular chair or bed but not others, or that they are allowed onto every item of furniture except for one or two. It is generally people who have a mental block about their dog being able to distinguish between one piece of furniture and another, rather than that of the dog itself!
If your dog keeps trying to climb onto a chair that they are not allowed to use, tell them “no” each time and push them back down. When they instead seek the chair that is permitted, reward them and praise them. You can help to make this easier to understand for your dog if you take them to the chair that they are allowed onto and encourage them onto it each time that they try to go for the alternative.
Over time, your dog will automatically head for the permitted seat, or will possibly try their luck but know as soon as they get the “no” response to head for the other chair!
It is important that you make provision for your dog to sit and sleep comfortably, whether this be on a piece of your own furniture or on a dog bed that is exclusively for your dog. If your dog’s designated bed is too hard, too hot or cold, in a place they do not like or just uncomfortable, they will not settle there easily, and will seek out alternatives. Make sure that your dog’s own bed or chair is inviting, comforting and has pleasant associations for your dog, so that they are not reluctant to use it.
Try to make sure that they have a bed or a seat in the room that you use the most, so that they can relax and rest somewhere that they are allowed to, while still remaining close to you. Dogs dislike being banished to another room on their own when the family is sitting relaxing in another area of the house!
When your dog learns to keep off the furniture that you place out of bounds, reward them for compliance and praise them for making the right choice. If you find that your dog cannot be trusted to keep off the out-of-bounds furniture when unsupervised, you may need to consider closing them out of that room when you are out, while you continue their training and supervision when present.
If you return home and find that your dog is on an item of furniture that they should not be on, reinforce the “no” command, and move them to a suitable spot. However, if when you get home you can see evidence that your dog has been on the furniture while you are out but are no longer on it, ignore this behaviour as your dog will not understand why you are telling them off for something that happened in the past.
Eventually, when your dog has a good grasp of what is and is not allowed and reliably executes this every time, you should find that they are perfectly happy using the furniture designated for their usage, without any errors along the way! Ensure, of course, that you are consistent in your training of your dog, and do not confuse them by letting them onto the furniture sometimes but telling them off for the same thing another time.