How To Keep Dogs Off Furniture?
[The Complete Guide]

By kropek2021. • Updated July 1, 2021

Dogs love comfort as much as we do, and that’s most probably why you have trouble keeping your dog off the couch or the sofa. Your furry friends aren’t difficult; they just want to be comfortable. As a professional dog trainer, one of the most popular questions I get asked is “how to keep my dog off the couch?”. Some people manage to keep their pet off furniture for a while, or when they are around, but soon the progress is lost, and the pet reigns the space. 

If you’ve faced this problem for a while, you must have already found ( and tried ) tricks like placing tin foil where you don’t want the dog to sit. It might have even worked, but it’s not the permanent solution, and we know it.

So, what can you do about it? A couple of tested and proven methods, actually. After lots and lots of trials and errors with multiple dogs, I can tell you with confidence that the following are some of the most effective dog training tips to keep that couch of yours pet-free.

Discourage unwanted behavior from the start

Just as you would train a child for a new skill, you must train your dog since they were little and from the absolute beginning. Training your pet since they were a puppy makes your task much easier, as the lack of existing behavioral foundation aids your cause. While puppies can be challenging to train initially, it’s incredible how fast they can learn within a short period of time.
Not that training an adult dog is impossible, but it will require you to be much more strict and even more patient. If you have adopted an adult dog, then training them since day one is the best way ahead. While you want to give your new family member the much deserved time to adjust, take tiny steps to bring about desired behaviors. It need not be rigorous but should be consistent.

Redirect before the wrong action instead of punishing after

Unlike a human, a dog can’t understand that a behavior is unwanted very easily. The training will become much more manageable for both of you if you redirect them to where you’d rather have them, instead of simply getting them off your sofa or couch. This brings us to the next point.

Get your pet their couch or sofa or cushion. Basically, their own designated spot

Okay, it’s not as grand as it sounds. Not our regular one, but get the couch made especially for pets, comfortable and cozy, just the way they like it. 

If you already have a couch/ cushion for your pet and they still jump up the furniture, then it’s probably because it’s too far from your sofa. Why so? Because your pet might be settling on your sofa for comfort, but they do it also to be near you. If you’ve placed their couch in another room or just too far away, then they probably feel left out, and that’s why they don’t use it. Bring the cushion closer to you and redirect your pet to their spot. Give a treat whenever they use their place for as long as it takes to teach the behavior. 

Don’t pull or lift your pet off the furniture

Trying to lift the dog off the furniture might seem attractive when you’ve been attempting to instruct them far too many times, but it is not a good idea. Firstly, because your dog has to learn the behavior and you can’t keep lifting or pulling them off surfaces. Secondly, there are good chances of your pet getting aggressive if you try to force them. Your pet might have a particular attachment with the spot, and getting physical might turn real ugly, real quick. 

Use specific cues for desired actions

Using words or specific sentences to give a cue to your pet is the most convenient method and most beneficial in the long run. You can cue “off” when you want them to get off the furniture, “on” when you want them to jump on. Make sure you attach one action to one command, or the dog is bound to be confused. Allow them to process the order and take it slow. You will have to practice it hundreds of times, so be prepared for it. 

Train your dog to get up/ off the couch with the help of these steps.

  • Use a treat to direct them to wherever you want.
  • Repeat several times till the behavior is established.
  • Add a cue before the action as you direct them with a treat. (saying the word “off” before leading them)
  • Slowly using only the cue (not the treat) to get them off your couch or furniture.
  • When the behavior is established, reinforce the action once in a while by giving a treat.

Reinforce after they behave in a desired manner

As tedious as it might be, you have to make sure you acknowledge when the dog does the right thing, during and even a little after the training period. Your pet loves you and wants you to see when they do the right thing for you. Give a treat to your pet when they follow the instructions correctly and go out of your way to treat them, especially when they do it without instructions. Keep a bowl of treats ready at room temperature and watch as your pet impresses you. 

Training mode, always

Once you start training your dog, there’s no stopping. You have to be on your toes at all times. Being lenient will only cost you more days of training, so why not do it right from the beginning! You will have to be more alert when you’re in a different room and be ready to run in and out. Your pet will take time to understand that the rules apply even when you’re not in the room.

Universality

A dog might react to the same command in different ways if it is given in different situations, which is why you must train your pet to follow the instruction, no matter where you give it from. Try giving them the cues from different spots around the house while walking around, sitting on the floor, or from another room. Anytime you take them out for a walk or someone else’s house, use the opportunity to practice the cues. This will help the dog understand the universality of the rules and the commands. 

Consistency

If there’s one thing most important in this whole process, it’s the need to be consistent. If you aren’t even in training your pet to stay off the couch, there is no way you can expect them to learn the behavior. Just like everything else, consistency is the key to a pawfect training with your furry little friend.

Conclusion

Training your buddy is going to take time. The sooner you accept that, the easier it will be for both of you. In fact, with a laid-back attitude, you might even find yourself enjoying the process, and well, it’s all about those little moments, right? 

Avoid methods and tricks that include inducing fear in your pet, under all conditions and at all times! You want your dog to learn the behavior, not be scared of you, and it’s a hundred percent possible with safer, more friendly options given above. While scaring your dog off the furniture might work, it will create different problems in their behavior, and worse, they might stop trusting you. 

As a trainer, I can assure you, being gentle but firm is the best strategy to train your dog. You and your pet have a special bond, and they will most likely do anything for you, so just be patient and kind. And get training right now!