Jumping on the couch and other furniture
You will have to make a choice if you should allow your dog to access your couch and other furniture. If you have a big dog this is a big deal. There are two aspects of this. One is your own convenience, you might have to fight for space and you will get fur on your couch. Then there is also the matter of dominance. You have to be the master of your dog and it must be you who allows your dog access to the couch. This is very important for creating a sane relationship between you and your dog.
It is a pretty big thing to allow your dog to access what is your private domain, your couch or your bed. Especially since this is a one-way issue. You allow your dog into your private domain such as your couch or your bed, but when did you ever invade your dog’s turf and snuggled in to take a nap in his bed? It is important to be aware of these things when making the decision to allow your dog access to your furniture.
If you do decide to allow him this access then you have to make sure to compensate it in other ways. You must make sure that YOU are the His master and not the other way around. If not, you risk that he gets an over inflated sense of self importance and he might decide that HE is the master of your houshold.
This is especially important when your dog is still a puppy. When growing up he forms his idea on what is appropriate behavior and his own ranking in the hirarchy of the family is established. So generally speaking, you should forbid him to access the furniture until he is at least 5 or 6 months old.
If your dog is allowed to jump onto beds, couches and armchairs (all comfortable places for any dog) whenever he wants to, already from the start, then he will see it as his right to be there. He will not see it as a privilige and this will make him feel equal to you and give him a false view of his own ranking. As a dog owner, your dog must clearly know that you are the boss and that you are the one giving him to right to to access the couch or other furniture
To avoid attitude problems from developing early on (especially in adolescence) the best thing to do is to keep the puppy humble. This means that he must appreciate being allowed at your level and not take it for granted. The number one rule here is consistancy. You must be conistent. Once you have decided to allow your dog to do something (such as being on the couch or bed) you must stick to your decision. Otherwise you have no way of enforcing it. You must be consistent!
If you allow him to up on the couch but not the bed, then he must never be allowed on the bed, not even for a little moment. You must make sure to enforce this and also that nobdoy else in the family invites him up on the bed if you have forbidden it.
So your dog needs to know what he can and what he can’t do. If rules are changed simply due to human impulses then this is not fair on your dog. He will get confused. He can not tell the difference between your new couch and the old worn one. He will not know the difference between clean or muddy paws. So if you take out your frustration on your dog because of this then it will be confusing to him, he will not understand why you are upset and he will get nervous. So a good idea is simply to impose limits. If you do decide to let him up on your furniture, teach him that he can not jump up whenever he wants but he must wait for an invitation from you.
This is a pretty easy thing to do. Just pat the seat next to you and in a friendly and happy to tone you say – up you go, or come here. For most dogs this is all you need and soon he will be up before you have even finished the sentence.
You then need to teach and enforce the “off” command. This way you will be sure that you could get him down if you need more leg room or if you have visitors. It will also teach your dog that being on the couch is a privilige and not a right.
As you could expect, most dogs are less enthusiastic about obeying the off command than they are the up you go command. Sometimes you might have to use physical force to get your dog of the couch. This is effective and your dog will understand it, it is not inhume.
Here’s what you can do:
– Get him a comfortable alternative. If you ask him to get of a comfortable couch to lie on the hard cold floor he will not respond with any enthusiasm. By giving him a comfortable bed you will make it easier for both of you. You can either make one yourself, out of towels, pillows or and mattress or buy one at the petstore, they have beds for dogs of all sizes.
– When it is time to make him jump down, say in a calm voice “off” or “get down” with your arm pointed at the bed. Stay calm, do not raise your voice.
– If he does not respond immidiatelry, do not repeat the command. Maintain eye contact with your arm still pointing at the bed, . If you have a perceptive and attentive dog, it might be enough to simply intensify your expression (such as raising your eyebrows or tightening your mouth).
– Wait for 30 seconds (it will feel far longer!).
– If there’s still no response after 30 seconds, then you can use physical force to get him off.
How to physically enforce your dog
A simple method that many owners use is simply dragging the dog of using its collar. It will work (if you have dog of a size you can handle) but it is not recommonded. The reason for this is that you allow your dog to demonstrate his refusal to obey you. He can struggle and strain against you and this is counteractive against you being the leader. Remember, your dog must respect you and should not struggle against you and your commands.
There is a more effective way to do this. Make him jump off himself by making the bed (or sofa, chair etc) uncomfortable for him. This is how you do this: You slide your hand (palm facing downwards under his rear and slowly slide your arm forwards. By using your arm as a lever you gently and slowly pry him off the couch. Doing this will raise his bottom more and more and make it uncomfortable to stay – This way he will get off the sofa himself.
This is less physically demanding and more effective than dragging him off by his collar. By doing this you are also strongly enforcing his obedience which is good for your role as an authority.
Where to learn more
If you want to learn more, I have a couple of suggestions for you. You can for example check out Secrets to Dog Training which is great guide on both dog training, canine psychology and dog health. You can find my review of this book here.
If you prefer to watch videos and learn this way, I can recommend the Online Dog Trainer which is a video based online dog training system. Very effective and easy to use with outstanding support if you need help. Here is a link to my review of the Online Dog Trainer.
If you have any comments or would like to share your own thoughts and experiences of Secrets to Dog Training, feel free to post them below.