A lot of folks get a dog dreaming of cozy afternoons cuddling on the couch or warms nights of snuggling in bed. Before you invite Fido up for snuggle, stop to consider how he will interpret this liberty.
To a dog, all of the good things in life are simply resources to be obtained. These resources can include, food, access to space, toys, the best sleeping spots, affection and attention. Dogs are not people and do not place emotional attachments to these resources. It is as simple as this: whoever controls and has access to the resources is the leader. If you share your bed with your dog, you are sending him a very mixed message. “I want you to listen to and respect me but you can have all of my stuff equally.” This is not about being mean or a control freak. It is about thinking like a dog!
If your dog ignores your obedience requests, it is often because you have allowed him to think that he is your equal. Kicking your dog off the couch and bed is very powerful. Most people notice a profound difference in their dog’s attitude within a few days. I have seen this phenomenon over and over in my years of dog training.
Do not wean your dog off the furniture. For a dog it must be aways or never. There is no “sometimes” in clear, consistent leadership. Go cold turkey. If the dog gets up on the furniture in your presence, simple say, “Off”, followed by, “Good Dog”. There is no need to be angry or engage in a test of wills with your dog while it is breaking this habit. Technically your dog is just doing what it has always done. The rules have just changed. When you are not around to prevent the dog from getting on the furniture, block the cushions with items such as chairs, plates or anything you can think up. Close doors to bedrooms when you are not home.
Lastly, give your dog a comfy bed that she will want to retreat to. It is far easier to break the furniture habit if your dog has her own very comfy spot to sleep. For puppies, who are more likely to chew up their bed, purchase an old comforter at a second-hand store. Fold it up and wallah! You have a comfy bed that won’t break the bank if it gets chewed.
Photo courtesy of Carlos94117 at flicker.