Keep Dogs Off the Couch
There is truth to the saying, “Happiness is a warm puppy.”
But to a dog, it would be more accurate to say, “Happiness is a warm couch.”
If you are, like me, struggling to keep your dog off the furniture, keep reading. I will be sharing 5 of my top tips for how to keep your dog off your furniture while you’re away.
But before we get to solving this couch-destroying dilemma, we need to first address our dog’s motivation for getting up there. In other words, WHY they do it.
Why Do Dogs Get On Furniture?
As you can imagine, properly diagnosing any one dog’s individual motivation for getting on the couch is a challenge.
There are a myriad of reasons dogs prefer our $2,000 couch to their $100 dog bed, but here is a list of just a few off the top of my head.
- Allowed to get on and/or sleep on beds or couches as a puppy
- Behavior was reinforced with cuddles and petting
- Lack more comfortable beds to sleep on
- Furniture smells like owners and is comforting for dogs with separation anxiety
- Furniture placed where dogs have a better view of the outside world
- Preference for pillows which are often lacking on dog beds
- Location of furniture in the home is preferred
- Following cat
- The dynamic between two or more dogs in the home may reinforce or encourage behavior
- An aging dog needs therapeutic support
- They want to
I want to provide a word of caution as you view this list and consider your own dog’s motivations.
What we DO NOT want to do is anthropomorphize, or give our dogs human qualities or characteristics in order to garner insight into their behavior.
In other words, say something like, “My dog jumps on my couch when I leave for work because he’s mad at me for leaving him home.” Or even better, “My dog gets on my bed at night because he loves me and wants to cuddle.”
Give me a break. Neither of these is remotely close to how a dog thinks or behaves.
Dogs are dogs. Not humans. And not your kids. They live in the moment and react to their environment and their people like a dog would. Not a human.
For example, you may be reinforcing your dog’s behavior of getting on your bed at night by not consistently preventing him from doing it.
Let’s take a look at this all too common, yet fictitious, example.
Every night at 2 am your big dog leaps up and curls himself into a giant ball at the foot of your bed happily snoring until your alarm goes off at 6.
While you rationalize his behavior by believing, “Aww, he must be lonely and want companionship and cuddles,” he takes pride in elevating himself to better observe his surroundings thinking, “I would rather she not hug me, but if that’s the price for entry, I will survive.”
I am not saying our dogs don’t love us. They do. But do not make the mistake of giving your dog’s behavior human motivations. Often the two are like comparing apples to oranges.
Understanding WHY your dog is jumping on your furniture is helpful, but not critical. The benefit of even asking this question is that it can help lead you to the very best solution for your particular dog and situation.
I will explain more about this in the following section…
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How Can I Stop My Dog From Getting On My Couch When I Leave?
The answer to this question is not an easy or straightforward one, but I will attempt to help guide you to some great solutions that will work for most big dogs.
Before I give you my top 5 tips or methods for keeping dogs off furniture (beds, couches, chairs, etc), I want to expand on the comment I made above about understanding your dog’s WHY.
Let me give you an example to illustrate how better understanding your dog’s motivation can lead you to the best solution.
Say you have a Great Dane who you rescued from an abusive situation. She is understandably shy and nervous in new situations and runs if she hears loud sounds. With her, I might consider home-based exercise, walks at times with fewer noises, and feeding out of a plastic versus metal bowl to avoid the loud clanging sound. These are small ways in which I would modify her environment to make it less scary.
All of these modifications come from observing her behavior and understanding the why behind them.
With that said, as I go through these 5 tips for keeping dogs off your furniture I will share when I would or would not use each one.
I am hopeful this analysis will lead you to a slobber-free sofa very soon!
Be sure to watch BOTH of the videos linked below as they illustrate nearly all of these tips.
**Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE, LIKE, and let me know you watched by leaving me a comment below the video!**
5 Tips For Keeping Dogs Off Furniture
1. Start With Training
This is where I would start for nearly all dogs and puppies. Particularly puppies.
As the saying goes, “If you don’t want your dog in your bed, don’t put your puppy up there.”
I actually have no idea if that’s a real saying, but my mom raised Great Danes and that is what she always told me.
It makes sense. Every second of every day you are conditioning your puppy and showing them what is and is not allowed in your home.
If you start early, you may never have to experience worn leather armrests from dog slobber or the thin sheen of invisible dog hair that magnetizes to your black pants when you sit down.
But you may be asking, “How do I train an older dog to stay off furniture?”
With older dogs, it really works the same way.
Be consistent. Use LOTS of treats and rewards for staying off and avoiding the furniture.
The best way I have found to do this is to use a clicker (after first priming it) and some tiny treats. You will click and treat every time your dog gets off, looks away from, or generally avoids your furniture.
You want to make it SO much more enjoyable to stay off than to get on the couch.
For a great illustration of how this is done, watch this video. I also have several blog posts on the topic of dog training and puppies that will be greatly informative for you if you have a new puppy.
Let’s move on to tip #2…
2. Go Non-conventional
Like the tv show Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader, we need to be smarter than our dogs and one step ahead at all times. Think creatively!
For example, if your dog is drawn to the pillows or a particular blanket on your couch, remove those items and replace them with something not as enticing.
For the last 7 years, we have used aluminum foil to deter Sulley from jumping on the couch. And for the most part, when he sees the foil roll come out, he heads to his dog bed.
The reason the aluminum foil works so well is that it’s shiny, loud, and a little unpredictable.
For very sensitive dogs, like Sulley, this may be all you ever need to do.
And for dogs with anxieties and fears like the Great Dane described above, I would be cautious. It may work to pull out the foil when the dog isn’t in the room, but I would be very careful not to create new phobias in a dog who is already scared of the world around them.
Each situation is different and only you know your dog best.
I would encourage you to continue the training as outlined above at the same time as you use the aluminum foil. This sends a clear message to your dog that you are happier when he’s on his own bed.
However, for many dogs, aluminum foil may not be enough of a deterrent. This is when you may need to add reinforcements in your battle for dog-free furniture.
3. Up the Ante
For those of you who are struggling with a persistent couch destroyer, you may have to up the ante a little.
Again, in combination with positive training, I have found adding something like adding a few pots and pans to the foil to be very effective at keeping dogs off furniture.
Obviously, this method is not going to work on a bed with you sleeping in it.
But for a couch, while you are away, aluminum foil with a few pots and lids strategically placed on the cushions will deter most dogs from getting up.
One word of caution here.
While most dogs have heard these familiar kitchen sounds and do not fear them, do not purposefully clang the pots and pans together to scare your dog. Normal sounds from carrying them are all you need.
And like the aluminum foil, I would be very cautious of using something like this with a dog who is already struggling with fears or phobias, particularly when it comes to loud sounds or particular areas of your home.
For more information and an illustration of the first three tips, watch the following video.
VIDEO: How to Keep Dogs off Furniture When You’re Not Home | Part 1 | 3 BIG DOG TIPS [EASY]
4. For the Determined Owner
Perhaps you have tried all of the aforementioned tips (and others), but still, your big dog insists on getting onto your furniture.
You are saying to yourself, “My dog gets on the couch when I leave for work no matter what I do to stop him!”
If this is you, look no further than the PetSafe Scat Mat Indoor Pet Training Mat!
After successfully implementing tips 1-3 above with our old couches for nearly 12 years, I thought we had Sulley trained.
While I didn’t love the look of the foil and pots on my couch, it was a small price to pay for the peace of mind while we were away from the house.
Unfortunately, with our new sectional couch, Sulley seems more insistent than ever.
In the month since it was delivered, we have caught Sulley on there at least four times that we know of. He scoots the foil and pans to the side and curls up beside it propping his drool factory on his new, very clean “headrest.”
The PetSafe ScatMat is super easy to set up and use and, so far, has been 100% effective at keeping our Mastiff off our new couch.
With 7 correction modes, the PetSafe ScatMat can be set to a tone-only correction or a low, medium, or high static correction with or without the tone.
The LCD screen on the controller shows the correction level, battery level, and a counter to show how many times your pet has stepped on the mat.
I know many people will read this and think that I am resorting to “shocking” my dogs. This could not be further from the truth.
The static correction at the lowest level is no different than what you feel when you touch something in a dry environment and feel a little static electricity. It doesn’t hurt, but you feel it.
To share our early experience using this method so far, we set our PetSafe ScatMats one time with the tone plus the lowest setting static when we left home for a few hours. When we returned we could tell by the counter that Sulley had jumped on the couch one time.
He hasn’t been on the couch again since.
Now I place the mats on the couch only when we leave or at night and have them set to tone-only. My hope and prayer is that he will never need the static deterrent again after that one time being surprised by it.
The PetSafe ScatMat comes in 5 different sizes to protect different areas of your home. We purchased two of the 60” x 12” sofa size to cover our sectional.
Here are a few of their other options:
|Size||Dimensions||Sample Pet-Free Zones|
|Sofa||60” x 12”||couches, large furniture, car hoods|
|Curved||50” x 12”||corners, stairs, trashcans, Christmas trees|
|Large||48” x 20”||furniture, doorways, closets|
|Medium||30” x 16”||small areas, corners, furniture|
|Strip||46” x 3”||counters, ledges, windowsills|
Depending on how you set it, I believe the PetSafe ScatMat can be used with even the most fearful dogs since you have the option for just the tone.
As mentioned above, I would use caution with the static correction with very fearful dogs. However, the static at its lowest setting would be less triggering than, say, the pots and pans.
If you want to see the PetSafe ScatMat in action, watch the following video with a very short review of our early experience with it. Junior sets it off with his giant head in the video and you can see what happens. 🙂
VIDEO: How to Keep Dogs Off Furniture While You’re Away | Part 2 | What We Think of the PetSafe ScatMat
5. Give up & Join the Dogs
There are times when the battle is just not worth it.
You don’t LOVE your dog getting on your furniture.
You wish he would obediently lay on the floor or on his pricey dog bed, but, eh, your couch is old and you do enjoy cuddling with your dog while you watch tv.
I get it and don’t blame you one bit. If I were single or married to a man who would allow such luxuries, I might consider this route.
But, alas, I am not.
If you decide to simply throw in your white flag of surrender, thankfully this does not have to mean all-out destruction of your furniture.
According to Paw.com,
“The PupProtector™ Waterproof Throw Blanket is a patent-pending blanket designed as a waterproof, machine washable, and great looking option to protect your furniture, car seats, dog beds, and other areas from pet hair, dirt, spills, and scratching damage all while blending seamlessly into your home decor.”
With plush faux fur on one side and ultra-soft microsuede on the other, these beautiful blankets come in like 20 different colors and several sizes to meet your needs.
If you are ready to give up the battle for dog-free furniture, I highly recommend getting a Paw blanket for an added layer of protection and cleanliness.
BONUS: Give Your Dog an Alternative
One of the best ways to keep your dog off of your furniture while you are away is to have plenty of adequate therapeutic bedding they can use instead.
Put it this way, if you are forcing your dog to make the choice between a cold tile floor or a soft warm couch in the winter, which do you think he’s going to choose?
My top recommended dog bed for big dogs is Big Barker.
Hands down the best quality, longest-lasting, and most comfortable dog bed on the market! We have several Big Barkers in strategic locations throughout our home and they are an absolute Godsend.
If you would like to learn more about Big Barker Premium Dog Beds, here are a few posts and videos I have published that contains everything you need to know:
- Big Barker Dog Bed Review: Overpriced Or An Investment?
- Best Car Travel Bed for Dogs? Big Barker SUV Dog Bed Review
- Best Car Travel Bed for Large Dogs | Big Barker SUV Bed Review | WORTH THE MONEY?
- Big Barker Dog Bed Review: Are They Worth the Money? YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED!
Will Your Dog Stay Off While You Are Away?
Have you tried in the past to train your dog to stay off your couch or to stop jumping in the bed with you at night?
What methods have you used in the past and how did they work?
I would love to hear your experience in the comments below!
If this is a very real struggle for you now, I pray one of the above tips helps you.
Because at the end of the day, we shouldn’t have to choose between a happy dog or clean furniture.
We can have BOTH!