Dog on the Couch

2016-09-15 06:00

Hi Susan,

I’M having trouble with my dog hogging the couch and chairs in our sitting room, and getting him off is an even bigger problem. I shout down and point to the floor, but he won’t respond. If I try to physically move him he resists my efforts and won’t co-operate. How can I handle this? Short of keeping him out of the room, is there a solution?


A foundation in basic training would have nipped this problem in the bud. Your dog would have learnt to respond to basic commands which could be applied to dealing with troubles as they arise, such as his occupation of the couch.

As your problem seems to be a long-standing one, you’ll need more time and patience to alter the habit than if your dog had only recently taken possession of the couch or chairs, but some informed basic training and perseverance should result in a solution for all.

A variety of comfortable dog beds are available in different designs and sizes. Alternatively, you could adapt an old duvet to this purpose. Encourage your dog to lie on it and to understand that it is his. Teach your dog to understand what a specific command means.

In this case, he needs to learn the meaning of the word “bed.” Clicker training can work marvels if you know how to do it. You could use this to train him to get onto his bed on cue. Alternatively, encourage him onto his bed with treats so that he associates the action with the cue-word “bed”.

Once you have this right, place his bed in a suitable place in the room where the couch problem arose, and with luck he might instead take to his bed. If his habit is deeply ingrained and he reverts to the couch, then repeat the exercise in the room near the couch. Part of the reason for getting onto the couch in the first place was that it’s more comfortable than the floor.

Also, your dog probably wants to be near you. So bear these points in mind while considering and working on the problem. If after all this your dog still persists in jumping onto the couch, secure a lead to his collar and gently encourage him off, saying “bed” and throwing a treat onto the bed. Whatever you do, avoid shouting and using force or tugging on the lead or on the dog if there’s resistance. He should have learnt that his new bed is just as comfortable, and feel ‘at home’ in it. If you know about T-Touches, these in addition to the clicker or treat-training could help encourage him to view his bed as a pleasing alternative to the couch. It may be necessary to repeat one or more of these exercises from time to time to establish or maintain the new status quo.

If you can’t get this right, the hands-on help of a reputable trainer should set you on the right course.

Susan Henderson© (accredited animal behaviour consultant) -

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