There’s nothing I personally love more than cuddling on the couch with my dog while I watch my favorite TV show! But I understand that not every pet owner wants their pups to have full access to their furniture. Instead of deciding not to let your pet up on the sofa at all, you might want to consider teaching the commands “on” and “off” so that you can both enjoy your snuggle time when appropriate.
Here’s how to practice “on” and “off”. Invite your pooch onto the sofa by sitting on it and patting the cushion, saying “on”. Know that the couch is intrinsically rewarding because it is soft and comfortable, therefore your dog will not need a treat or petting to reinforce “on”. After a moment, ask your pup “off” by using a treat in your hand to lure him off the couch. Once he jumps off, release the treat and praise him with affection perhaps reinforcing with “good off!”. Your goal with the treats is to make your pet a believer that being “off” is just as fun as being up on the couch! Keep in mind that your praise and affection is a strong reinforcer as well. If your dog gets tons of love when he jumps onto the couch, he’ll always want to get up there! If you’d prefer he not jump onto your sofa, make sure to give all the love and affection when he is “off”. Your pup will notice that your kindness is associated with not being on the furniture.
Practice “on” and “off” drills for ten minutes each day. If your dog is off and starts to move his weight forward or try to jump onto the couch without being invited first, gently let him know not to do, then wait a few moments and remind him an invitation is required by asking him up to join you. When you are not able to keep an eye on him perhaps leave your dog in another room where he will not have access to the couch and be tempted to jump up without you being there. If you decide you would like not to have your pets on your furniture, please set up a dog bed in your living room so that Fido can be near you, enjoying your company. If he has a comfy bed of his own and you have practiced your “on” and “off” commands, he will be happy enough resting in his own place. Although in my home we are happy to let our pets have the run of the mill, what matters most is that your pets get to spend time with you. You are after all a family.
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