Letting a Puppy on the Couchby Kimberly Caines
When getting a puppy, it's essential to set house rules to keep your home intact. To your puppy, the couch might seem like a cozy lounging area, and whether you allow him to sit on it is a personal decision that all family members should be aware of. If the couch is off-limits, and one person lets your pet companion jump and lie on it, confusion can arise and all your training will be for nothing. To avoid this, make up your mind -- are you going to give in to your pup's couch-jumping fetish, or are you going to teach him right from wrong?
Pros and Cons
If you don't mind cleaning dog hair and muddy paw prints, grant your puppy access to the couch. It'll spare you the hassle of trying to keep him from jumping on it. Keep in mind that your puppy's couch-jumping fetish can turn into a hard-to-break habit, and when he's older he might get aggressive when you try to get him off the couch. If the couch is off-limits, you'll have to incorporate consistent training, supervision and effective tactics to get the message across to your pup.
Offer Alternatives or Compromise
You might be able to keep your puppy from jumping on the couch by offering him an irresistible alternative, such as a comfy dog bed on the floor in the same room. Your pup might immediately go to the bed or you might have to correct him when he gets on the couch by picking him up putting him on his bed. Give him dog treats or toys when he's on the bed so he associates it with pleasant consequences. If you don't mind your furry friend being on the couch, use a slipcover or sheet to protect it.
There are various booby traps and scare tactics you can use to teach your puppy not to get on the couch. Making the couch inaccessible or uncomfortable by putting boxes or an upside-down carpet runner on it might keep your pup's paws on the floor. A pyramid of empty soda cans on the backrest of the couch can also help. When your pup jumps up, the falling cans might scare him off the couch. Spraying the couch with a commercial dog repellent is worth a try and might make your pup think twice about lounging on it. Alternatively, use a baby gate to block your pup's access to the room with the couch.
The "Off" Command
If you want to remove your pup from the couch in a moment's notice, teach him the "off" command. Sit on the couch, tell you puppy "up," and motion him to jump up. Praise him when he obeys, and then lightly push your pup away and say "off." You might have to pick him up and put him on the floor at first. When his paws are on the floor, give praise and dog treats to reinforce the good behavior. Repeat this several times, and eventually, your pet companion starts understanding the meaning of "off" and will get down on his own in anticipation of the possible treat and extra attention.
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