Reasons Dogs Won't Jump on a Couch

by Chris Miksen
    With a bit of help, your pup might become a permanent fixture on your couch.

    With a bit of help, your pup might become a permanent fixture on your couch.

    PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

    Some dogs don't have a problem with stealing your seat on the couch and sitting there for the next three hours. Others view the couch as the harbinger of terror or pain and can't bring themselves to even try and climb on up. Whatever the reason, you can usually fix your pup's aversion to the couch with a bit of coaxing.

    Past

    If you adopted your pup, his previous owners may have trained him to stay off the couch or booby-trapped the area so he's scared to even attempt to climb onto your cushions. If he was ever physically or verbally disciplined when his owners caught him on the couch, he has no idea that you won't do the same, so he figures it's safer to just keep all four paws on the floor. If he has it ingrained in his head that the couch means bad things, it's going to take a little while before you can persuade him that it's really OK to join you for a bit of rest and relaxation.

    Puppyhood

    Puppies are strange little creatures. One second they'll brave the scary stairs and the next they'll refuse to even consider jumping onto the couch, as if it was a frightening monster that will eat them. If your little guy is still in his puppy stage, he probably doesn't have the confidence to jump on up yet. As long as you're socializing him, teaching him basic obedience and using positive reinforcement, his confidence will grow and he'll eventually give the couch a chance.

    Health Problem

    If your pooch was a couch potato his entire life and has suddenly given the couch a cold shoulder, he's probably dealing with a bit of pain, especially if he's getting up there in age. Hip dysplasia, arthritis problem paw pads, spinal issues and so forth can make jumping extremely painful, so it's much easier and comfortable for your dog to remain low to the ground. If something's bothering him, he may also limp, avoid the stairs, appear lethargic and, if the pain is too bad, eat less.

    Coaxing

    Persuading your little guy to snuggle with you on the couch requires patience, treats and sometimes a ramp or set of doggy stairs. If your pup seems hesitant to jump up but doesn't appear to be in any pain, try to coax him up with treats or his favorite toy. Place the toy or treat in the middle of the couch and pat the cushion softly, urging him to jump up in a gentle voice. Even if he only pushes himself up high enough to grab the treat, give him lots of praise and attention. Next time, slide the treat a little further away. You're associating the couch with something good, so eventually he'll realize there's nothing to be scared of.
    If your pup is dealing with a medical problem, set him up with a ramp or doggy stairs. You may have to lead him up the stairs or ramp with a treat the first few times. If the problem hasn't been diagnosed, make sure you visit your vet as soon as possible.

    Photo Credits

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    About the Author

    Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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