How to Get Dogs Off Furniture (Happily!)

You Can Have Your Couch Back Now

No matter how much you love your dog, you may not love fur, dirt, and scratches on your couch. Many owners who taught their pups to “come on up” now wish their adult dogs would just stay down.

"Make it cozy and I'll be there."

“Make it cozy and I’ll be there.”

Maybe you prefer your dog to only jump on the furniture when invited. Or, maybe you’ve established those rules, but you notice that whenever you’re not in the room, your dog knows the couch is there for the taking! (It only takes one piece of fur in the threads to know he “cheated” on you, right?)

The Good News.

It’s not so hard to get your dog off the furniture in a positive and loving way. You just have to change his motivation. Follow these 5 steps to get your couch back:

  1. Purchase a very comfortable dog bed, ideally with sides your dog can lean up against and curl into. The bed does not have to be fancy, just cozy.

    Great Bed by Dog Bed King USA

    Dogs love beds that have a side they can lean into.

  2. You’ll also want to purchase a clever bumpy mat, called an X-Mat. These mats are harmless, but uncomfortable to lie on, the perfect tool to assist with your goal. Get however many X-Mats you need to cover whatever furniture you want to be off limits. X-Mats are very easy to find and order online.  (You might have something around the house you can use instead. But, I like the way you can slide the X-Mat behind or under the couch when you’re in the room, and quickly pull it out and lay it down whenever you’re not around to supervise.
  3. The clever X-Mat is easy to find, easy to use, and very effective.

    The clever X-Mat is easy to find, easy to use, and very effective.

    When the bed arrives, make an excited fuss over how wonderful it is. Bring it near the furniture you want your dog to stop going on and place it down on the floor there. You are going to make this the new, exciting, and better resting place that your dog now chooses over the furniture.

  4. Rub your hands and feet on the resting areas of the new bed, so that your scent gets absorbed into it. Toss a few treats into the bed and then give your dog something delicious to chew by placing it right in the bed. For example, a stuffed Kong, a marrow bone, or any other treat you have identified as a safe favorite. It’s okay if your dog takes the chewable item from the bed to somewhere else, but place it in the bed to start with.
  5. You can also put an old t-shirt, sock, or towel with your scent on it in the bed. This is something that smells like you that your dog can chew on, play with, or cuddle into. However he decides to enjoy that item, always return it to the bed if he takes it out from there.

The final steps are simple, you just need to repeat these two:

1) Give your dog fun treats and chewies in his new bed once a day or more. Start out doing this when you’re in the room with him, then begin leaving him alone with his treat in his bed.

2) Whenever you are not on the couch, put an X-Mat down there, making sure to cover any part of the furniture your dog would normally like to rest on. It is critical that you cover the couch with an X-Mat every single time you are not there to take up the space or supervise your dog’s behavior. This sets up the ideal situation – the dog makes his own choice that his bed is the best possible place to be.

"Our bed is the place to be since puppyhood - accept no substitutes."

“Our bed is the place to be since puppy hood – accept no substitutes.”

Follow these steps with total consistency and within 2 – 6 weeks, your dog will have become addicted to his bed, and forgotten about the couch. After 6 weeks (max), you can put away the X-Mats and expect your dog to go to his bed as a matter of habit and preference. Enjoy your clean couch with a happy, comfy pooch at your feet!


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3 Responses to How to Get Dogs Off Furniture (Happily!)

  1. Jamie says:

    Hello! i have a slightly different problem. i have a pug who loves food. he is a scavenger and eats anything and everything! since he is a pug, i expect nothing less. but for the life of me i cannot figure out how to keep him off my kitchen table. we try to prevent him from getting up there but if there is a chair not pushed in all the way he jumps right up. he knows not to do it in front of us, and i cant figure out how to stop him while im not there. do you have any ideas? Thanks!

    • David Muriello says:

      Hi Jamie, This is definitely one where you should hire a trainer for private lessons. One basic approach is very similar to what you read in the article: Cease to make the table rewarding and make floors more rewarding. In other words, ALWAYS keep the table clean and start to leave food puzzle toys occasionally on the floors (random times and places) so that searching the former is a waste of time and the latter becomes the new behavior. I would also work on a Leave It cue using reward-based training methods so your dog learns impulse control and then practice it with the table when you are present to reward self-control. This is all a combination of management and behavior modification that can be effective with persistence and consistency. But, our guess is that the behavior of jumping on the table has a very strong history of being highly rewarding so like most behavioral change, there’s no quick fix! Go call a good trainer and good luck!

      • Jamie says:

        thanks a lot for the response, David! ive started the “leave it” command a week or two ago and he seems to be getting the hang of it. we still have to work on creating distance between me and the treat, and him leaving it when im further away. but i know it will get better over time. i will also start with the random treats around the floor, thats a good idea! if i don’t get the results i want over the next few months, ill be sure to call a trainer.
        thanks again, have a nice day!

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