Figuring out how to keep dogs off the couch can be tough - especially for new dog parents or those who have added another furbaby into their home. If you're the kind of family that doesn't want dogs up on the couch (whether it's because you wear all black or have really nice furniture), there are certainly ways to keep dogs off the couch - and bed, if you want them off of there, too.
We don't judge owners who let dogs sleep in their bed (many of us are guilty of that as well), and it's understandable if you want your dog to cuddle up with you on the couch. But many dog owners believe their pup belongs in their own dog bed and not on human furniture. Dogs love to go outside, and some owners would prefer they keep their potentially dirty paws planted firmly on the ground and not stomping all over their furniture and bedding.
There’s no right or wrong answer about where your dogs are allowed to go - it’s simply a matter of personal preference. If you want your furkid to stay off the couch and your bed, then you’ll find the tips that follow to be really helpful. Here's how to keep dogs off the couch (and elsewhere).
How to keep dogs off the couch and furniture
If you and your pooch have a tight bond, it's likely that they wan tto be wherever you are. And that's a great thing - it means you have a great relationship! However, if you want to keep your dog off of the furniture, it might seem taxing if they have a tendency to be your second shadow. Perhaps they've jumped up on the couch before you've gotten a chance to even lower yourself onto it, or they just get up there when you're relaxing and are caught off-guard.
There’s nothing wrong with letting your pooch share the couch with you if that’s what you want, but if you’d rather they didn’t have access to the furniture, there are plenty of ways that you can lovingly help teach them their place.
1. Start off on the right paw
Dogs need training to help teach them appropriate boundaries. So the sooner you start, the easier your life is going to be, as you can instill boundaries in them at a young age. Consistency around any ‘no dogs on the furniture’ policy is crucial, so if you live in a multi-human household, you’ll want to make sure everyone is on the same page - or they could be undoing any work you've done.
It can be tempting when you first bring home a new dog, especially if they’re a puppy, to let them curl up beside you for comfort, but it’s best to start to keep them off from the beginning if you intend to keep it that way for their entire life. If you make it clear from day one that the couch and all other furniture is off limits, your dog won’t know any different.
2. Give them a place of their own
If your dog has a great space of their own, the couch will seem like a downgrade. Invest in one of the best dog beds that your budget allows for, knowing that the more comfortable it is, the less interested they'll be in climbing up on the couch.
When choosing a dog bed, steer clear of anything too flat and instead go for something that has a cozy feel. Donut-style beds and luxury dog beds with a bolster can be a great choice as these have sides that your pooch can rest their head against - which is often half the appeal of your couch!
Make sure you keep the bed close to where you are as this will make your dog feel like they’re still very much a part of the family, and furnish it with a nice blanket if you want to make it more homely. Popping a few of the best dog toys in there will also help make their living space feel more appealing.
3. Teach commands
So you’ve come home and busted your guilty hound blissfully pushing up zzz’s on your couch and you want to stop it from happening again? Commands are going to be your best friend.
They key commands you want to teach your dog are ‘off’ and ‘go to your bed’ and when your dog follows through you want to make sure you positively reinforce their good behavior. Training dogs with treats is the easiest way to do this as it’s a well known fact that our furkids are massive foodies!
When you issue the commands ‘off’ and ‘go to your bed’ it can be helpful to back this up with a sweeping gesture that makes it clear what you’re asking your dog to do. And remember to offer one of the best dog treats as a reward every time your pup follows through. They’ll quickly learn to associate going to their bed as an action that gets them a tasty morsel and before you know it, the couch will be forgotten!
4. Block access
In the early stages of teaching your dog that the couch and furniture is a no-go zone, you’re going to need to adopt a good management strategy to make your furniture as inaccessible to your pup as possible.
While that may be as simple as shutting a door to a particular room, there'll be lots of occasions where you’re not able or not wanting to do that, so here are some other techniques you can use to make sure your couch and furniture are off limits.
1) Use a baby gate
Not just for human babies, baby gates are also perfect for keeping your pets out of certain spaces. Place one at the bottom of the stairs or use it to block the entrance way to a room.
Baby gates come in all sizes and if you have a medium to large breed, you can even get one that has an extra small door that still lets any cats in your home come and go as they please - which will definitely keep Garfield happy, but Odie perhaps a little less so!
2) Try a training mat
We particularly like the X-Mat Pet Training Mat which can be placed on your furniture and has small pointy nubs that are incredibly uncomfortable to sit on. It’s a great deterrent that will stop your pooch from hopping up on the couch.
3) Invest in a Couch Defender
This one is great for when you’re going to be out of the house as it completely blocks access to your couch. The Couch Defender has a rectangular design that will take up the full length of your couch and when it’s not in use it folds down for easy storage.
You can also try other simple tricks like placing a laundry basket upside down on your furniture and if you have a small dog who likes to quietly stare out the window and watch the world go by, consider purchasing a ‘cat sill’ that they can sit on.
5. Avoid aversives
If you’ve been hunting around for ways to keep your dog off the couch and furniture, it’s likely you’ve come across aversives. It’s not uncommon for pet parents to use scat mats or shock collars as a way of deterring pets from engaging in unwanted behavior but we recommend avoiding this kind of training technique.
The problem with using vibrations and shocks is that it can actually end up working against you and creating new problems. Some dogs find aversives to be frightening and it can make them develop a fear of furniture and loud or unexpected noises.
If your chosen parasite prevention method is to use one of the best flea collars for dogs, then using a shock collar could cause your pup to refuse to wear it because they’ve associated collars with something unpleasant.
Remember, positive reinforcement in the form of treats and praise is a much easier and more pleasant way to train your dog. Like us, our canine companions learn best when we reward them for good behavior instead of punishing them for bad behavior.
How to keep your dog off your bed
Many pet parents find they have no trouble keeping their dog off the couch but when it comes to their bed? Well, that’s a whole nother story! If you find your pooch is constantly wanting to clamber under the sheets with your or laze about on top of the duvet, there are a few tips in addition to the ones above that can help.
Learning how to crate train a dog is one of the best ways to make it clear to your pup that your bed isn’t for sleeping on. You can either keep their crate in a separate room or, if they’re prone to separation anxiety, pop the crate in your bedroom so they’re still sleeping nearby.
Once you’ve invested in one of the best dog crates, pop their dog bed, blanket, and toys in to create a cozy space. For an added sense of security you can also drape a blanket over the top.
Use the ‘off’ command to teach your dog that your bed isn’t for them. While it sounds counterintuitive, start by getting your pooch to jump up on the bed (if they’re already doing this then you’re not teaching them any bad habits!) and then point to the floor and say ‘off’. Once they’ve done it, reward them with a treat.
Make your bedroom floor a fun place to be. Invest in a few of the best rope dog toys and engage in a game of tug-of-war. Sit on the bed to do this but ensure your dog remains on the floor. This will teach him that the bed is somewhere for you to sit but not for him.
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.