Home > Dogs > Health and Behavior > The Couch Debate
 

The Couch Debate

By Brandi Barker, MFA, CPDT
Updated: 2009-09-08 5:37 PM 2701 Views    Category: Health and Behavior
 
RATING THIS ARTICLE
Average Rating
No Rating  
Rate it :
TOOLS
Share |
Email Article
Printable View
Export to MS Word MS Word Export
Subscribe to Article Subscribe
Bookmark Article
We often see sheepish hands raised in the air in response to the question "is your dog allowed on the couch?" We would like to set the record straight that allowing shared couch time for most dogs does not mean your dog will assume ruler of your home.  However, if your dog has ever growled or tensed as you approach, the couch or bed should be off limits. If that has occurred, no matter how infrequent, call a professional trainer immediately to prevent escalation and injury.  For dogs who can happily share the couch or bed, it is important to set some ground rules so you do not inadvertently reinforce unwanted behaviors.
 
Set the expectation that couch or bed time are invitation only and continued lounging is earned for calm behavior.  This teaches your dog that the cozy spot next to you is a reward.  When using life rewards for responding to a cue like “sit”, you set clear expectations that good behavior earns good things.  Additionally, if your home is filled with guests, your dog will wait for permission to join you on the sofa.  However, you will create canine confusion if you only use this rule when friends or family are visiting.  Dogs respond to consistency, so the couch should be earned 100% of the time, not just when it is inconvenient for you to share it.
 
If the couch has been a free ticket item for any length of time, you will need to set aside multiple times a day to train a "wait" cue before signaling "up" or "couch".  You may need to manage the environment to prevent free will jumping by keeping your dog in another space if not supervised or place something less comfortable on the couch such as a plastic bath mat.  This will not hurt your dog but will make the couch less enticing. 
 
To train this behavior, start with your dog in a "sit" or "down".  Once in position, cue a "wait" as you sit on the couch.  If your dog is being good and calm, say "up" and the couch becomes the reward.  If jumpy, say “uh uh” and stand up to prevent jumping.  When your dog settles, try again.  Once on the couch, cue your dog to lay by saying "down", praise and treat if your dog remains in this position.  All praise and treats stop when your dog moves or gets up.  If your dog learns laying down nicely on the couch equals continued couch time and jumping makes couch time go away, you will soon share relaxing time together. 
 
Be consistent though, if you allow super jumpy just because you are tired, it confuses your dog when you do not allow it while eating or reading a book.  When that jumpy behavior occurs, we train the cue "off" paired with a hand target to communicate the need for movement off furniture.  It is more important to focus on “wait” for couch time than “off”.  It is easier for dogs to understand what they are supposed to do rather than what they are not supposed to do.  And, some dogs invent a fun game of “jump on the couch, jump off the couch”.   Do not forget, the time to train is when you do not need it so your dog knows the meaning of the words when you do.  
 

More Articles in Health and Behavior
What Bones Are Safe to Give a Dog?
How Do I Keep the Stains and Tartar Off my Dog’s Teeth?
How Do Vaccines Work
Canine Solar Dermatitis
Socialization
The Dog's Point of View
Salmon Poisoning - The Myth,The Legend, The Truth
Panting
Those Nasty Ticks and Diseases
Is Your Dog Stressed?
Practice Sun Safety for Your Dog
Demodex Mites Canine
Smelling Like a Dog
Creating Boundaries
How to Help Your Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety?
Dangerous Foods and Household Products to Dogs
Yearly Physicals Good for Pets
Dog Heatstroke Survival Guide - Know How to Treat and Prevent This Dangerous Condition
3 Common Ailments: Parasites, Obesity, and Paw Chewing
Is Dog Flu a New Threat?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Joint Health, Possible Actions
Treating Your Dog's Anxiety
How to Select Right Kong Toys for Your Dog
Motivation You Want to Give to Your Dog
How to Stop Five Bad Behaviors in Dogs
Helping Dogs with Allergies, Scratching and Itching
 
 
 Reprinted with permission from www.barkerbehavior.com.
 
 
0 COMMENTS Leave a Comment
There are no user comments for this question. Be the first to post a comment. Click Here
 
 
Search Article  
 
GET STARTED
Submit your Article Here

Have a good read you want to share with us? Start doing it now here.
Submit Your Article
RELATED ARTICLES
How to Help Your Dog Overcome Separation Anxiety?
Motivation You Want to Give to Your Dog
Salmon Poisoning - The Myth,The Legend, The Truth
Helping Dogs with Allergies, Scratching and Itching
How Do I Keep the Stains and Tartar Off my Dog’s Teeth?
Demodex Mites Canine
3 Common Ailments: Parasites, Obesity, and Paw Chewing
Canine Solar Dermatitis
Treating Your Dog's Anxiety
The Dog's Point of View
Those Nasty Ticks and Diseases
What Bones Are Safe to Give a Dog?
Dog Heatstroke Survival Guide - Know How to Treat and Prevent This Dangerous Condition
Panting
Socialization
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Joint Health, Possible Actions
Creating Boundaries
How to Select Right Kong Toys for Your Dog
Is Your Dog Stressed?
Is Dog Flu a New Threat?
How to Stop Five Bad Behaviors in Dogs
Practice Sun Safety for Your Dog
How Do Vaccines Work
Smelling Like a Dog
Yearly Physicals Good for Pets
Dangerous Foods and Household Products to Dogs
 
Top Articles
 
 
Popular Articles
 
 
Latest Articles