What about your dog-and-your-couch story? Is it really a problem if your dog is allowed on the couch? Or does it not matter at all? What if your dog doesn’t want to get on the couch, or once he gets on it, it never gets off? Maybe he’ll growl and snap when you want to sit on the couch yourself… and then what should you do?
According to certain schools of thought, it is absolutely not a good idea to allow your dog on the couch. It would be the case that dogs determine their mutual relationships by climbing in higher places. We should therefore see in a group of dogs that they always occupy the same position in height.
I have had several dogs at the same time for over 30 years. Sometimes one is on the couch, one on the pillow, one on the floor. And at other times it’s the other way around.
In canines in nature, high places do have a function; it is smart to place an animal with good sight and hearing in a high place, because this way it can warn the rest of the group in time in case of danger.
You’re the boss
So it used to be thought that if you let your dog jump on the couch, he thinks he is the boss in the house. Your dog on the couch would equate to rank issues, disobedience and a whole host of behavioral issues because your dog is on the same level as you!
Hmmmm… what about a car? Your seat is about the same height as the back seat. Does your dog become a danger to you if he is allowed in the car? And what happens if you put him on the table at the vet or groomer… oops, he’s even higher. This reasoning is therefore largely a ‘sandwich monkey’.
With permission at the bank
A choice you can make is that your dog can just go on the couch (if that’s not a problem and doesn’t cause any problems, nothing wrong with that, nice!), but that for a certain reason you prefer that your dog only on the couch. bank will come if you give him permission.
Permission may be that you put a certain blanket on the couch for your dog to lie on. If this blanket is not there, your dog will not lie on the couch. You can also choose a word such as ‘on’ (and of course also ‘off’). Some dogs still lie on the couch without permission. Not because they want to undermine your authority or be naughty, but because the couch is comfortable!
Not on the couch at all
Not wanting your dog on the couch at all can also be a choice. Maybe because you have a super-expensive luxury couch, or because your dog can get physically hurt if he jumps on the couch and off the couch. Also fine, provided your dog has another nice place to lie down within the group.
Don’t want your dog on the couch? Then it is very important that you prevent your dog from getting on the couch in the beginning. Do you wait until he’s on it and you go and correct him every time for that … well, that’s not so handy. He has already experienced how nice it is and he links the corrections to you and not to the bank….
My dog growls on the couch
This is a problem some owners encounter; you want to sit on the couch yourself and your dog growls at you. Or, worse, your dog bites or bites. Or he won’t do it to you, but to the visitor. Or to your children. This is a serious problem!
Your dog then suffers from possession aggression. He defends a nice berth, just like he would defend a bone or his food bowl. Most dogs that show possession aggression with a couch also show other forms of this behavior, such as baking envy, or defending toys and bones.
What should I do if my dog growls or snaps on the couch?
In any case, make sure that your dog cannot get on the couch for the time being. To prevent your dog from exercising this unwanted behavior. With a small dog, a puppy running along the front of the couch can help, with a large dog it can help keep your dog on a leash or barricade the couch, or leave your dog alone in the room for a while.
A long leash on a regular collar is a great help so that if your possessive dog does happen to be on the couch, you can safely escort him off.
Seek expert help with possession aggression! ‘Just tackle it’ or ‘punish it hard’ is not good advice…
My dog won’t get off the couch
You also have dogs that won’t growl or snap (thankfully!) but just don’t want to move when you sit on the couch yourself. This is of course a difficult situation, especially with very large, heavy dogs.
Fortunately, getting off the couch on command is something you can practice. You can do that with tasty rewards, a food bowl with food, or with toys. Place the treats, food bowl, or toys within sight of your dog. When your dog gets off the couch, reward. Then send him back to the couch. Then you wait again until he comes off, reward.
If this works very well and is easy, you can link the commands ‘on’ and ‘off’ to it.
Isn’t that dirty, a dog on the couch?
Yes, some people think it’s dirty. And your dog doesn’t know the difference between ‘now I’m dry and clean, so I can go on the couch, but not if I have muddy paws’. Hair also sticks to a fabric sofa.
I find the coziness of my dog against me on the couch far outweighs the disadvantages, but that’s personal. A lovely soft pillow, a basket with a thick rug, or your own small bench can be great options if you don’t want your dog on the couch.