All dressed up, ready to hurry out the door, and waiting. Sitting down to wait for another few minutes until it was really time to head out, I knew I was nervous already. Big events make me that way. Of course, when I stood up to check my look in the mirror one last time before heading out, I realized the line of dog hair running down the back of my leg and all over the seat of my pants came from the sofa. He knows he’s not supposed to be one the couch, but of course, he’ll do what he wants out there when I’m not home. Using packing tape to remove every last strand of dog hair, I vowed that I would figure out how to keep the dog off the furniture the instant I came home.
Training my Dog to Stay off the Furniture
There’s a lot of advice out there, which I needed because when I opened the door that night, I heard him hop down from his favorite resting spot while I am gone and thump his way across the floor. My general remarks these last few weeks, telling him “no” and that he’s a “bad dog” had been completely ineffectual. Time to get serious.
I tried a few different things at first. I sprayed the couch with Bitter Apple, but that didn’t do anything more than keep him from licking while he rested. I stayed up all night one night to yell at him every time he got up there, but he was able to wait me out, somehow sensing that I wasn’t asleep. Pretending to sleep had actually put me to sleep in the wee hours of the morning and he was more than comfortable sneaking off the furniture before I awoke.
Finally, I found some good advice. We started by putting a broken down box on the sofa at night when we went to sleep. The very next day it became obvious that we were going to have to add another one to the stuffed reading chair not far from it. Thus, for weeks, we lived with a couple of boxes strewn across our furniture. It was far from attractive, but he wasn’t able to settle in around the boxes, and thus it seemed to be working.
In reality, we did this for about a month, and then we downscaled to one DVD case for each cushion of upholstered furniture. For awhile this worked so well that we scaled down once again and just got into the habit of leaving the various remotes on the furniture. This failed. He figured out that he could just climb up there and move the remotes and still make himself comfortable. So far, this was still the best advice we had found on how to keep the dog off the furniture.
We started back at square one and repeated the process. Then we got an idea. We are probably not the only people who ever came up with this idea, but we were proud of ourselves nonetheless. I had heard of someone who used balloons to keep their dog down off the furniture. He just filled regular balloons with regular air and this kept his dog out of the living room. I didn’t want to live with balloons in my living room, and I wasn’t even sure our pooch was afraid of balloons. He might just chase them and eat them. But he was afraid of loud noises.
We took a small piece of chain link and placed it in an empty soda can. Then, we went back to the remote method, except that we tied a string to the soda can and placed it barely balanced on the edge of the end table. If he moved the remote to make himself comfortable, BAM! The soda can dropped and made a loud noise. This BAM! woke me up several times in the middle of the night the first few days, but after that, the can and the sofa remained untouched. After about a week, we noticed that he was associating the remotes with the loud noise. He hasn’t gotten beck on the couch ever since then.
There are much easier ways to deal with the issue of how to keep the dog off the furniture, but they called for things we had never done before and we weren’t convinced of their fairness. Had he been a crate trained puppy, we probably would have just re-introduced the crate to his daily life. This is a simple solution and a solid argument for crate training. Placing a dog gate across the living room doorway would have also solved the problem, but we have another dog that doesn’t creep on the couch, but needs to go through the living room to get to the office to lie in the sun to soak his aching bones.
We have been careful about not sending him mixed signals. He is not allowed on any of the furniture, including the bed even when we are sick, afraid, lonely, or sad, despite his ability to comfort us. He is not permitted to place his paws on the couch for any reason, nor is he permitted to get on other people’s furniture regardless of their efforts to call him up.
When trying to figure out how to keep the dog off the furniture you have to consider your own behavior, what is fair to the dog, and any other dogs in the house. We were able to develop a reasonable solution and retrain the dog within two months. Now, being dressed up doesn’t mean standing awkwardly in the doorway waiting for the exact right time to leave. I can sit on the couch and am free from the coating of dog hair that once plagued me.