Is your pup a couch potato? Read on to learn how to train your dog to stay off the couch and how to teach her when lounging on the furniture is welcome.

Maybe your dog’s a bed hog and double lattes are the only thing standing between you and sleepwalking. Or, perhaps you have a new baby, a new sofa, or even a new pair of pants that you’d rather not coat in fur or slobber. Whatever the reason, if your dog has equal access to all of the furniture in your home, there’s a furball in your near future. Changing your pup’s furniture privileges can be done, but keeping the consummate couch potato off said couch isn’t for the faint of heart.

It’s probably too late, but if you have a new puppy or even an older dog that’s new to your family, it’s a good idea not to welcome him onto the furniture. This way, you won’t need to break any habits if he starts hogging the sofa or drooling on the throw pillows. You know where this is going.

Learning to Love the Floor

For dogs who already enjoy the comforts of home furnishings, learning to love the floor may take some time. For the best chance at success, make sure everyone in the family is on board with the new rules. Just one softie gives in to those pleading eyes and you’re back to basic training again.

To help spare you our rookie training mistakes, the Woof Reporters called in our expert trainer, Mike Wombacher. Follow along with his tips to help reclaim your recliners in no time.

Off is the New On

  • Either choose to eliminate all furniture rights for your dog or teach him that he’s allowed up only with your invitation and that he must get off the moment you command it. You can even teach him that he’s only allowed up on certain pieces of furniture, of course, also dependent on your invitation.
  • If you choose one of the latter, eliminate all furniture rights altogether in the short term and use this as the default position. You can reintroduce furniture rights with your invitation once this is solidly understood.
  • Access to sleeping and resting areas can be controlled in a number of ways. You can command your dog with a firm “no” or “off the furniture” every time he begins to get up on a piece of furniture, closet the doors where he likes to make himself at home or simply keep your dog leashed to you in order to deny him access to these places. Reward his good behavior for reinforcement.
  • For another approach, you can train your pup to “sit” or “stay” by saying these commands while sitting on the furniture. This will help reinforce your dog’s position off the furniture. If he jumps up, immediately put him back on the floor while repeating “off.” After many repetitions, your dog will get the hint and accept his new spot at your feet.

Invitation Only

  • Once your dog has relinquished furniture rights for some period of time, you can choose to reintroduce them to him. You can teach your dog to come up on “invitation only” basis.
  • The invitation can be a simple phrase such as “c’mon up,” accompanied by a pat on the sofa. You can also do what I do. I have a special blanket that I lay on the sofa when I want the dog up with me. This keeps her from getting any dirt on the furniture and it’s also a visual cue for permission to come up. When she sees the blanket come out she knows she about to be invited up. I still say “c’mon up” and pat the blanket before she’s allowed up just to be sure that she doesn’t confuse the blanket with others.
  • By controlling the behavior in this way you can control access to your furniture while being able to snuggle on the couch as well. In short, allow your dog to have access to the furniture on a “sublet” basis only and you can have your cake and eat it too.


The Scoop:

Thank you to Mike Wombacher from the Bay Area’s Dog Gone Good Training for the tip. See more tips and information about his two dog training books.

Just for fun – The Top 10 Tips for Sleeping with a Dog

Originally published November 2009; reviewed and updated October 2017.