Dogs On The Bed And Couch

(Updated 2020)

Occasionally I get called to a behavior or dog training client’s home and there seems to be tension in the human relationship. Often, it involves how to raise a well-behaved dog, what rules they should enforce, and what should be permissible in the household.

Just as with child-rearing, raising a puppy is not much different in that individuals need to come together as a team to support one another and enforce the rules as a family. Otherwise, your child or your pet will receive mixed messages and will not comply and will play different family members against one another just as a child would. If all of the people in the household are not on board with the behavior and training protocols, at best it could delay a dog’s learning and at worse it could make a dog’s behavior much worse.

When I was a child my mother and I used to let the dogs on the couch all of the time but my father never did. So only when my father walked into the room our dogs would all jump off. It was interesting to me because my dad didn’t have to say a word. They just saw him entering the room or sometimes they didn’t even have to see him, perhaps they heard him coming and they hopped right off the couch.

There is not a right or wrong decision for allowing or not allowing your dog on the bed or couch. Often times, parents will call me in as the arbiter in their dispute and are disappointed when I remind them that it’s their pet and there is no right or wrong in this situation, just preference. They ultimately have to decide for themselves.

There is no inherent, danger, or problem allowing a pet to be where we are. In fact, that’s why most people adopt pets, to begin with!  A normal well-adjusted pup could go on the bed or couch without any problem at all.

However, even if you want to let your dogs on your bed or couch I would get into the habit of practicing a deference protocol and inviting them up on the furniture rather then letting them decide for themselves and have free reign over your household. A dog that practices saying please by sitting and looking at you, that has good manners is a joy to be around.

It is important that you practice fear-free, positive reinforcement dog training with your pup and that he/she looks to you for advice, direction, and help when making decisions. To help cultivate a symbiotic relationship it is important to have your dog politely ask you, by sitting down, or patiently waiting, for you to invite them onto the furniture or to do most activities. That is a great habit for your dog and you to get into, not necessarily to quibble over who is right or wrong about letting the dog on the furniture.

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