Allowing A Dog On The Bed And Couch
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. Parents need to come together as a team to support one another and enforce the rules as a family. Otherwise, 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.
Here’s an example from my life. 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 no right or wrong decision for allowing or not allowing your dog on the bed or couch, just preference. You ultimately have to decide for yourself.
There is no inherent, danger, or problem allowing a pet to sleep on your bed or couch or be anywhere we are (exceptions are below). In fact, that’s why most people adopt pets, to begin with! A normal well-adjusted, well-trained, well-behaved pup would be a great companion to have on my bed or couch without any problem at all.
Reasons Not To Let Your Dog On The Bed Or Couch
- You have a puppy
- A senior dog
- Your dog’s a big shedder
- A filthy dog
- Your dog’s sick
- Your dog’s huge
- Your dog is untrained or has bad behavior
Your Dogs Hygiene, Age, And Medical Condition
Dogs that are filthy and go outside in the mud or sand all day, dog breeds that shed a lot, drool a lot or sick dogs may not be good candidates to go on your bed or couch for obvious reasons.
Additionally, if your dog is a senior dog or an older dog that has arthritis, luxating patella or any other medical condition or issues that affect a dog’s ability to jump on and jump off a couch or bed I would limit them going on a raised bed or couch.
Not many of us have our mattresses or couches on the floor. They are both typically raised a foot or two. And a dog has to jump on and off of them which affects a dog’s musculoskeletal system. If your dog is not a puppy, is very old, and doesn’t have medical issues it may be fine for them to jump on and off a bed or couch but if they can’t for any reason, either pick them up, use a dog ramp or do not allow them on the bed or couch, to begin with.
Caveat – The problem with picking your dog up and placing them on the bed or couch is that even if you do half of the work by getting your dog on your bed or couch, your dog will most of the time be the one who decides when to get off the bed or couch.
Dogs will jump off the bed or couch when
- You’re sleeping or not paying attention
- Your dog hears a sound
- Your dog sees something
- For fun
- Your dog has the zoomies (frenetic random activity periods)
- Your dog wants to switch positions or a different surface to sleep on
Your Dogs Age, Size, And Breed
Many of us don’t want to have a 150-pound dog sleeping on us. If your dog is an extra-large dog, a giant breed or a huge mutt, you might not want them on your bed or couch.
In addition to the size of a dog, the age of a dog is important. Puppies are typically not fully trained, teething, learning about potty training and their environment, and need constant attention. Puppies also do not have bones and cartilage that are fully formed and should not be stressed by large jumps.
On the other end of the age spectrum, senior dogs are more fragile. Also, some breeds have very fragile bones (looking at you Italian Greyhounds) and their bones break easily. Know your dog and know what activity or height of jumping is OK or dangerous.
Train Your Dog To Ask For Permission And Say Please
However, 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 than letting them decide for themselves and have free reign over your household. A dog that practices saying please by sitting and looking at you, and 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 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, making eye contact or patiently waiting, for you to invite them onto the bed or couch. That is a great habit for your dog and you to get into and will make your lives much more pleasant and safe when deciding to let your dog on your bed or couch with you.