Should You Let Your Dog On The Couch?

We should always bear in mind that dogs are members of a very different species, and have very different needs and ways of associating things - and this is never more true than when talking about whether pets should be allowed on the couch.
Should You Let Your Dog On The Couch?
Francisco María García

Written and verified by the lawyer Francisco María García.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

For our pets, places to rest and be physically close to their owners are extremely important. But be warned. It’s a privilege that should be granted in small doses. If we don’t pay enough attention, we can end up humanizing our pets. So, be sure to consider the possible impact on their mental and emotional health before you let your dog on the couch.

Pay attention to your dog’s character

Some of us have dogs at home who suffer from anxiety issues. Maybe they are too attached to their owners. Perhaps they display aggressive behaviors, or any number of other issues. If your dog manifests dominant behavioral patterns, being allowed to take up a high physical position within the house can aggravate existing behaviors. And, this can sometimes happen without you even noticing.

On the other hand, your dog may display attachment issues. Maybe he or she is anxious when separated from you. Thus, allowing him to spend time with you on the sofa as well will only make the problem worse.

On the other hand, perhaps your dog is emotionally balanced and isn’t displaying any behavioral problems. Then, why not take the opportunity to nap peacefully together and let your dog on the couch? Well, if there is no problem it risks aggravating, it can be an enjoyable and cozy practice.

Some habits, such as insufficient physical and mental exercise or too many privileges, can lead to behavioral problems in dogs. And there are some simple things we can do to avoid worsening any behavioral problems. What’s more, we can prevent them in the first place. And, one of these is not letting the dog up on the sofa.  

Bear in mind: letting your dog sit on the sofa doesn’t necessarily lead to behavioral problems in the future. However, it can have a powerful effect on behavior, and should be considered with care.

Creating good habits

There is reason for taking such precautions. Consider this: dogs are not able to understand why the precious resource in question (in this case, the dog on the couch) is sometimes accessible to them and sometimes not. And a lack of clarity can lead to frustration and even aggression in a dog.

Dogs – much like humans – are creatures of habit, and have a good emotional memory. When they are puppies, we stroke and cuddle our dogs on the sofa or even in bed. Sure, this makes sense that they will expect the same as they grow up. This is especially true if they believe that the sofa is an appropriate place for them.  To prevent this, it’s best to show our dogs love and affection when they are on ground level. Also, this applies to when they are tiny pups. So, this means they won’t have any lifelong associations with the sofa or the bed.

Sometimes, it’s also the case that dogs simply get up on the couch because it smells of us. And, they want to be close to something that reminds them of us while we are absent.

The best way to scold pets

Maybe we do discover our furry friend up on the couch. Or, we spot them on any furniture in the house. Then, we must scold the canine immediately and make it get down straight away. However, this shouldn’t be done harshly. Instead, invite the dog to get down, and say ‘No’ in a forceful tone of voice. This is the best way to make sure the dog understands that getting up on the couch is not acceptable behavior.

It will probably be necessary to repeat this training many times. Bear in mind: patience and perseverance are the key to success. It’s also important to reward the animal when it stays on the ground. This enforces the idea that it is doing the right thing.

And if the idea is to get rid of any risk of the dog getting up on the sofa and causing an accident of some kind, it’s best to close the door to the room where the couch is. But if, for some reason, this is not possible, then the next step will be to take more extreme measures.

Covering up the couch

One potential solution that’s incredibly simple and effective is to cover the couch with a sheet or blanket sprinkled with a generous quantity of air freshener, cologne or a specially-designed product for deterring dogs. Dogs will try to avoid contact with the cover – and if they do go ahead and lie on the couch anyway, any trace or smell they leave will be eliminated. Within a few days, your dog should stop attempting to get up on the couch.

You can also try covering the edges of the couch with aluminum foil or empty cans. If the dog does try to climb up, it will encounter a scary noise that will deter it from doing so again.

And once we’ve managed to persuade the animal to stop climbing up onto the couch, we have to make sure we continue to enforce the rule consistently. Any change in our behavior will confuse the dog again, and make all the training worthless.

But, if none of the previous tips and suggestions have worked, the only solution left to us is to seek help from a professional dog trainer.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.