Pets and Furniture: Everything You Need to Know

(Photo: Under Lock and Key Blog)

(Photo: Under Lock and Key Blog)

We love our pets and want them to be close to us, but there are just some places that need to be off-limits. In order to understand how to teach your pets to stay off furniture you must first understand why they climb onto it. You may have heard that dogs like to be up on high places as a way of claiming higher rank. This is a myth! Odds are that your couch or bed is the most comfortable spot in the room. Why wouldn’t they want to lie there?  If you want to keep your furniture pet free you can try the following:

  • Keep a dog or cat bed in every room with furniture that your dogs or cats like to sleep on.  This will encourage them to sleep on their beds rather than on your couch.
  • Never let a dog on the furniture that resource guards.  If your dog growls at you as you sit next to him or as you try to move him off, do not allow him on that piece of furniture again until he learns to share it.
  • Reinforce your dog for lying on his dog bed by feeding him delicious treats when he lays there.
  • Newly adopted dogs thrive on boundaries in their new environment so don’t feel guilty about having consistent rules for where they can and cannot sleep
  • Never grab your dog’s collar to get him off the couch. Targeting is a great, force-free way to teach your dog where you want him to be. Watch my video on how to teach the “touch” cue here:
  • Never use shock collars or mats to keep your dogs off the furniture. The stress, fear, and pain they will cause can actually create entirely new anxiety-based behavior problems that can be very hard to change.
  • If your pet does jump up on the furniture teach him to “off” using a reward of a treat or toy for his compliance.  Make the ground a much more pleasant and fun place to be by giving your pet comfortable places to sit or lie on and toys that he can play with in these locations.
  • When training your pet to stay off the furniture, cover it with a plastic cover, blanket, or bed sheet. Your pet is going to make mistakes during the training, and you want your furniture to be protected from potential damage.
  • If you have a cat that likes to claw your furniture, the first step is to add more scratching posts to the rooms where he likes to scratch. Cats prefer high, vertical posts. Adding catnip to the post can encourage scratching.
  • You can try double-sided tape or aluminum foil on furniture to discourage cat scratching.
  • Your best bet is to prevent unwanted behavior before it begins. If you’re bringing home a new pet, establish boundaries as soon as you bring them home, and be consistent with those boundaries.
  • Make furniture inaccessible when you’re not home and your pets are in training. Keep your pets in a pet proofed area and set them up for success.


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