If you have a “sofa dog,” you know how nice it can be to curl up with your canine in front of the TV. No doubt, your dog loves it, too. If you’re away, he may also find comfort on the couch because it smells like you. But are sofa privileges a good idea? Aside from the extra wear and tear on your furniture, there are a few behavioral factors to consider.
Dogs are “pack” animals which means they think of their human family members as pack mates. When you allow your dog on your sofa or bed, instinct tells them they are equal or above their humans in the pack hierarchy. For some dogs, this can lead to territorial behavior. In fact, many pet owners encounter dogs that growl and snap when they’re moved off the sofa.
Of course, this is not the case with all “sofa dogs.” But in general, dogs who are treated as equal members of the family tend to be less respectful of owner’s commands and household rules. Behavioral problems are much more common with sofa dogs than non-sofa dogs.
A few additional considerations:If your dog is allowed on the sofa with you, be prepared for him to jump up and make himself comfortable when guests are over, too.
Wherever you take your dog—such as to a friend or relative’s house—he will expect the same rules to apply.
If you don’t yet have children, you may feel differently about your dog’s sofa privileges once a baby joins the family. It’s easier to start off with stricter rules then to introduce them later on.
How to change the rules
If you’ve already been allowing your dog on the sofa and would now like to stop, it’s not too late. Start by earning your dog’s respect through obedience commands—such as sit, stay, and down. Then, begin consistently redirecting your dog to a different spot such as a dog bed. Remember, dog training involves consistency and repetition, so stick with it and don’t give in. Your reward will be a more obedient dog—and more room on the sofa.
In the end, allowing your dog on the sofa is just a matter of preference. Whatever you decide, make sure every member of your family sticks by the rules. If you or anyone else lets him up on the furniture, he may just think he’s welcome all the time.