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.
As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.
When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.
Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food
If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.
However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.
Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.
It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.
Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.
While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!
Whether you choose dry food, soft food or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.