Training Tip: Keeping dogs off furniture

By on July 14, 2014

Recently, we received a reader question about training dogs to change behavior. We’ve built a relationship with Jaime Lundeby, owner and head trainer of Unleashed Omaha, and he’s our go-to for queries like this.

Question: We’ve had our dogs for a few years and they’ve always been able to use our living room furniture. We recently bought some very nice, new furniture and would love to know how to teach the dogs to stay off!

Answer: At anytime in a dog’s life there may be a new circumstance in which previous allowed behaviors are no longer allowed.  The main thing when teaching your pets to stay off of your furniture is consistency.  If you allow them up every once in a while, the idea of staying off the couches will be unclear to the dog, not to mention is unfair of you as an owner to send this confusing message to your dog.

For a couple weeks, have your dog on a flat collar, or a pinch if they have not been conditioned to leash pressure, and attach a 4-6 foot leash.  The collar and leash combination will be worn at all times during the teaching process unless the dog is kenneled for when the handler leaves or it’s bedtime. If you walk into the room and find your loveable pooch on the couch, simply walk up, grab the leash, say the word “OFF” first, then pull on the leash until all slack is taken out.  Once all slack is taken out of the leash, slowly increase your pulling on the leash enough so you know the dog will not be able to continue holding his/her position. Be careful not to pull so much that you’re physically moving them off the couch.

In the teaching phase, we want the dog to make the decision to come off the couch. The second the dog makes a forward motion gesture as if they are getting off the couch, pressure comes off the leash and encouragement follows. Once a dog’s feet are on the ground and off the couch, use LAVISH praise! You can even hold some of their daily food aside to feed them a little handful once they are off the couch, using it as positive reinforcement.  Once the dog has demonstrated that he/she knows what ”OFF” means by performing it 8 out of 10 times on verbal command only, we will introduce correction for disobeying.  Correction is used for changing present and future behavior  If you’re only fixing the present behavior and not deterring future instances, then your correction isn’t doing any good.  We want the dog to ask itself, “is performing this previously learned behavior again really worth it?”

Ultimately, we want to get to the point where it is no longer a positive thing to be on the furniture.  The reason we condition them coming off the couch first is they’ve learned over the years this is an acceptable behavior.  If you go straight to compulsion to correct this behavior, it becomes extremely confusing to the dog and can amount to other problems.  We ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS teach first.  Correction comes so much easier to the dog when they know what to do. Be their leader, teacher, and guidance counselor and they will work for you that much harder!

If you have questions for Jaime Lundeby, our resident training expert, use the CONTACT US form under the MORE menu on our homepage. If you are ready to hire Jaime or want to get to know him better, use the following contact information.

Jaime Lundeby

Unleashed Omaha, LLC

Owner/Head Trainer



Also, you can read about him more in two other Pets in Omaha feature articles.


Meet Jaime by reading this:

Read about his training regimen here:

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