How to Keep My Dogs Off the Couch When I'm Not Home

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"You and what army are going to get me off this couch?" Bruiser snorted.
"You and what army are going to get me off this couch?" Bruiser snorted. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Your dogs knows not to get on the couch when you're at home. But the minute you leave the house, up they go and there they stay, drooling and shedding until you get home. According to Pamela Reid, animal behaviorist and writer for Modern Dog Magazine, your dogs' behavior is a question of rewards. When you're there, there are too many "shoo"s and "no"s to make a nap on the couch rewarding. But when you're gone, the lack of reprimands make the couch once again an ideal napping spot. To change your dogs' behavior, you must make the couch a less inviting place when you're gone.

Physically bar access to the couch. Place upturned dining room chairs, books or other large bulky objects on the couch. Make sure they aren't flat or your dogs will just lay on top of them. Also make sure you manage fairly good coverage. Dogs love curling up in super small places. If this is tough to accomplish, try the next step.

Make the couch a less rewarding place to nap. Dr. Reid suggests stacking empty cans on the edge of the couch. Once your dogs jumps up, down come the cans. They may be too traumatized to jump back up. If your dogs recover from their shock and are back on the couch by the time you get home, move on to Step 3.

Purchase a couch alarm like the Sofa Saver or the Scat Mat. These are pads that you lay on your couch. When your dogs jump up, the device's pressure-sensitive alarm activates, emitting a shock or a high-pitched shriek that won't stop until the dog gets off.

Give your dogs a more comfortable alternative. Your couch deterrents don't have to be quite as stringent or consistent if your dog has a comfy alternative. Purchase or make beds that are just as cushioned as your couch cushions. Consider placing them on a crate or two. Height may be what your dogs enjoy. Some pet owners opt to purchase an old couch just for their dogs' use when they're away (booby trap one and keep the other open). Keep the dog bedding in the living room or the place your dogs love to be most (which is likely wherever you are) and they may choose it over the family couch.

Tips & Warnings

  • Place a blanket on the couch. This way you can allow your dogs to climb up on the couch without causing it any damage. If you use the blanket while you're home as well, you may be able to get your dogs to associate a nap on the couch with the blanket. Then you can teach them that you're not allowed on the couch unless the blanket is on.

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