TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Dear Carla,
We have a 3-year-old Golden named Annie who we’ve had since puppyhood. She has always been allowed on the furniture because what we had was old. We just bought a new sofa and would really like for her to stay off of it. She also gets on our bed and it’s okay if she continues to do that. Is it too confusing to tell her to stay off the sofa but not the bed. How can we teach her not to get on the new sofa?
When a dog is allowed on any furniture in the home, there should be rules that go with the privilege. They should be taught cues like “jump-up” and “off” so you can control their behavior. Since you are going to continue to allow Annie on the bed, that would be the best place to work on the cues. Once she has learned them, you can use the “off” cue if she jumps on the new sofa.
To teach her these cues, you are going to use a method called luring. First, get some small, soft treats. You will be working in the bedroom. Place a treat close to Annie’s nose and slowly move the treat up over the bed so she will have to jump on the bed to get it. Now use a treat to lure her off the bed. Repeat this sequence until she is easily jumping on and off the bed. Now add the cues by saying “jump up” and then luring her onto the bed and “off” followed by the lure off the bed.
Once you have practiced this for a few days, start to pause after the cue and before the lure. You want her to learn to jump up and off without being lured with a treat. You still want to pay her with a treat until she has mastered the cues.
Since Annie is used to sleeping on the sofa, you will need to manage her behavior even when you aren’t home. To keep her off the new sofa when you are gone, place some dining room chairs upside down on it. Any item that keeps her from jumping up on the sofa will work, but chairs are light and easy to move.
When you are home, she will need to learn to sleep somewhere else. Be sure she has a nice comfy dog bed near the sofa. If she doesn’t already know a “go to bed” cue, you can teach this with the luring method used before. Give her the cue and then lure her with a treat to the bed. She will also need to learn to lay down. Every time she tries to jump on the sofa, tell her “off,” lure her if necessary, and ask her to “go to bed.” If you are consistent, she will learn the new rules.
Carla Brown, CPDT is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of The Savvy Dog Training and Education Center in Truckee. If you have a pet topic/issue you would like to see covered in the Ask the Trainer column, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.