Training Tips and Tricks Part 6 – Furniture Etiquette
There are mixed views out there on dogs being allowed on the human furniture. There is no problem what so ever in having a permanent rule of no dogs on the furniture and this can make life easier for your hound in the form of crystal clear boundaries.
Our dogs are allowed on the furniture and I love cuddling with them on the couch while watching TV or having a sneaky nana nap at the weekends. However I do appreciate that not everyone is going to want a 25kg+ dog taking up half/all of the couch, not to mention dog hair all over it!
My rule has been no dogs on the furniture until you can easily get them off. You are not going to have that level of control of your hound on day one and for that reason I do think ‘no dogs on the furniture’ should be a rule in every hound’s new home – especially in the beginning.
Your hound has most probably been kennelled for the majority of his life and is used to sleeping without being physically disturbed at all. If they are disturbed when they are in a deep sleep, there is every chance that your placid wee hound will wake in a growling snarling snapping mess. Giving you and himself a massive fright in the process. Speaking from experience it is very frightening when it happens for both owners and hounds and is another reason to avoid new hounds on furniture. The last thing you want is to uncross/cross your legs and knock your hound who is sound asleep, only have him wake up in an explosion as he is not used to being physically disturbed in his sleep.
Once your hounds pet skills start to develop and he learns his place in the home you can then make a choice on whether your hound is allowed on the furniture or not. Before even thinking about allowing your hound on the couch you need to have some basic communication established. For example he should be coming to you when called. Then you can be reasonably confident that if he is on the couch and you do want him off, you can call him off easily.
So that’s all well and good to start with but what if you let your hound on the furniture from day one and he has taken over the couch and you can’t get him off? It’s time for some remedial training.
Firstly make sure your hound has his own bed in a safe place, out of foot traffic’s way but still in a position where he can see what is going on with his family around him. Actively do some ‘on your bed’ training (See Fast Friends………. For my ‘on your bed’ article). Teach your dog where you want him to sleep and relax.
When you are leaving your hound unsupervised, if at all possible, do not leave him in the room with the furniture you are trying to keep him off while you are going through the retraining process.
If you see him eyeing up the couch/about to climb up interrupt him (call him to you or if you are close gently take his collar) and guide him to his bed and then reward him for laying down on it. If you are on the couch and your hound tries to sneak up beside you, gently block (do not push) him with an arm, leg or your body. Do not look at your hound (turn your head away from him) or say anything to him while you are blocking his climb. He will eventually get the point – be warned particularly stubborn hounds may take a wee bit of time – be patient, calm and positive. Once he moves away from the couch and lays on his bed or the floor, look at him and say with a quiet smile ‘good dog’ or similar endearment. Acknowledge him for doing the right thing.
If you do happen to find your hound has made it onto the couch in the split second you weren’t watching, as tempting as it is, do not just grab his collar and drag him off, especially if he is has been known to growl. Try the below to turn his mistake into a positive training experience.
Get a treat and call him to you, place him on his bed and give him the treat when he lays down on it.
Rush out of the room away from him like you are going somewhere really exciting. Hounds tend to have a built in ‘fear of missing out’. As he catches up to you treat him (good things happen when he is near you) and then put him on his bed.
Pick up his lead and walk to the door. When he gets to you, snap the lead on and take him for a walk (even just to the gate and back) come back inside and put him on his bed and treat when he lays down.
Pick up his food bowl and put a treat in it and give it to him at his feeding place. Then put him on his bed and reward him when he lays down.
Dogs think in the now, not in the past. The fact that he started on the couch will have no meaning to him when you treat him on his bed, when he comes to you or when he follows you. You are treating good behaviour in the split second that your hound gives it to you and that’s what he will remember.
If you are having issues with your hound and any growling behaviour I recommend getting an expert in to help you. Ask for referrals from your local Dog Training Club or fellow Gappers in your area.
Bec, Priceless & Blondie