Caitlin UltimoTraining / Training Tips

Dog Training: Should You Let Your Dog in the Bed and on the Couch?

Letting your pet jump up on the furniture allows you to get comfortable and cuddle up with your dog in bed for a quick nap or early morning snuggles. Does anything sound better for a die-hard dog lover than hanging out with your dog on the couch?

But is there a negative side to giving our pets this privilege (aside from pet hair, which, let’s face it, covers every inch of our homes, anyway)? Anthony Newman, CPDT-KA and founder of Calm Energy Dog Training NYC, says that when it comes to allowing your dog on the couch or bed, “The crucial question I always ask is, ‘Can you get your dog off the bed (couch, etc.) when you want to?’” If you can answer “yes” to this question, then, great! Your dog sleeping in bed or cat lounging on the sofa isn’t much of an issue!

In these cases, Newman suggests not allowing your dog in bed during “trigger situations,” such as when around kids or other pets, or when the doorbell rings, as it may cause your pet to get overbearing in asserting dominance. Instead, if your dog reacts loudly or aggressively, send him down to his own dog bed to induce calmness, obedience and submissiveness. The Frisco Steel-Framed Elevated Pet Bed is a skid-resistant indoor or outdoor solution that gives your dog an area to call his own. For a plush bed, the MidWest Quiet Time Ombre Swirl Dog & Cat Bed is an ultra-soft option that will let your cat or dog be in a bed still, but not necessarily your bed.

However, if you have trouble getting your dog down from the bed or couch when you want to, there may be a larger issue. If your dog growls, snaps, bites, or even shows hesitation by whining, barking or jumping back when asked to move, it may be time to limit the privilege. “In these cases, it’s important to use all available tools—leave a light leash dangling, send the dog off the bed using a pillow to block reactivity, etc.—and practice having them down on their own calm, submissive, obedient bed for longer and longer intervals, positively reinforcing with stuffed KONGs and bully sticks,” says Newman. Instead of allowing your dog on the couch whenever he pleases, use it as a dog training opportunity to reward good behavior and show your dog the privilege that it is.

Dog begging is hard to say “no” to, but “before your dog jumps up on the bed, have her go lie down in her own dog bed—for 10 seconds the first day; 30 seconds the second day; 1 minute the third day, etc.,” directs Newman. “I’m all about giving our dogs everything they want, but using those resources as rewards for other kinds of behavior [takes] a bit more work.” The Frisco Quilted Fleece Pet Bed & Crate Mat can be used as a bed on its own or with a dog crate to give your pet a comfortable den and personal space to call his own. When he starts dog begging and wants to jump up onto the couch or bed, send him to his bed for a minute or two before inviting him up into your space.

The key to being a responsible dog lover is to start dog training early by teaching your dog that sleeping in your bed or on the couch is a privilege. Even if you’d like to allow your dog in bed, giving your dog a place to call his own will help mitigate his possessiveness over your space.