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Question
Hi,
We have allowed our dogs on the TV room and living room furniture whenever they want. It is old and crappy and will be tossed. However, tomorrow we are getting new leather furniture for the living room and, though they still get the large "L" shaped sofa in the TV room (roomie enough for them to stretch out full length and still not touch each other) I do not want them on the new living room furniture. Not only is it a problem that we used to let them on the living room furniture, but it will be arranged exactly like the old. We cannot give them dog beds. We have wasted hundreds of dollars on them and they just shred them up. Crating is no good since we want them to be watch dogs. We have hardwood floors in the living room so the furniture is the only comfy place there. Can we train them not to get on the living room furniture anymore, but let them know the TV room furniture is still ok?Oh and we never hit our dogs in any way shape or form so that is out. The female is a 65 pound Malinois and the male is a mix of lab, pit bull and some kind of water dog, I think it is a hound of some kind. Thank you!

Answer
Hi Diana!

Dogs can learn that some furniture is allowed and some isn't, you just have to be consistent with your rules. Teach them an "off" cue if they don't already know one so that you can shoo them off the leather furniture without having to grab or pull them. This is a fairly simple thing to teach. Invite them up on the couch that they are allowed on, then put a treat on their nose and lure them onto the ground saying "off". Reward with the treat when all four paws are on the floor. Do this several times until they each get the idea, then try the cue without the food lure, but still rewarding them with a treat when they jump down.

A few suggestions: Cover your new furniture or block access to it (baby gate, closed door)  when you are not home. If you are not there to give the "off" cue and reinforce it, they're going to jump up there. This is particularly true if the new couch offers a good view out the window. If you are unable to close the room off, put some upside down kitchen chairs or other obstacle on the couch.

When the family is hanging out in the living room, the dogs are going to want to be part of things. If that has included snuggling on the couch until now, it's going to be hard for them! Consider getting some cheap dog beds that you only put down when everyone is spending time in the living room, You can put them away when they're not being used so the dogs don't tear them up. Even an old towel or blanket would work. Teaching them to "go to bed" on cue and then reinforcing them for lying quietly would be worthwhile.

Everyone in the family has to agree "no dogs on leather couch". Sending mixed messages or letting them up sometimes but not others isn't going to work, so make sure everyone is on the same page!  

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Sarah Maki

Expertise

I'm happy to help with all obedience and training related questions. Although I work as a trainer solving behavioral issues, I do not feel comfortable providing advice or suggestions for aggression, resource guarding, phobias or other behavioral problems without evaluating a dog in person, those are areas where I believe a personal consultation is necessary.

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I have been training dogs professionally since 2008. In 2009 I graduated with honors from Animal Behavior College and have also completed their Shelter Dog Program. I teach group classes and conduct in-home training sessions.

Education/Credentials
I am an ABCD-T (Animal Behavior College Dog Trainer) and am working towards my CPDT.

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