We all love our dogs, but likely not all their behaviors.
Sometimes it can feel impossible to keep your dog off of furniture, keep them from digging through the garbage, jumping on guests at the front door, ruining our nice new carpet, or tripping us while we cook dinner.
Dogs generally have good reasons for doing these things. After all, couches are comfy, hanging out with you (their favorite person) is the best, visitors to your home are intruders, and garbage smells good.
At the same time, these behaviors can create an array of issues. A dog that jumps on guests might scare or hurt them. Your pup could trip you in the kitchen. Eating garbage could make your pet sick. Dogs can be very hard on furniture.
Enforcing rules can be a challenge for dog owners and can be impossible when you aren’t around. You don’t want your dog to get into the roast when you walk away or get fur on the couch while you’re out shopping.
So how do you effectively and consistently communicate to your dog what is and isn’t appropriate, and then enforce these rules?
How to Train Your Dog to Stay Off the Couch and Follow Other Rules
Just like anything else, the key to changing behavior is training and communication.
Working to get your dog to break undesirable habits is to pit yourself against what comes naturally: to sleep in the most comfortable spot, to be close to you (the pack), to follow interesting smells, to guard their territory.
Here are some tips that can help you communicate effectively, assert yourself, and correct undesirable behaviors.
For behaviors like counter surfing, the AKC recommends that you avoid feeding your dog scraps in the kitchen and keep your counter clean and free of anything enticing.
Provide Alternatives and Redirect the Behavior.
If you want your dog to stay off the couch, offer them an equally comfy place to rest, such as a dog bed, favorite blanket, or another piece of furniture. Encourage them to go there instead.
To redirect your dog from engaging in unwanted behavior, such as jumping on people at the door, try this:
- Addressing the dog with a consistent verbal or nonverbal cue, such as the dog’s name, a clicker, or a specific sound.
- Offer a compelling reward when the dog turns their attention to you. Repeat.
- When your dog consistently attends to you each time you make the noise, begin to mix it up. Continue to make the sound when you want your dog’s attention, but don’t give them a treat every time. This way, your dog will know that there is always a chance for a treat.
- Only use this technique when your dog is about to engage in unwanted behavior.
Provide Positive Reinforcement.
When your dog displays positive behavior, you want to encourage and reward them immediately with attention, a treat, or something else they enjoy. This connects the behavior with a positive outcome, making them more likely to repeat it in the future.
Never let your dog do the undesired behavior without consequences. It’s confusing for them, since they won’t be able to grasp which circumstances make a behavior okay.
Plus, positive reinforcement for good behavior or a consequence for bad behavior should occur only a few seconds after a dog takes an action, so they can easily connect the specific action to the positive or negative consequence.
An indoor boundary system becomes a real asset, because it works even when you’re not present. Dogs quickly learn that the behavior has an undesirable consequence.
Say “No,” and Establish Yourself As the Alpha.
We all love to spoil our pets, and some may feel that saying “no” and disciplining their dog is mean. Actually, discipline (done right) is good for your dog. Here’s why.
Teaching your dog “no” and offering a consistent disciplinary response actually helps you communicate with your dog, since they don’t understand why you dislike things like jumping on visitors, and don’t know what “no” means unless you teach them.
Specifically, saying “no” to your dog communicates that:
- You are the pack leader. Your dog can trust you to make the decisions, and all they have to do is follow.
- “No” is what you say when you don’t like something, and want it to stop.
Train Them with Commands Like “Off.”
Similar to saying “no,” training dogs with other specific commands is a clear way to communicate.
For example, every time your dog jumps on the couch, you can say “No. Off,” or “Get down,” and make sure they get off the couch. If everyone in your house says the same thing every time the dog jumps on the couch, after a while, your dog will learn this command means “get off the couch.”
The AKC recommends you make each command sound distinctly different, so dogs can tell them apart. For example, you wouldn’t want to tell a dog “down,” when you want them to get off the couch, but also give the command “down” when you want them to lay down. This could be confusing.
Try an Indoor Boundary System.
Since you’re reading this, you may have tried some of these training tactics already, but your dog is continuing to disobey. Besides, you can’t stand guard over your couch, garbage, or forbidden part of your house 24/7.
One way to keep your dog off couches and away from other areas is using an indoor boundary, like the Dog Guard® RT-2 Room Transmitter.
The small transmitter plugs into an outlet and emits a wireless signal to the same receiver collar as the Dog Guard® outdoor fence. This signal forms a radius around the object or space you’re trying to safeguard.
You can adjust the boundary to be as small as a one-foot radius (such as around your garbage), or as large as eight feet around the transmitter (such as your kitchen).
When your dog approaches the transmitter, they will hear a tone from their collar, and receive a correction (similar to a static shock). We all know that the sensation of a static shock is surprising and unpleasant enough to dissuade your dog from nearing the transmitter again.
Benefits of the Dog Guard® Indoor Invisible Pet Fence
There are several advantages to this method:
- It’s easy to provide a consistent disciplinary correction even when you’re away.
- No need to constantly take objects like tin foil on and off your furniture, or install and uninstall baby gates.
- It pairs well with the outdoor Dog Guard® Out of Sight Fencing®.
- Your dog may recognize the training flags and sound the collar makes, providing a consistent experience inside and outside.
- Portable—take it with you when you travel.
- It’s covered by our lifetime warranty.
How to Train a Dog on an Indoor Boundary System
Similar to training your dog on an outdoor boundary, you can follow a few simple steps to help your dog learn the system.
- Place signal flags along the edge of the boundary at regular intervals to show the dog the boundary. You can place the flags in bottles, or prop them up with picture frames.
- Put a signal flag next to the unit.
- When the dog receives a correction, praise them for retreating from the undesirable behavior or location.
- Most dogs learn how the system works after only a couple of days.
Keeping your dog out of a room or off your furniture can be as simple as communicating clearly with them, offering alternatives, and providing a consistent disciplinary response.
Take steps to keep your dog off of the couch today with an easy indoor boundary solution.