Dog on couch.

Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, arthritis, or a luxating patella are just some of the conditions that can be exacerbated by the trauma put on joints from jumping off furniture. For a small dog, soaring off a sofa could be equivalent to us jumping off a wall triple our height! For a big dog, moving all that extra weight up and down puts severe stress on joints. Your team at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care is here to bring a new approach to choosing what’s best when your dog jumps on furniture. 

A Fun and Healthier Alternative

Jumping on and off of chairs, sofas, beds is usually a solitary activity for most dogs. So if your dog wants to jump on the couch, they don’t need your permission, and they just do it themselves. However, getting your dog to ask your permission if you decide to continue letting them on the furniture is an interactive way for you to bond even further. Here’s how:

  1. When your dog is on the couch, show them some treats and put a few on the ground.
  2. When they get off of the couch, give another treat and lots of praise.
  3. Offer them an alternative to getting back up on the sofa, such as an interactive toy to play with like a bone, a treat ball, or a kong. 

The goal is to have your dog get excited about not getting on the furniture. The steps above are enough to teach them to stay off permanently. If you would like that your dog jumps on furniture at your invitation, keep going.

  1. Wait until your dog wants to jump up, then stand in the way between your dog and the couch.
  2. Ask your dog to sit.
  3. Pat your hand on the couch to signal they can join you.

Every step they take in the right direction is a step toward your dog understanding what you want them to do. Plus, the amount of time your dog spends with you working with treats and learning to stay off of the furniture will be immensely rewarding in itself. Your dog can be happy to learn, “I get treats for being on the ground.” Being on the furniture is its own reward!

Other Options and Solutions

Alternative beds create a safe space for our dogs. A crate is always a good idea, even past puppy age. There are all different types, and you don’t have to get one that locks if you don’t feel comfortable with that. Some have even been designed to look like furniture. Try your best to stay out of your dog’s crate, which will really add to its appeal for your pet. If they go running there when they hear something scary, for example, it might be tempting to try and drag them out, but it’s worth it to respect their private space in the long run.

Dog stairs or a dog ramp are helpful accessories if you would like to let your pets on furniture but do not want to put their joints at risk. This is particularly important for pets with a condition like arthritis. If you decide to make one yourself, be sure that there is grip on the surface of the steps because paws can be slippery!

Working With the Up’s and Down’s

It’s always a good idea to remember there won’t necessarily be a moment for your dog where “it just clicks” not to jump on the furniture. You can help them learn with repeated rewarded behaviors and give us a call at (704) 334-4684 if you have any questions regarding your pet. If you remember it’s a journey toward good behavior, you and your dog are already off on the right paw!