When I arrive for an in-home consultation with clients, I always want to know where dogs spend their time, where they are allowed or not, and what the household rules are. People who allow their dogs on the furniture are often sheepish about admitting it. I often hear things like “I know we shouldn’t, but we do allow our dog to snuggle on the couch with us.”
People will assume that I will tell them they should not do this. They will assume that I will try to change that. I rarely do. As with many other things that dogs do, many people have been led to believe that this behavior will cause a dog to think he is dominant or alpha in the household. That is simply not true. The same goes for dogs going through the door first, dogs walking in front on you on a walk, dogs eating dinner before you eat your dinner, and so many other things. If you’ve been told that, strike it from your memory right now! It is simply not true.
My dogs are allowed to snuggle with me on the couch. My dogs quite often walk ahead of me on walks. My dogs are usually fed dinner before I sit down to relax and eat my own dinner. Are my dogs dominant? Are they trying to take over the household? Am I subservient to them? Absolutely not!
Years ago, I didn’t allow my dogs on the furniture. I was afraid of getting my couch dirty with muddy feet. I now put a blanket on the couch that I can pull off and easily wash whenever I need. I have always loved to snuggle with my dogs, but I used to sit on the floor to snuggle with them. It was very uncomfortable, but it was a sacrifice I made to snuggle with them. Then one day I decided this was absurd. If I loved snuggling but it was more comfortable on the couch, why not allow the dogs up there with me? So I did. And I have never once regretted it. My dogs all love to snuggle with me and I with them.
Romeo, my Vizsla, has been a master snuggler since day one. He will snuggle with me no matter how small the space and no matter how warm it is. His favorite place in the entire world is in his momma’s lap! Zuzu, our Greyhound puppy, was not much of a snuggler at first. I think she gets too warm much easier than Romeo does. She is becoming more and more of a snuggler with me, but she will often end up moving to the floor where it’s cooler after a bit.
Now, I do have rules in place. If my dogs were being possessive of the couch and not allowing us to join them if they are already there, then they would lose their privileges. My rules for couch-sharing are these:
- If I say, “Off!” dogs must immediately get off the couch.
- If I say, “Move!” dogs must immediately get up and move over so I can sit in my usual spot. Once I am settled in, they are welcome to come back and snuggle with me.
- Couches/chairs are for napping only. Dogs are not allowed to play on the couch. Dogs are not allowed to chew bully sticks on the couch. Dogs are not allowed to chew on the couch.
I do not allow my dogs on the bed. As much as I like to snuggle, I also like to sleep. And I know I would not get a good night’s sleep if they were snuggled with me at bedtime.
These are my rules when it comes to furniture. I’m not saying you should allow your dogs on the furniture. That’s entirely up to you. What are your rules?