|‘Sarah’ my German Shepherd x Siberian Husky enjoying warmth & comfort|
The answer is no, sitting on the couch does not make your dog aggressive – but lack of leadership can!
Recently, I had a client ask me if his little Yorkie was being dominating as it liked to sit on the back of a couch! He had read an article on the internet that if a dog sits on the back of a coach, the dog is dominating.
I love the fact that we can do so much research at the touch of our finger…the only problem is that it magnifies the ability of those who really do not understand dogs to influence others.
To answer my client’s question, I ask them
One – Is it OK with you if your dog sits on the couch?
Two – If you indicate to your dog that is should get off of the couch will it get off without any issue?
Three – Can everyone else sit on the couch and your dog willingly accepts every ones presence without a complaint (no growling, no nipping, etc.);
Four – Will your dog quietly yield space on the couch should he need to move over a little to make room for people or another dog?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above – then there is no issue – there is no reason why your dog should not avail themselves of the comfort of the couch!
Sitting on a couch does not make a dog reactive aggressive – it is a lack of proper coaching and mentoring that can make a dog reactive.
Personally, I love relaxing late at night sitting on the couch, with dogs to either side of me, at me feet and in their various favourite spots around the living room…seeing them just being calm, relaxed, and content. Their energy spent for the day.
|Jordie, my German Shepherd x Malamute relaxing after a pack walk|
Don’t set your dog up for failure. If you don’t want him on the couch including when you are not home you are going to have to close a door or put a baby gate up to section off the spaces that accommodate couches. Be fair.
|‘Robbie’ my Boxer and ‘Tibby’,
both of my cats love to cuddle with Robbie on the couch
One– Make sure you are grounded – emotionally neutral, and ready to coach with fair, firm confidence. Don’t be aggressive; don’t raise your voice in anger.
Two – Lead…addressing from a distance is not leadership, calmly but with assurance get up and walk over to your dog.
Three – Get your dog’s attention, you can tap your at his/her shoulder or waist, you can snap your fingers and say ‘hey’ or ‘uh’.
Four– Tell your dog what you want i.e. ‘off’ or down’…I have ten dogs – different breeds, from tiny to large – they all understand this type of direction…as do the dogs I work with for my clients.
Five – Tell your dog what you would like it to do instead i.e. ‘go sit down’ and show your dog where you would like it to sit instead. Don’t just point – get up and show your dog where you want him to sit / lie down. Once your dog is familiar with his relax spot you will be able to point…for now you must take a more active lead.
Six – Follow through…if your dog goes back to the couch to get-up, don’t get angry, simply direct as per the steps above.
|Abby. All of my dogs excel at pillow arranging!|
Be patient, fair, calm, confident and direct – remember you do not change your habits instantly!
|‘Buddy’ my Cocker Spaniel and ‘Jacob’ my little Pomeranian|
If your dog is possessive about space or objects that needs to be addressed as well.
Buddy the Cocker Spaniel one of the many rescued dogs in my own dog pack was not allowed up on any couch or bed until his over threshold aggressive-reactive issues were resolved. Today he is free to use the couches as all the other dogs do.