Monday, November 4, 2013

Confessions of a Dog Trainer #1: My Dog Sleeps On My Bed

Those who know me know that I talk about dogs a lot. No matter how a conversation with my co-workers or friends begins, it’s not uncommon for it to turn into questions about dogs. A few of my friends - and countless dog training clients - often confess to me that they know it's wrong that they let their dogs up on their furniture and allow them to sleep in bed with them. They are often very apologetic and often times humiliated by the "awful" truth that they allow their dog "human" privileges.

Well, I've got news for you, my dog is allowed on furniture and he makes himself quite comfortable each evening at the foot of my side of the bed.

Oscar, on "my" side of the bed

While allowing pets on furniture is a personal choice, let me lay a few guidelines as to when I feel it is and is not appropriate to allow pets this comfort.
  • If my dog growled at me while he was on any piece of furniture, I would not allow him to be up there. I would use varying levels of management to prevent his access to it and actively modify this behavior if my end goal was to share the space with him.
  • If I would like to gain access to a certain piece of furniture, at my request, I expect my dog to relinquish his spot and take up camp somewhere else. Of course, I don't expect him to be born knowing this behavior...I train it and make it worth his while for moving (treats, access to a different squishy, warm spot, or an invitation to jump back up after he has jumped off).
  • If I am already up on a piece of furniture and my dog wants to join me, I expect him to wait for an invitation. The majority of the time I will offer an invitation, but other times I do not because I am eating or simply want to relish in the full surface area of the couch and stretch out my tired legs.
Oscar sleeps on our bed and he is allowed on both of our couches. Of course he has other options too...and most of the time when we are hanging out during waking hours, he finds comfort in strategically placing himself on a nearby rug or dog bed where he can keep tabs on every single entry door to our house while simultaneously keeping track of all of his humans. 

This simple matter of comfort and choice has not made Oscar a "dominant" dog in any way, shape or form. He is a healthy dog who enjoys being comfortable and I am confident in the relationship we have that I do not need to worry about his furniture privileges. 

If your situation is similar to that of mine, don't apologize or feel guilty that your dog sleeps in bed with you or hops up on the couch with you. I guarantee you he is not trying to take over the world...he's just more comfortable being on a soft piece of furniture.

Stay tuned for more confessions from my daily life with my special boy...

Coming Up Next: 
Confessions of a Dog Trainer #2: My Dog Pulls on Leash


  1. Great article! I tell my clients that it is completely a personal choice if your dog(s) are allowed on the furniture. My husband and I chose to not allow our LARGE dogs on the furniture only because there would be no room for people. And sleeping in our bed would be problematic (135 lb dog + 50 lb dog = no space for US), so they have comfy beds on the floor and we are all very happy. When I dogsit my nephew-pup, a Westie, he is allowed on the furniture and sleeps with us with no problems at all. My Confession of a Dog Trainer... I feed my dogs food from the table sometimes.