Sunday, January 6, 2013

No more doggies jumping on the bed ...

I get this question a lot: Should I allow my dog on the bed (or other furniture)?  Usually this is based on the very old-school of thought that having dogs in your bed or on your furniture gives your dog a sense of "dominance" and being "higher up".  Easily put, that is hog wash.

Without getting too  much into the whole dominance theory, as re-visited by scientists today, I will just say that here are common myths about canine dominance in the pet home that are just that: myths.
  • If you allow your dog to sleep with you he'll think he's ranked higher and may feel more dominant.
  • If you allow your dog to walk through a door way before you then you are allowing your dog to be dominant, and be ahead.
  • If you play tug and let him win, your dog may become dominant, or aggressive.
  • If your dog growls or snaps at you  he's showing dominance.
  • If your dog is a bully to other dogs or aggressive towards them it's because he thinks he's dominant.
While the above listed items are all completely false and all have other meanings and root from other things, we won't address those in this post.  I just want to address dogs on furniture or sleeping with you in the bed. 

The truth is that dogs can sleep wherever you wish, with some rules and training under their belt.   I feel that dogs can be allowed on any furniture where I sit or lie (minus kitchen chairs/stools and tables!) with the following reliable things in place:
  • When I ask them to move and/or "get off" they do so without coercion or bribery. 
  • They do not mind moving when I get into their space on the furniture.
  • They never show any aggression or refuse to get off the furniture.
  • In multiple dog homes all dogs should be able to safely share space without a tussle, snap, snarl or argument. (This may require more training depending on the dogs!)
The above should be trained before being requested by you.  If your dog cannot or does not respond to the above then you need to train him to respond to your requests and move out of space when you move into it.  You should train your dog to do this without force.  These are easy things to train, just practice and train them before asking your dog to do them, as with anything you ask of your dog.  If you need to work on this with a multiple dog home there may be a few extra steps and a bit more training involved, but it can be done! Remember it's not fair to ask your dog to something you've never actually trained him to do. 

Here is a video of my dogs showing some examples we discussed above.  (Direct link to video:

Choosing to have pets on the furniture is a personal choice. If you simply do not want dogs on the furniture that is totally fine. However if you don't allow it because you were led to believe it was "bad" or would lead to "behavior problems" then fret no more! Just teach your dog the rules and boundaries of your bed and furniture! Happy sleeping!
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