Climbing on the Furniture

Dogs enjoy getting comfortable, and a soft chair or comforter-topped bed is a much nicer place to catch 40 winks than the hard floor. But comfort isn't the only reason dogs take over the furniture. From their point of view, the human comfort zones are positions of power -- more attractive by far than a bean bag on the floor. Which is why even dogs given the best accommodations will often sneak up on the couch or slip into your bed late at night. What are they trying to tell you?

"I want to see what's going on." Nowhere is the realtor's mantra -- "location, location, location" -- more true than among dogs. They like to know what's happening around them and to be a part of things, even when they're only silent spectators. Unlike their own beds, which are usually tucked out of the way, couches and easy chairs are located in prime positions and offer great vantage points from which to see what's going on. In addition, furniture is relatively high off the ground, and high positions, among dogs, are considered prime status spots.

Once a dog appropriates a piece of furniture, it can be very difficult to persuade her to sleep elsewhere. Apart from using repellents, which often don't work very well, trainers recommend covering dogs' chosen spots with books or other impediments for a few days, while at the same time providing a more comfortable dog bed that's located in prime real estate -- right next to the couch, for example, or near the center of the room, where she can see what's going on.

"I thought it was okay!" People don't always admit it, but trainers have found that furniture-hogging dogs are usually getting some surreptitious encouragement from someone in the family. No matter how often you tell your dog to get off the couch, she's going to keep getting up when someone else is encouraging her on the sly.

Dogs learn best when they get consistent messages from all the people in their lives. As long as everyone in the family takes a united stand -- by warning them before they make their ascent onto the furniture, and immediately kicking them off on the occasions they get lucky -- dogs will generally decide that it's not worth the bother and will cheerfully accept their own comfortable beds.

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