Should I Let My Dog Up on the Couch or Not, and Why?

It’s a question that has hounded dog owners for many years; should I let my cool canine up on the couch? Some will argue that it’s no big deal, while others might say it’s a big no-no, but what’s the real truth? Do you cause a problem when you allow your pet pooch to snuggle, sleep or sit on the sofa, or is it something that’s just fine and won’t cause any future problems?

If you’ve asked yourself this canine-to-couch question and wondered what the correct answer is, this article will help. In Should I Let My Dog Up on the Couch or Not, and Why, we’ll take a closer look at this age-old question and give you the latest advice and answers so that you can make the best choice for yourself and your pooch pal. Enjoy.

To Cuddle on the Couch Or Not To Cuddle on the Couch

When it comes to dogs and couches (or sofas, chaise lounges, sectionals, divans, love seats, whatever you call this piece of furniture) many dog owners don’t really know what to do, but they do know that they love cuddling with their fur baby, which makes the situation a bit more difficult.

The case gets even worse if one person in the house wants to let fido up on the couch and another doesn’t, which can cause obvious problems in a relationship that the dog has nothing to do with.

In some households, the rule is no dogs on the couch but their pooch has other plans and, in rare cases, the family dog can get aggressive if they’re on the couch and their owner tries to get them off of it.

Some Canine experts say yes, letting your dog up on the sofa is OK and is a good thing because of the deeper, stronger bond that it builds between owner and pet. Others say that it creates a dominance issue that can cause bigger issues like aggressive behavior.

In our opinion, there are three things you need to consider before you make the decision to let your dog have sofa privileges.

Consideration #1

Do you want the dog to be allowed on the furniture or not? This is a personal choice that needs to be made in every home and then agreed upon by all who live there (which, granted, is not always easy).

Consideration #2

Do you take your dog to visit others? If you do, or plan to, and they are used to climbing up on the sofa, it may cause stress if you visit someone who doesn’t allow their own dog on the furniture. You can imagine the stress that you might cause your friends or family members if you bring your furry friend over and the first thing they do is jump up on the sofa and leave hair, fur, paw prints or other unwanted evidence behind.

Consideration #3

Controlling your dog’s behavior is an important step in making sure that you both create a situation where one understands the other, and there’s no power-play involved. The problem with letting your dog up on the sofa and then trying to stop them from going back on it in the future is that it shows a lack of leadership and dominance that your pooch will pick up on almost immediately. Restricting your pet to the floor shows that you, not they, are the dominant one in the relationship. If that’s something you care or worry about, letting them take advantage of couch privileges may not be the right choice.

What are the Pros of Letting My Dog on the Couch?

The pros are very simple; cuddling, closeness, bonding and a feeling of security for both you and your dog that is pleasurable and positive for both of you. Dogs are highly social creatures and love being near their humans and letting them up on the sofa with you is a great way to bond with them.

What are the Cons of Letting My Dog on the Couch?

The answer to this question depends on how you see your dog; as a member of the family with fur or as an animal that licks itself, is pretty much naked and might have bugs, dirt, sweat, saliva and other stuff that you find kinda’ gross. Plus, let’s face it, dogs aren’t usually as clean as humans. they shed hair and fur and can often have muddy paws, all of which will leave marks and wear down your furniture faster.

If I Let my Dog on the Couch Should I let Them on All the time or Only Sometimes?

For the answer to this see Rule #3, above. (This is one of the more difficult decisions to make about your dog.)

Do I Need to Prepare the Couch to Let a Dog On it, Like a Blanket or Dog Bed?

Again this depends on your specific desires and concerns for you, your dog and your sofa. If you’re not worried that they will soil your sofa occasionally with dirty paws, sweat and other stuff then there’s really no need to prepare anything extra. (The sofa is already more comfortable than the floor, let’s be honest.) If, on the other hand, you want to protect your sofa, or give your dog its own space, then, by all means, give them a blanket or dog bed to lie on while on the sofa.

Is There Any Health or Hygienic Concerns for Letting My Dog on the Couch?

Yes and no. Again, dogs aren’t the cleanest or most hygienic of animals and, if this concerns you, then letting them on the couch will concern you too. If someone in the family has allergies to pet dander or fur then the couch should also be off-limits. If they get fleas, for example, this could negatively affect the next person who sits there too. It’s really a judgment call but, for your dog, doesn’t present any health risks that we know of.

How Should I Clean My Couch, and How Often, If I let my Dog Sit on It?

Another judgment call that depends on how lean’ or irty’ you see your dog. A steam cleaner would be a good choice for cleaning if you choose to do it because it will get out stains and bodily fluids they might have left behind. How often depends on how clean you like your sofa but, if they have their own, special sofa, you might never need to clean it. It’s really your call.

Should I Let My Dog Jump up and Down on the Couch When Getting On or Off of It?

So many judgment calls! This is another one that you need to make. Jumping on the sofa will, over time, wear it out faster and possibly ruin it too, so if you love your sofa and want to keep it looking and feeling good for a longer period of time then no, don’t let them jump. If it’s an older sofa and you don’t care then, by all means, let them have their fun.

When Do I need to Get Steps or a Ramp for My Dog to Get Up on the Couch?

This is one of the more simple questions to answer. If they can’t get up, because they’re too small or too old, but you want them to, steps or a ramp will definitely help.

Setting Some Rules for Sofa Usage

Whether you wish to let your furry friend on the couch or not you need to teach them the rules of the house so that they either know not to, know when they can, and know when to get down if you tell them to. This is vital because if you don’t set rules you may confuse and stress your pup, or create stress for yourself, and nobody needs extra stress.

Rule #1- Free Access at Any Time

This is more a rule for the humans that for your canine companion. If you decide, for example, to let them get up on the sofa any time they wish, but your significant other is chasing them off and scolding them, the dichotomy created will be very confusing for everyone involved and, again, stressful. You need to tell your children which choice you’ve made also so that, when you’re not home, they aren’t letting the family dog up on the couch against your wishes.

Rule #2- Free Access to Specific Furniture Only

If, for example, you decide that there is one special sofa, loveseat or Barcalounger in your home that your pooch can use, teaching them (and the rest of the fam) that this one chair is OK while others are off-limits is your task. It’s not a difficult task in most cases for most dogs although, truth be told, it can be confusing for smaller children. The best thing you can do in this case is to set the rules immediately when your new dog comes home or when you get new furniture, so there’s no confusion.

Rule #3- By Invitation Only

If cuddling with your pet is something you enjoy then you might want to give them access once in a while but not always. Many folks (our team included) love to cuddle up and watch TV, read a book or what have you with their furry friend, and allowing your dog to do so can be very comforting.

This choice is also the most difficult, frankly, because it can confuse your pup quite a bit. One minute you’re saying ’yes’ and the next o’ which, we think you’ll agree, sends mixed messages. It can be even more confusing when your puppy gets up on the sofa with you and you say nothing initially but, after a few minutes, tell them to get down. In this instance they may think you’re scolding them for doing something wrong when they’re used to it being right, again creating stress and confusion. A better choice would be to have a special chair or sofa where you can cuddle and make everything else off-limits.

Rule #4- No Permission To Get on the Sofa, Ever

Although it seems harsh this is actually the easiest of the commands you’ll teach your dog, unless they are a rescue dog and were used to being able to go on the furniture in their old home.

Rule #5- Training Your Dog to Obey the “Off’ Command

No matter which of the first 4 rules you decide to enforce one thing you need to train your dog to do is get off the sofa, or other furniture, directly when you command them. This is a must because if they aren’t trained to listen to this command the power struggle that ensues could cause that stress we’ve mentioned a few times already, for you and your pupper.


Letting your fur baby have access to the sofa is a choice every dog owner needs to make and, once made, that choice needs to be stuck-to so that stress and confusion can be avoided. Whatever choice you make stick to your proverbial guns so that everyone, human and dog, knows the deal and abides by the rules.

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