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Now, how much do you value your dog as opposed to your furniture? Does your dog’s happiness outweigh your concern for your furniture? Or is your furniture more important?
I’m not trying to snark off at you here. If you’ve been reading my blogs consistently, you know that I’m going to say “To heck with the furniture.” But I’m not going to impose my values on you.
Let me tell you about my friend, Lily. She has five dogs, of various breeds and sizes. She often laughs and says “The dogs own the house; I just pay the mortgage.” Needless to say, her dogs go wherever they want in the house. They sleep on the beds, the couch, and the chairs – anywhere they please.
The funny thing is, Lily used to have rules. She used to say “No dogs on the bed.” Then it was “Okay, on the bed. But not on the sofa.” Then it was “Well, maybe that sofa, but not the other one.” And “Okay, sometimes on the sofa, but only when I say it’s okay.” Finally, she woke up and realized something. Those rules meant nothing. She said to herself, “Those are your mother’s rules, not yours!”
So, what about Lily’s furniture? It is not a happy story. Couches, chairs and beds are speedily destroyed thanks to heavy dogs breaking springs, smaller dogs having accidents, and mid-size dogs depositing hair all over the place.
What does Lily do? She replaces her furniture every few months. She just laughs and says “Odin broke the couch. Big deal, the thrift shop is full of furniture.”
It works for Lily and her dogs. And I’m the last person to tell her she’s doing the wrong thing.
Some people will tell you that you should not allow your dog on the bed or other furniture because it can cause behavioral issues, like aggression. That is true to some extent – a dog may identify a favorite piece of furniture and not allow another dog on it. Dogs have their pecking order, and this shouldn’t be a huge issue. It only becomes an issue if your dog decides that YOU should not be allowed on the furniture. If that happens, you have to take steps immediately to correct the behavior. If your dog snaps at you when you want to sit or lie down, don’t tolerate that behavior. Remove the dog immediately from the furniture and deliver a stern correction.
Now, back to your grandmother’s antique settee. Many dog owners want to keep their pets off specific pieces of furniture. Again, let your dog know that certain items are off limits, and be consistent. “No” should always mean “No,” not just “No for now” or “No unless I’m too tired to make you behave.” Your dog needs to know that being on certain pieces of furniture is not a right; it is a privilege. And believe me, your dog does know the difference between “okay furniture” and “not okay furniture.”
I really love the Majestic Pet Suede Bagel Dog Bed from Amazon.
If you want to allow your dog on your furniture, that is entirely up to you. Some people hate crating – they want their dog to have the entire house as their crate. I can’t find much wrong with that – after all, you let your kids on the furniture, don’t you? And you don’t bemoan the fact that they’re staining it or damaging it in other ways.
If you really want to keep your dog off the furniture, though, you are going to have to set boundaries and stick to them. Teach your dog the meaning of the world “off,” and show him where his own special bed is. Once you have the rules in place, you will be able to leave the house knowing that your dog will understand the boundaries, and will be quite content to occupy his own special bed.
You might be interested to know that according to every single study I have ever read, at least half of dog owners allow their pets to sleep with them. I actually think that the number is probably much higher – I suspect that far more people sleep with their dogs. They just lie about it.
So from my perspective, if you don’t mind having your dogs on the furniture, don’t cave in to people who will tell you that it’s not a good idea. If you love sleeping with your dog, do it. But if you do decide that you want to set boundaries, don’t confuse your dog by saying it’s okay one day but not the next. Make your rules and stick to them. And if not having rules pleases you, that’s fine too.