Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Should You Let Your Dog On the Furniture?

By Tamara McRill

I'll be the first to admit we spend an inordinate amount of time vacuuming, shampooing, and unearthing socks and other 'finds' from the furniture we share with our three dogs. For us, the extra cuddle time is worth the extra time spent cleaning. But should our pets – lovable as they are – really be allowed on the furniture?

The correct, but vague, answer is: it depends. Not very helpful, right? Fortunately, there are some specific considerations and tips you can think through before deciding whether your pet should be allowed on the couch or bed.

Washing Away Health Concerns

There are some valid concerns with the healthiness of letting your furry friend up on your furniture. Dogs can transmit some diseases to humans, such as parasite or fungal infections. A lot of these risks can be minimized by being a responsible pet owner and making sure your pet has regular checkups and vaccinations from the vet.

Keep germs and other nasties dogs tend to drag in from the outdoors at bay by gently wiping their paws when they come indoors. Regular coat checks and bathing your dog will also help keep their fur free of anything you don't want transferred to your furniture.

If someone in your home is allergic to dogs, keeping cushions and bedding clean might not be enough to allow the furniture to be safe for that person to sit on. In this case, you may want to keep your pet off of any furniture they might use.

What About Bugs?

Fleas aren't the only pests you have to worry about when dogs are allowed on the furniture. Ants and other bugs drawn by food crumbs are also a possibility, but not more so than if you eat in the living room or in bed. With one dog who refuses to eat unless he gets to take his food to a fabric surface, and two others who enjoy their CANIDAE Snap-Biscuit treats on the loveseat, I can attest to the effectiveness of vacuuming the crumbs up to keep pests away.

Bad Behavior Fears

If you're afraid that letting your pet sit or sleep with you will cause dominance or aggression issues, this isn't necessarily the case. A lot depends on if you correct the 'bad' behavior the first – and every – time it occurs. Your dog should get up when you wish to sit where they are, and not hog all the space when you are sharing a piece of furniture.

The biggest issue we have with our dogs is occasional jealously. Every once in awhile, one will get snippy if another wants to sit on an empty cushion when they are already sitting with us. More often, one will try to jump up with us, when there is clearly no room left, landing on the other dog. In both instances, the dog in the wrong is told to get down.

Do You Love Your Couch?

The same question goes for whatever you are letting your dog sit on. If you love it and they are too young or can't be trusted not to destroy it, then think twice about letting your pet up on that piece of furniture. I learned this the hard way with a chocolate lab puppy and a beloved living room set. It didn't take long to teach him not to shred the backs of the cushions, but the couch and loveseat backs never looked right afterward.

Regardless of if you let your dog claim her own spot on the furniture or not, remember that they too need a comfy spot to call their own, whether it's up next to you or on a nice dog bed at your feet.

Do you let your dog up on the couch? How about in bed?

Photo by Pamela Carls

Read more articles by Tamara McRill


  1. I remember being a child, with our dog Mandy...Mandy wasn't allowed up on the living room furniture or in the dining room, but she WAS allowed on the beds upstairs. Go figure.

    I have cats, and of course they go wherever they please (at least when I'm not home), but I think if I ever had a dog again, I'd allow her on the furniture, if she was a small-ish dog (say up to 25 pounds or so), no peeing issues, etc. No reason not to. It's not like I have good furniture. LOL.

  2. We do! We let her up on the couch and in the bed, but I usually put a different blanket down on the bed before she climbs in. She never chewed on the furniture (knock on wood) but she loved our molding and rugs for a while!

  3. "Should you let your Dog on the Furniture?"
    NOT if the CAT is already on it !!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Laughing a lot over this one. Let's see - my dogs hog the furniture, lay on top of us, jump on the other dogs already on the couch, but they aren't allowed to eat snacks on the couch. Us humans have that problem.

  5. Growing up, my parents never let the dogs up on the furniture. We have cats now, and they pretty much hog whatever piece of furniture they want. LOL. If we ever have a dog, I'm fairly certain we'd let it do the same. :)

  6. I'm a rational adult and I understand the reasons why you should not, but, my answer is YES!! Can't help it... It's just who I am!!

  7. Pip loves the couch and frankly does much less damage than his two feline sisters with their claws. He also sleeps at the end of our bed at night. If we forget to lift him up on the bed at night, he lets us know by barking.

  8. Elka is allowed on the couches, the easy chair, and sleeps with us. If there are more humans in the house, and seats are required, she has a bed on the floor that she can use. If she's hogging the bed, I tell her "move", and she scrunches over.

    I hear tell that some dogs will resource guard a choice spot on the furniture, and that can be a problem, but we've never had that with Elka.

  9. I don't have a couch in my livingroom, just four chairs (2 bigs and 2 mediums). So Stella doesn't get up on the chairs ever, lays about on the floor during the day. Her nighttime bed is in my room, under a desk and she likes it very much. However, she is very storm scared, so if it starts thundering, etc, she gets up on the bed with me for comfort. Thats OK with me, she deserves it! As soon as it stops, she heads for her bed!

    Funny critters, aren't they?


  11. Only if my meowster self invites dat dog on MY sofa!

  12. Not unless he is invited. He gets on my daughter's bed all the time but none of the other beds and he gets on the couch when we ask him to come up. He's not allowed to just jump or walk all over the furniture though. :)

  13. My pets are a part of the family so we do most things together, including sleep and lounge!

  14. Hi Tamara and all, thanks for the great blog.
    I have never owned a dog and am now living with my girlfriend and her dog. Something which is still taking time for me to accept is the dog (an adorable and calm poodle) sleeps IN the bed, on the pillows and in my girlfriends arms, ALL the time. Is this normal? I am a clean freak and would like some reassurance on the hygiene side at least?

    1. Hi William! Yes, it is common for owners to let their pets sleep with them.

      As for the hygiene, that pretty much depends on how clean the dog and bedding are. I personally don't let my dogs in the bed right after they come in from outside, to keep out extra dirt, etc. If you're still concerned, maybe you could get her dog a special pillow or blanket to lay on.

      It's also important that the dog gets regular checkups from the vet, as well as keeping flea and heartworm preventatives up-to-date. That way you further minimize the chance of canine-to-human infections--which are extremely rare to start with. Hope that helps!

  15. We have two dogs and two cats. One of the dogs, Bailey, is mine (and I'm only 18 so I live with my parents). Before I got her, Nelson wasn't allowed on couches as he's a Golden Retriever. Afterwards, since Bailey's a Mini Schnauzer x Beagle, both of them are allowed everywhere.
    I've found that it's made my bond with Bailey closer.
    When I leave my room, she trots along behind me. If I walk around the yard or house, she's my little shadow.
    When we go to the park, she stays within 50 metres of me and checks on me a lot.
    She spends most days sleeping on my bed or on the couch. At night time she's locked in my room to make sure she doesn't chew up anyones things.

    I've also found that since she spends her time in my room on my bed, she wont chew up my things. She'll go after my sisters things or other peoples shoes, but I can leave her alone with my things and she doesn't touch them.

  16. I don't get our mini/toy aussie for a week. I've read a lot about training but wanted to hear from real dog owners.


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