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So to start off I have seen this question:

Guarding couch

which deals with a problem that occurred in the one incident but it seemed more related to guarding than anything.

Introduction

So I am about to have a new puppy around the house and will probably be posting / seeking much help from this community in the process. She was just born so will have her after some weeks before the transfer so my wife and I are trying to be as informed as we can before hand. We have both owned dogs before, and dog sat many times, but we have one disagreement so I wanted to get some thoughts from people who have more experience and actual evidence.

Question

Is it bad to let a new puppy up on furniture such as our couch?

We will have a separate crate / bed left open for her always so she has her own space so does allowing her as a puppy up on the couch initially create the thought that it is her space as well and she can come up whenever she wants? I have seen where people say to let the dogs up only when they are invited and then they should obey when you tell them to get off but isn't it easier and more repeatable to simply not let them up in the first place? For me I find it confusing for the dogs that sometimes they are allowed but other times they are not so seems harder to enforce the not allowed part.

  • What is your concern in your dog being on the couch? Are you worried about hair or cleanliness? Or are you concerned about the puppy chewing or scratching it? Or is it something else? – Eager to Play Jan 18 '19 at 18:28
  • @EagertoPlay Well perhaps I am wrong in my mentality but doesn't it fall along the lines of not letting them on / in bed as well? I think the problem is more so when you don't want them there, that they think it is their space and have a harder time getting out / moving off as opposed to them not being allowed from the start – Eric F Jan 18 '19 at 19:32
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First of all, all dogs like to be on furniture because it satisfies their instinct to be in a hightened place where they can overlook their surroundings. The physical height can also be an indicator of their rank (I'll come back to that later).

So, is it bad? No.

As far as humans are concerned, there are very different reasons why people don't want their dogs on the couch.

Dirt and hair

Dogs step into dirt, dig through mud and trash, sometimes roll in poop and constantly shed fur. It's no surprise some people don't want that on their couch.

If this is your concern, you can put a blanket or towel on the couch and teach your dog that she's only allowed to sit on there. The blanket can be washed or replaced and the couch stays clean. Depending on how obedient your dog is, it can work so well that she doesn't hop onto the couch at all when her blanket isn't there.

Damage to the couch

Some dogs scratch at soft surfaces to make a bedding for themselves. You could protect the couch with a blanket or scold the dog for doing this. As long as you don't ignore the problem, it's easy to correct this behavior.

Some dogs don't get walks or playtime and start chewig up pillows and furniture out of pure boredom. That's not the fault of the dog, but the owner. If you don't entertain your dog, your dog'll find entertainment all by herself. And you won't like that.

Damage to the dog

Yes, very small dogs have very delicate bones and joints. Some vets recommend not letting small breeds like Chihuahua, small Terriers, Basset Hounds or Dachshunds hop down from a couch because it could lead to increased joint wear in the long run.

Simply provide a ramp or a dog stair.

Dominance

This could be a real problem but is more likely to happen with male dogs than females. As mentioned before, the height of a dog's resting spot may indicate this dog's rank. If a dog has the tendency to dominate the family, allowing him free access to the couch can make the situation worse.

Not letting the dog sit on the couch (or bed, or chair) at all is the most simple way to avoid dominant behavior. Having the dog "ask for permission" and sometimes denying this permission is another way that works, but may look for an outsider like a human bullying the dog on a random whim for no reason at all.

My own (male) dog has different phases when he is more or less dominant. Letting him hop on the couch whenever he likes noticably increases his dominant behavior and has led to agression against us when he didn't want to go off the couch.

Denying him the couch completely has changed his behavior from "dominating all of us" to almost timid in 3 days. But it also decreases the amount of social interaction and petting he gets by a great deal. We opted for the compromize (asking for permission and sometimes being denied) to give him the affection he needs but making sure he knows his place.

Her space?

In the end, your entire house will be "her space". She won't be sad if she's never allowed onto the couch and she won't start terrorizing you if she's allowed to. The couch is just one aspect of your shared life. Whatever you decide, you should both agree to follow the same rules. If one partner never wants the dog on the couch and the other secretly allowes her up, it will be the dog who suffers the scolding and confusion.

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  • "Dog Stairs" are probably a better long-term option than a pillow or box for getting a smaller (or older) dog safely up to the couch. I don't know what they cost, but I've seen a lot of options for them out in the world. – Allison C Jan 18 '19 at 20:44

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