Labradors love to jump on everything. They jump on you when you get home, they jump on the cat when they’re rambunctious… And they jump on the couch when they’re not supposed to.
To help you keep your labrador off the couch, I’ve compiled a list of 10 surefire ways to ensure your lab doesn’t mess up your cushions and diminish the quality of your sofa.
Create consistent rules
Consistency is key in many facets of life ‒ and believe it or not, keeping your labrador off the couch is one of them.
Before you employ any of the following strategies, you need to hold a house meeting and ensure everyone understands the rules. All of the tricks and tactics in the world won’t teach your lab to stay off the couch if someone in the family routinely lets them on.
After you’re done reading this article, I suggest you make a list of the strategies you intend on using and make your family, roommates, or whoever else you live with and make them aware of the rules.
You can pin the rules to the fridge, or take a picture of them and send them in a group text message. No matter how you do it, just make sure everyone is on board.
Use a baby gate
One of the easiest ways to keep your labrador off the couch is to place a baby gate around the perimeter of the couch. As long as your dog is respectful of the barrier, they should be dissuaded from jumping on your cushions and find another place to lay down.
Of course, this is only really viable when nobody is home. Stepping over a baby gate every time you want to lie down for a few minutes will get old fast. If you have a baby gate lying around though, this is a pretty immediate way to keep your lab off the couch while you figure out a more sustainable long-term strategy.
Use the Couch Defender
Baby gates work in a pinch, but they certainly aren’t ideal for everyday life. Picking them up, folding them, and storing them every time you enter the living room just isn’t a viable way to live.
If you need some kind of physical block to keep your lab from jumping on the couch, I recommend using something made specifically for that purpose: the Couch Defender (available on Amazon).
The Couch Defender is basically a giant slinky that expands to completely cover the width and length of your couch. Once this device is wet up, there is literally no way for your lab to get on the couch.
The feature that makes it worth buying is its extremely compact form. When it isn’t a giant slinky, plastic buckles hold it together and make it the size and shape of a large dinner plate. This makes it easy to store in between your couch and the wall, or in some other inconspicuous location.
Whenever you want to prevent your lab from jumping on the couch, just take it out and unbuckle it. It will instantly expand to the size of your couch, and you can rest easy knowing your couch is protected.
Teach your lab the “off” command
While physical impediments are generally quite effective, removing them every time you want to use the couch makes them an annoying thing to implement. And if they manage to break through the barriers, good luck getting them off the couch without a bunch of frantic yelling and collar pulling.
That’s why teaching your lab the “off” command is an extremely effective way to keep your couch safe. Your dog does need to be receptive to commands in order to use this though ‒ if you’re unable to teach them the “sit” command, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to teach them to get “off” the couch.
If you do want to teach your dog the “off” command, you’re going to need some treats… and unfortunately, you’re also going to need to let your dog on the couch for a bit. If this makes you uncomfortable, you can cover the couch with towels or sheets to protect it from hair or scuffs.
Once the couch is prepared, sit down on it with the bag of treats. Call your lab over, and say “Up!” until they jump on the couch. Mark their jumping with a verbal cue like “Good job!” and give them a treat.
Next comes the reason you’re doing this: teaching the “Off!” command. Say “Off!” and toss a treat on the floor. Once your lab jumps down, give another verbal cue.
After repeating this process several times, start removing the treat bribes. Eventually, your lab should get up and off the couch with a verbal command only, and you’ll be able to save your couch from harm with a single word.
Now, there’s a pretty good chance this will only work when you’re at home. Even if your frequent “Off!” commands work seemingly teach your lab to stay off the couch, they may be thinking something along the lines of “Oh I can’t jump on the couch when my owner is home.” and not “Oh I can’t jump on the couch at all.” So when you leave for the day, your lab might just go back to their couch jumping ways.
The best way to prevent this is honestly to place a physical barrier on the couch when you leave. You can use the baby gate or Couch Defender I mentioned earlier, or you can try the more budget-friendly approaches coming up next in the list.
Remove couch cushions when you’re not home
If you don’t want to use a physical obstacle and your lab won’t respond to commands, your best bet is to mitigate the damage and remove the cushions whenever you leave the house. The lack of a soft place to sit on the couch should be enough to dissuade your pup from jumping up.
Use positive reinforcement
No matter which direct prevention method you end up going with, positive reinforcement is always a smart way to reinforce your lab’s good behavior.
Whenever you notice your lab refraining from jumping on the couch, give them a pet and a reaffirmation in a positive tone. Likewise, do the same if your lab ever jumps off the couch after being on it. Your doing this will help them understand that they aren’t supposed to be on the couch, which should encourage them to stay on the floor and save your cushions.
Cover your couch in aluminum foil
This one might sound a bit weird, but trust me ‒ it works. The crinkling sound that aluminum foil makes may be annoying when you’re in the kitchen, but it’s an excellent deterrent for dogs who want to wander into (or onto) places they shouldn’t.
Whenever you leave for the day, tear off a few pieces of aluminum foil and place them over the cushions. You can test if this will work by crinkling aluminum foil near your dog and gauging their reaction. If they don’t seem to like it, it will probably be an effective deterrent.
Use chair mats
If aluminum foil doesn’t do the trick, you can up your game by cutting up some chair mats and placing them prickly side up. The reason aluminum foil might not do the trick is there is no physical deterrent ‒ just a sound-based one.
If you make it a bit painful for your lab to jump onto the couch, they’ll take the hint pretty quickly that they shouldn’t be doing it. Just test the prickliness of the mat undersides before setting them up ‒ you want it to be a minor deterrent, not something so sharp it could be damaging to their paws.
Use a crate
If all else fails, there’s always the option to crate your labrador when you’re not around to supervise their behavior. I only include this as a last resort, as your lab will not enjoy being crated whatsoever. But if they can’t control themselves and are continuously drawn to jumping on your couch, you might not have a choice.