When you go into your patio, what you want is to find your chair ready and waiting, without having to deal with an unexpected occupant—or the hairy remnants of its presence. This sort of problem does have quite a few solutions, and many of them can be executed without too much effort on your part. That’s what we are here for: to discuss how to keep dogs off of patio furniture in outdoor space.
No, it’s not to get back at you, or to deny you your well deserved comfort. As much as some people would like to believe otherwise, dogs don’t have that sort of malice.
In most cases, a dog will hop onto a couch or similar furnishing for the same reason you do: it’s comfortable.
Having said this, is it bad to let a dog occupy a chair or a bed? More often than not, it will come down to personal preference on the owner’s part; some people don’t mind dealing with hair on the upholstery, or they like the company, and in these cases, then giving the dog this liberty is perfectly okay.
Certain dogs, however, can develop a form of territorial behavior, which they manifest by growling, curling their lips or even snapping when a human approaches the couch they are occupying. If this happens, then a professional should get involved so as to modify the dog’s behavior.
How It Should Not Be Done
Most dog people know this, but there’s no harm in saying it: yelling at the dog or dragging it out of the chair in question will not work. The dog may get defensive, or get hurt upon getting startled off the furnishing.
Having gotten this out of the way, we can now move on to what brings us here.
Effective Ways to Keep Dogs Off Patio Furniture
Whichever method you choose, you should make sure to get everyone in the house involved. If one person is permissive enough, the dog might get the idea that getting on the furniture is actually allowed, thus thwarting your best efforts.
1. Create a Special Area For the Dog
As we said before, your dog’s motivation for getting on the furniture is comfort, more often than not. With that in mind, you can allocate an area for him to lounge, close to your favorite chair.
Place a nice bed, and toys he likes, and don’t forget to reward him with praise and treats when you see him occupying this area.
Alternatively, you can set aside a portion of the backyard for your dog to use while he is out there, fenced off so as to separate it from the rest of the outdoor area.
Bring in toys, a dog house and even a pool for the hotter season, so he will be quite happy to be there rather than in the patio and on your chairs. Positive reinforcement (praise and treats) can be of help too.
2. Pet Supervision
If you can’t (or won’t) set up a separate area for your dog, what you can do is keep an eye on him while he is running around the backyard. Take a spot near that chair he keeps favoring with his presence, but do your best to keep out of sight.
If and when he comes towards the chair, startle him with a sudden, loud noise, when he hops on. If you do this consistently, he will come to think that him leaping onto the chair is triggering that unpleasant sound, and he will stop doing it.
3. Add Plants That Deter Dogs from the Patio
As you may or may not know, some of the scents we humans find pleasant (or easy to ignore) are actually loathsome to more sensitive noses like those of dogs.
Chili peppers, citronella, any sort of citrus, and lavender are all great choices for placing in the vicinity of your patio, to act as an invisible barrier.
4. Use Dog Repellents
This draws on the same principle as the plant method: smell. Dilute some vinegar, place it into a spray bottle and apply to the furniture you wish to protect. For this, white vinegar is better, as it won’t leave any stains on the upholstery.
You can also prepare a potpourri using citrus peelings, infuse it with citronella oil and water, and either place it near your seating area or separate it into smaller packets to place between the cushions.
Worth noting: essential oils, while often recommended as repellents, are generally considered unsafe for dogs. In our opinion, it is best to avoid using them.
5. Dog Training
As mentioned before, if the dog happens to develop a territorial attachment to the couch, i.e. it growls or snaps when a human approaches, then the issue is best left to a professional.
However, if you are a dog enthusiast, and your furry pal has not shown any possessive tendencies, then there are a few things for you to do which, with due diligence, can improve your dog’s habits.
Some people are fans of the targeting technique which, once taught to the dog, can be applied to this no-furniture situation. Alternatively, you can try the following approach, which will yield better results if you start it when the dog is somewhat hungry—and therefore, more eager to score some treats.
- Begin by picking a cue word, such as ‘ground’, ‘down’, or ‘floor’.
- When the dog is on the furniture, say your cue word; give it a second, then toss a treat on the floor, making the motion wide enough for your dog to notice. Once it’s down, you can either sit on the spot that was just vacated, or follow up with a different activity, such as playing or petting. The point here, is to make the dog forget about the couch for the time being. Repeat a few times over the following days as you see fit.
- After ten or fifteen repetitions, say your cue—only, this time, make the throwing motion without actually tossing a treat on the floor. Instead, offer it from the opposite hand, or straight out of the treat bag sitting on the shelf. After performing this modified routine another ten to fifteen times, you can start making it so the dog gets the treat only sometimes, not always.
- Gradually make the treat delivery more and more rare. You don’t have to eliminate it entirely, though; this will keep the dog on its toes, always responding to your prompt in hopes that, this time, there might just be a treat waiting.
Throughout this process, as you have noticed, treats become more and more rare as time goes by. This should not apply to praise.
Always show your dog what a good boy or girl he or she is with positive words and pettings, even if there is no treat.
6. Block Your Dog’s Access to the Patio Furniture
Rather than teaching anything new to the dog, this one focuses on preventing it from co-opting the furniture in the first place. This can be done in a few ways:
- Place items such as boxes or upside-down chairs on top of the couch.
- Take the furniture into storage when it is not being used, or place the entire thing upside-down; even something as simple as removing the cushions might make a difference.
- Set a special mat on top of the furnishing. While often recommended by enthusiasts and even some experts, actual customer experience varies: some animals will walk, or even lounge, right on top of the mat, utterly defeating its purpose.
Bonus: Consider Protecting the Furniture
While you’re finding the right alternative for getting your dog to leave your chair alone (or if you decide that you don’t mind it occupying that prime real estate from time to time), you can always place a slipcover on it. That way, you don’t have to worry about pet hair.
However innocent your dog’s motives may (usually) be, you don’t have to settle for letting it claim your furniture. All it takes is some patience, and due diligence. In severe cases—or if you simply happen to not have the time or the energy—, there’s always the option of calling a professional to get the job done. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt if your cherished friend gets a dedicated corner to lounge comfortably by your side!
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