The Dogcharmer: Old tricks for a new pup

When does the new dog get a seat on the sofa?


Hi Tom:

We have a beagle that’s been with us for 9 years. He has run of the house, including couch and bed privileges. We just adopted a German shepherd. We’re not allowing her on the couch or bed, even though she sneaks on when we’re not looking. How long should we wait before we allow her on?

Roger and Carter

Dear Roger and Carter,

Congrats on your new family addition. My first thought was that it’s so much easier to prevent unwanted behavior than to correct it. In this case it’s more about granting a privilege, perhaps prematurely.

Dogs, like people, often “test” to see what they can get away with. Assuming you’re old enough to decide whom you want to share your bed with, if you don’t mind sharing your couch or bed with GS, that’s fine with me, AFTER she’s a well-mannered, cooperative lady. If GS is reasonable and harmonious about “coming, staying, off, leave it, lie down,” she’s ready to be granted sharing personal space. For the couch, I’d suggest placing a towel or blanket on the couch area you’re willing to share, and telling her “OK” to that spot. Initially, if she gets up without you telling her it’s OK, or doesn’t go to the designated spot, I’d tell her “Off!” and gently pull her off by her “handle” if she doesn’t respond. Her handle is a 4-foot-long, thin, light, piece of leash with the handle cut off that she drags when somebody’s around to supervise.This way your hands don’t go to her negatively, pulling her by her collar. Hands go to her for petting, praise, and treats. The “handle” gets cut shorter and shorter as GS gets more and more cooperative, until it’s not needed.

If you decide your bed is too crowded with 12 legs instead of 8, it’s OK! No guilt if beagle is allowed on the bed and GS is not, as long as you’re consistent. GS is likely to adapt to “this is the way it is” (if you’re consistent!). Actually, many shepherds will find a people bed too warm for comfort.

Stay in touch, and thank you for rescuing another dog by being an adopter.

The Dogcharmer

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