Can my dog go on the sofa or bed?

Can my dog go on the sofa or bed?

The topic of whether your dog is allowed on the sofa or bed creates a lot of confusion. Sometimes dog people are discouraged from doing this because the dog becomes “dominant.” Tips on the topic “You have to be the boss” are circulating on the Internet. All nonsense. The dominance theory is an outdated image of the dog-human relationship and has now been refuted. 

You can decide for yourself whether you want to give your dog a place next to you. If you don't want your dog to take up space on the sofa or in the bed, then that's legitimate and okay. If you allow your dog to sit on the sofa or bed, there are conditions attached. 

The relationship between you and your dog will not be jeopardized on the sofa or bed as long as it is stable beforehand. If a discussion begins on the sofa or bed, a basis for discussion has been laid beforehand. This means that a sofa doesn't ruin your upbringing, your dog doesn't take you seriously anymore, or he's taken over the world. If there is a set starting level in your relationship where you can easily prohibit your dog from doing things that you allow him to do, then the sofa or bed is not a problem for the time being. Nevertheless, there are character traits or behaviors in dogs that make a clear ban on sofas and beds sensible.

The decision as to whether your dog can come to your berth to cuddle is a personal decision with requirements. 

Whether your dog is allowed on the bed or sofa depends on factors that we will explain to you. As always, there is no clear yes or no answer. The answer is: That depends on whether...

Why dogs like the sofa and our bed

There are many characteristics of your dog that speak in favor of the sofa or bed. As a rule, the sofa or bed is much more comfortable than the dog bed. Your dog will notice the quality equally. Because you probably spend a lot of time in bed or on the sofa at home, these two places are the places where your dog can be particularly close to you. On the one hand, this can be social and promote bonding. On the other hand, being around you all the time can lead to paranoia and therefore stress.


We spend a lot of time in our bed or on our sofa. The comfort of the sofa and bed is important to us and is the decisive purchasing decision. No wonder our dog likes the sofa or couch for the same reason we do - they're both comfortable. 

Check your dog's dog bed: 

  • Does your dog prefer soft or hard dog beds? 
  • What material does your dog prefer to lie on?
  • If your dog could choose, what shape would his dog bed be? 
  • Where is the dog bed placed? 


It's okay for your dog not to like everything he gets. The dog bed you choose is not necessarily the dog bed your dog needs. Our dogs deserve comfort, which is why we recommend you buy one or two needs-oriented dog beds instead of 3-4 that match your furnishings. 

By offering your dog two dog beds, you grant his ego needs and offer your dog a choice. Both are essential building blocks of your dog’s basic needs. 


Contact lying – oxytocin

Dogs want to be close to us. Whether they are cuddled up very close to us or lie at a distance is secondary. Contact lying is when dog and animal or dog and human lie close together. When lying in contact, physical contact can occur, but it doesn't have to. Bonding hormones are released while lying on contact. Among other things, the so-called cuddle hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin builds a close bond between you and your dog and creates togetherness. Oxytocin also reduces stress and anxiety in you and your dog. 

Contact lying on the sofa or bed is ideal because it gives you and your dog a comfortable lying position.

Possible training problems with the sofa or bed

If you want to offer your dog a place next to you on the sofa or bed, you have to watch your dog. Behaviors that are highly territorial, associated with stress or conquering should result in your dog being completely banned from the sofa or bed. 

viewing areas

Dogs love places where they have a good view of things. Viewing places include a sofa, bed, places in front of the front door, places by the window, etc. A viewing place makes strategic sense for your dog so that it can exercise its natural territorial behavior. For you as a dog owner, increased territorial behavior requires action. 

Viewing areas do not offer your dog relaxation, but rather allow your dog to constantly be in work mode. The more your dog “works” from his vantage point, the higher his stress level is. 

If your dog is the type of dog that shows strong territorial behavior, then viewing places such as the sofa and bed are a taboo. 


nice to know - Territorium

A territory is a limited area that your dog and his family (others and you) live in. The territory is visited regularly. You can think of it as a kind of patrol. Your dog regularly marks his territory by barking, defecating, urinating, pawing, growling, or barking. And ultimately, your dog is defending his territory.  

Territorial behavior is completely natural behavior for your dog. However, reinforcing territorial behavior with a sofa or bed is pointless and unnecessary. The workload of scouting, marking, guarding and defending increases your dog's stress levels, which in turn leads to health problems.  

His territory is important to your dog because:

  • it is the location of a food source,
  • it has secure social contacts,
  • it generally minimizes the dangers and therefore offers safety. 

Stalking / paranoia

Having a healthy relationship with your dog is an essential starting point in dog training. Healthy means that your dog doesn't feel the need to follow you wherever you go. Paranoia in dogs may seem cute at first, but it is a serious problem. 

Start a test: Stay in a room with your dog. You are sitting on the sofa, your dog is lying in his dog park. As soon as you get up and go to the bathroom, what does your dog do? Is he following you? Or does he stay put? As soon as your dog follows you, it is a sign that your dog is not relaxing. Paranoia leads to constant stress. Stress that you increase through the sofa or bed. If your dog is constantly chasing you, you should create boundaries and create a distance between you and your dog. You can create the first limit by no longer allowing the sofa or bed to be used as a place for your dog to sleep. In further training steps, you must gradually reduce the pursuit through boundaries such as a locked door or a ceiling training.

Engaging behavior

Unlike humans, dogs communicate predominantly non-verbally. Body language is to your dog what words are to humans. Room management is also part of your dog's communication. For our dogs, space is a resource that must be managed by you as a human. Dogs react very sensitively to spatial boundaries. Your job is to allocate the resource space or, if necessary, deny it. 

Does your dog jump straight to the door as soon as the doorbell rings? He then takes up your space as you walk towards the door. Is your dog getting in the way in the middle of the apartment? Then he takes up your space. 

Your dog's engaging behavior must be stopped by allocating space. This also includes the sofa and bed. It's best to use a house leash and clearly assign your dog his place. Ban the sofa and bed for now, use the house leash as an aid and show your dog where his place and lying area is. 


Actively release the sofa and bed

It makes sense to divide your dog's behavior according to the traffic light system. The traffic light system allows you to communicate clearly and fairly with your dog. 

  • Green = Allowed until I forbid it
  • Orange = Forbidden until I allow it
  • Rot = Always forbidden
When you think about a traffic light, you know that you are absolutely not allowed to drive on a red light and that you may face a fine if you do. Although you have to be careful with orange, it is not completely forbidden to drive through orange at the traffic lights. If it's green, you're free to go. Just like the traffic light system in road traffic, you can imagine the traffic light system in dog training. 
Divide the sofa and bed into the traffic light system. If your dog behaves very territorially, chases you a lot or acts in an overbearing manner, the sofa or bed will be red until further notice and therefore always forbidden until the behavior changes. If your dog does not show any of the dangers mentioned, you can classify the sofa or bed as green or orange. 
  • Rot: It's a taboo and is never allowed. Neither at home nor outside. In your inner attitude, this behavior must feel like your dog is running onto a highway, so red alert. Your dog is not allowed on the sofa or bed and is consistently sent down every time. There are no exceptions. 
  • Orange: Behavior that your dog is only allowed to do if you explicitly allow him to do so is most of your dog's behavior. Your dog must not beg to be allowed on the sofa or bed. You can invite your dog onto the sofa or bed if you feel like it. Give your dog a clear signal like “Hop!” or “Come up.”  Try to actively introduce phases during which your dog is not allowed up on the sofa or bed for a longer period of time in order to keep his expectations low and not to cause too much frustration.
  • Green: Anything that does not require your specific permission or approval counts as behavior that is permitted until you prohibit it. We personally do not recommend allowing your dog unrestricted access to the sofa or bed. The reason for this is your dog's expectation and the space management that you as a human are entitled to. You can use aids so that you can clearly communicate to your dog when he is allowed on the sofa or bed. As soon as you want to allow your dog on the bed or sofa, you can put a cozy blanket on it. Your dog will understand when he can come to you and when not. The blanket is a release without you having to prohibit, release or correct beforehand and therefore a nicer communication.
You can download the free traffic light system if you are registered in our member area. This is completely non-binding and there are no costs to you.