Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Battle I have lost...

There is one battle with my dogs that I have failed to win. That is preventing them thinking that couches are far more comfortable than the floor.

I have spent almost 18 months fighting this battle. I put obstacles on the couches in my lounge with the aim of discouraging Jamie and Jemma from making themselves at home on my furniture, but to no avail.

Now the behaviourists say that to change a dog's behaviour you have to be absolutely consistent and catch them in the act each and every time. I admit this did not always happen. They are very good at taking the gap when your guard is down.
You also have to give them an alternative behaviour like lying on a nice warm blanket in front of the fire or an extra tasty treat for staying on the floor. I tried this but they still preferred the couch.

In fact I tried everything including shouting and shutting them out of the lounge (Shouting is not OK but time-out for very short periods is OK).
But the truth be told it became too exhausting spending every night in constant battle for the kingdom of the couch.

It also showed me how strong the imprinting period is during the first 4 months of a puppy's life.
Jemma was born in a home where all the beagles had a room filled with old couches and comfy chairs on which they slept. So she grew up seeing her elders ensconced in comfort and believes that this is her right in life. Nothing I have done so far has changed her mind and now Jamie thinks if Jemma can do it, so can I.

So 18 months down the line, I have decided if you can't beat them, join them. I have put a protective cover over one of the couches which all three of us share (with me squashed in the middle). The other two couches have their cushions up ended to discourage any deviant behaviour. It does not look pretty and offends my sense of order. But rather that than endless squabbling with my dogs.

I could have opted to permanently shut them out of the lounge altogether. But that defeats the purpose of why I got them in the first place - to enjoy their company.

However I have drawn the line at the bedroom. I know Jemma loves beds, but no one is allowed in there even if it means keeping the door permanently closed day and night. In fact I still have to keep all the doors in my house closed because one little slip and I still find things disappearing and shredded all over the garden.

My Dad sent me an article about keeping fresh air circulating through your home to keep it hygienic and clean as opposed to stale and yuk.

Huh! Wonder if I will ever get to do that?



  2. Hi Michelle

    Of course, a compromise can be reached - what about designating one couch with a distinctive cover over it as the 'doggy couch?'. This way, the Beagles can do their thing without all your couches needing covers or constant management. Easy to teach - if they approach the wrong couch, give a no reward signal, and guide them to the correct couch. Encourage them on to that one, then give a settle cue and let them chill out there. You dont really even need treats as the comfortable lying down will be its own reward.