Should Dogs Be Allowed on Household Furniture?
The debate over whether dogs should be allowed on household furniture is as old as the companionship between humans and dogs itself. It's a topic that has sparked passionate arguments on both sides. In this blog, we’ll dive into this age-old debate, and hopefully, you’ll be able to decide for yourself.
Should dogs be allowed on household furniture? Let’s find out.
The Case for Allowing Dogs on Household Furniture
Let's start with the reasons for allowing dogs on household furniture.
1. Comfort and bonding
Your dog is a member of the family.
Snuggling up on the couch with your dog can be a wonderful way to relax, destress, and spend quality time together.
Dogs are known for being great cuddler's, so allowing your pup on your couch or bed can strengthen your bond.
2. Warmth and security
Dogs are pack animals by nature, and they often seek the comfort and security of being close to their human family members.
Allowing your dog on the couch or bed can provide a sense of warmth, security, and belonging for your pooch.
It can also help soothe separation anxiety when you’re away. Your scent on the furniture can comfort your dog when you're not around. (1)
3. Fewer dog beds
Listen. I love overspending on dogs as much as the next person. But the truth remains, your pup needs fewer dog beds if they are also using your bed as a place to rest.
That’s not just good for your space. It’s also good for your wallet!
Granted, your dog still needs some dog beds of their own. I’d suggest at least two indoors and one outdoors (if you have a yard).
However, if your dog habitually sleeps on the sofa at night, then you won’t need as many designated dog beds around your house.
4. Elevated views
Many dogs love being able to look upon their territory – their kingdom – from an elevated position.
Allowing them on the furniture can satisfy this natural instinct.
It can also help anxious dogs feel more in control of their environment, reducing stress and potential behavioural issues.
Compelling arguments right? Let’s now talk through the case against.
The Case Against Allowing Dogs on Household Furniture
Here are equally valid reasons why some people choose not to let their furry friends on the couch or bed:
Ever seen your dog roll in filth, jump in puddles, or frolic in sand?
That mess can all end up on your sofa or bed if your dog is allowed to climb on them.
Even if you have the cleanest and fastidious pooch, they can still carry harmful parasites or bacteria.
Allowing your dog on your furniture doesn’t always lead to cleanliness issues, but it certainly can.
You may find yourself constantly cleaning and vacuuming to keep your home free from dog-related dirt and odours. (Although, in fairness, you probably do that anyway.)
If you or a family member has allergies, allowing dogs on the furniture can exacerbate the problem.
Dander, fur and saliva can get embedded in upholstery, making it challenging to maintain a hypoallergenic living space.
And guess what? It’s a myth that there are hypoallergenic dogs. Even light-shedding dogs can cause allergic reactions.
“The source of allergic reactions comes through dander — dried, dead flakes of your pet’s skin — that sheds regularly. However, it’s not the dander itself that causes the allergic response. It’s most often due to a protein that’s present in the saliva and urine of dogs and cats.” – The Riviera Allergy Center (2)
So, hate to break it to you. If your dog has skin (which I hope they have), they’re a potential allergen.
3. Behavioural issues
Allowing dogs on the furniture can blur the boundaries between you and your pet.
We never like to think that having a cuddle on the sofa can lead to dominance issues but it can. I've seen it happen!
One minute your dog is a cuddly, sweet pup. The next they are a terror to your household because the boundaries are fuzzy.
Sometimes your dog takes ownership of your sofa or bed and therefore thinks they are the pack leader.
This can lead to aggression and destructive behaviours like stealing and chewing.
Quick storytime: I’ve had a dog become bossy and disobedient when we gave him those privileges. Equally, I’ve had dogs who were perfect angels regardless of that privilege. So it all depends on your pup’s personality.
4. Furniture damage
Chewing, scratching, and digging are natural behaviours for dogs.
And if you haven’t had the pleasure of having a dog “den” on your couch, you’re in for a rude awakening!
Your pup can cause a lot of furniture damage if you let them use whatever they like.
Scratches in your upholstery or broken headboards are frustrating and expensive to deal with. Trust me!
Dogs on Furniture: Finding the Middle Ground
Clearly, both sides have good points. Ultimately the decision comes down to you.
So here are some factors you might want to consider.
1. Designate specific furniture
You can decide to allow your dog on certain pieces of furniture while keeping others off-limits.
For example, I would let my dog on the couch but not the bed.
This way, I can enjoy quality cuddle time together without compromising your sleeping space.
2. Use covers and throws
Invest in washable, dog-friendly covers for your furniture.
These can be easily removed and cleaned to keep your upholstery looking and smelling fresh.
It’ll also protect it from scratches, bite marks and slobber.
3. Setting boundaries
Set boundaries from the beginning.
With proper training, your dog will understand when it's appropriate to be on the furniture and when it's not.
4. Provide dog beds and safe spaces
Give your dog a comfortable and cosy bed of their own.
If they have their own comfy spaces, they’re less likely to want to be on your furniture.
However, even if you do have your pup on your furniture, they need their own beds. (3)
Otherwise, they can exhibit possession aggression over your furniture. It’s no fun arguing with your dog about whose sofa it is!
5. Regular cleaning
No doubt you’re already a keen vacuumer if you have a dog.
But if you do decide to let your dog on the furniture, it’s time to up the ante.
Commit to regular cleaning to minimise the impact of dog hair and odours.
Invest in a good-quality vacuum cleaner to keep your furniture in top condition.
6. Put your comfort first
Your dog may be your baby, but you need to think about your comfort first. If you’re a light sleeper who can’t rest comfortably with your dog in your bed, don’t do it! As much as your dog would love to sleep next to you, you’re no use to them as a responsible dog owner if you never get a good night’s sleep.
You are the authority in your relationship, so ensure that you are comfortable with the furniture your dog can use.
You are not a bad person if you don’t allow your dog on the couch or bed.
This is a personal decision. Plenty of pet dogs live long, happy lives having never napped on a leather sofa. As long as they have their own soft places to rest, they can be perfectly happy!
My Final Thoughts
So should dogs be allowed on your household furniture? The right answer ultimately depends on your personal preferences, your dog's behaviour, and your living situation.
I hope this article helps you weigh up the pros and cons and find a balance that works for both you and your pet.
The takeaway is, you’re not a bad owner for allowing your dog on your furniture. Equally, you’re not a coldhearted owner if you don’t allow your dog on your furniture. The decision rests on you.
My take? I’m perfectly happy to have dogs on the couch if it doesn’t lead to behavioural issues. I would never have a dog on my bed. That’s for my comfort.
But what do you think? Let us know in the comments below!
Even if you do let your dog on your household furniture, they should have their own beds and safe spaces within the home. This will help them have a sense of ownership over their spaces, so they have places to escape to when they want to rest away from other household members.
If you’re about to adopt a dog or puppy, the best type of furniture is made of natural, durable materials like leather. Nylon is also very tough to chew and destroy. Try to choose tables and chairs that are higher than your dog’s height to make it more difficult to steal food and other household items.
- Gibeault, S. January 17, 2023. “Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Causes, Prevention, and How to Stop”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved October 25, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/puppy-separation-anxiety/
- “Is There Really Such a Thing as Hypoallergenic Dogs?”. The Riviera Allergy Center. Retrieved October 25, 2023. https://www.rivieraallergy.com/blog/is-there-really-such-a-thing-as-hypoallergenic-dogs
- Smith, M, and Walter, A. “Why Does Your Dog Need Their Own Bed?”. Pet Coach. Retrieved October 25, 2023. https://www.petcoach.co/article/beds-every-dog-should-have-one/