By Tamara McRill
I'll be the first to admit we spend an inordinate amount of time vacuuming, shampooing, and unearthing socks and other 'finds' from the furniture we share with our three dogs. For us, the extra cuddle time is worth the extra time spent cleaning. But should our pets – lovable as they are – really be allowed on the furniture?
The correct, but vague, answer is: it depends. Not very helpful, right? Fortunately, there are some specific considerations and tips you can think through before deciding whether your pet should be allowed on the couch or bed.
Washing Away Health Concerns
There are some valid concerns with the healthiness of letting your furry friend up on your furniture. Dogs can transmit some diseases to humans, such as parasite or fungal infections. A lot of these risks can be minimized by being a responsible pet owner and making sure your pet has regular checkups and vaccinations from the vet.
Keep germs and other nasties dogs tend to drag in from the outdoors at bay by gently wiping their paws when they come indoors. Regular coat checks and bathing your dog will also help keep their fur free of anything you don't want transferred to your furniture.
If someone in your home is allergic to dogs, keeping cushions and bedding clean might not be enough to allow the furniture to be safe for that person to sit on. In this case, you may want to keep your pet off of any furniture they might use.
What About Bugs?
Fleas aren't the only pests you have to worry about when dogs are allowed on the furniture. Ants and other bugs drawn by food crumbs are also a possibility, but not more so than if you eat in the living room or in bed. With one dog who refuses to eat unless he gets to take his food to a fabric surface, and two others who enjoy their CANIDAE Snap-Biscuit treats on the loveseat, I can attest to the effectiveness of vacuuming the crumbs up to keep pests away.
Bad Behavior Fears
If you're afraid that letting your pet sit or sleep with you will cause dominance or aggression issues, this isn't necessarily the case. A lot depends on if you correct the 'bad' behavior the first – and every – time it occurs. Your dog should get up when you wish to sit where they are, and not hog all the space when you are sharing a piece of furniture.
The biggest issue we have with our dogs is occasional jealously. Every once in awhile, one will get snippy if another wants to sit on an empty cushion when they are already sitting with us. More often, one will try to jump up with us, when there is clearly no room left, landing on the other dog. In both instances, the dog in the wrong is told to get down.
Do You Love Your Couch?
The same question goes for whatever you are letting your dog sit on. If you love it and they are too young or can't be trusted not to destroy it, then think twice about letting your pet up on that piece of furniture. I learned this the hard way with a chocolate lab puppy and a beloved living room set. It didn't take long to teach him not to shred the backs of the cushions, but the couch and loveseat backs never looked right afterward.
Regardless of if you let your dog claim her own spot on the furniture or not, remember that they too need a comfy spot to call their own, whether it's up next to you or on a nice dog bed at your feet.
Do you let your dog up on the couch? How about in bed?