A client of mine emailed me with a question, and I thought it would be a great topic to post to The Woof Blog about. I figured, if he is having this issue, so are other people.
My client, J.K, emailed me this question.
I have a question for you. How do you stop a dog from rubbing up against the furniture. We just got a new Golden Retriever, and when he rubs against the chair he moves it several feet. Please let me know.
This is how I answered him.
Congratulations on your new dog. I hope the two Corgi’s are getting along well with him. For your issue, I have a couple of ideas.
From a controlled dog training point of view, you need to have your dog on a leash. If you cannot control him through the leash, you will not be able to correct the bad behavior, or tell him what you want. And, if he moves away from you, then you have absolutely no control at all.
When you are ready, allow the dog to start the bad behavior of rubbing against the furniture. He needs to do this so you can correct him and show him this is an unwanted behavior. Immediately, say NO! and give a quick pop on the leash. You only need to get his attention so he stops the behavior. You do not want to be so rough that you hurt your dog, or too gentle so the dog doesn’t listen. This may take some practice to get it right. Some dogs are more sensitive than others.
As soon as your dog stops the unwanted behavior of rubbing against the furniture, give him tons of happy praise. Lay it on thick, tell him he is a good boy, pet and rub him, and make him feel great that he stopped rubbing against the chair. You may also use treats, or his favorite toy.
Repeat this training, and try to set him up so he tries to rub against the chair again. Again, immediately give the command, then the correction, then the unbelievably happy praise.
Repeat this a few times, and end on a positive outcome. Do not over-do it for one session. You will have plenty of time to repeat this exercise daily, or as needed. The goal is for your dog to learn that rubbing against the furniture is not acceptable, and he stops doing it. You should aim for your dog needing less and less correction, and just listening to your NO! command, to even where just a snap of the finger, or a look from you will stop him from even wanting to rub on the furniture.
Also, this is very important. You want to give the command and correction before he even does the unwanted behavior. You must look at your dog’s body language, and he will tell you when he is just about to rub against the chair, or even when he is just thinking about it. You need to OWN the chair. This is when the NO! command should be given, ultimately. Then, when your dog snaps out of that thought and turns his attention toward you, give plenty of praise to him. And, praise yourself too. You have trained your dog.
Another thought I had is to set up the chair to train your dog for you. Take several aluminum cans, place loose change, bolts, nuts, or washers in the can, and tape the top closed. You are making a shake can, so you won’t need to put too much in the cans. Just enough to make a lot of noise when shaken.
Set these cans up on the chair in several places, so that if the chair is jolted, the cans will fall to the floor and make a lot of noise. So, if your dog is not on the leash under your control, and goes to rub against the chair, the cans will fall to the floor and startle your dog into stopping. The chair is training your dog not to rub against it.
Training through the leash is the best method, but you can incorporate both methods.
So, if you are having this same problem, use these methods and you should have your dog trained not to rub against the furniture in no time. You can also adapt this exercise to fit other similar problems you may be having.
If you have other ideas to stop this behavior, please comment and let everyone know. There are always a lot of ways to do things.