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Pets are exceptional companions and an important part of the family. But unlike a husband or daughter, they can leave paw prints on your couch or have an urge to scratch your carpet. It’s just normal cat and dog behaviour. Still, there are different ways you can teach your furry friend some boundaries. Here are some of the tricks that have worked for us.

Should pets be allowed on furniture?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. Whether or not your pet is allowed on places like your sofa or bed is a matter of personal preference. What’s more important is that you make that decision early on and that everyone in your home sticks to it. Mixed signals from different people will confuse your pet, so consistency is key.

Provide a comfortable alternative

Pets love being around us – especially when we’re relaxing on a comfy bed or sofa. So it’s only natural that they’d want to join in on the comfort. To try to convince them otherwise, you will need to provide an alternative that is just as attractive, like a cosy, good-quality bed. Place it near you (consider having more than one, for different rooms) and gradually train your cat or dog to go to it, rewarding them with treats when they do.

Make your furniture less desirable

While dogs usually respond well to training, many of our feline friends will simply ignore our commands (we’ve been there). So if the problem is a cat that climbs on furniture (or likes to sharpen her claws on it) you’ll need to give her something more exciting to play with. A sturdy cat tree or scratching post can be the perfect space for a cat to enjoy all her favourite activities: jumping, climbing, scratching or sleeping. If your cat seems a bit reluctant at first, sprinkling some catnip on the post or tree should do the trick.

Natural repellents like Bitter Apple Spray are also effective when used on furniture, power cables, or any surface you’d like to keep your furry friend away from. Alternatively, you can try using double-sided sticky tape or aluminium foil to help keep inquisitive cats off kitchen worktops and similar surfaces.

Teach them the command ‘Off’

Anytime your dog or cat jumps on your furniture, say your cue word (in this case, ‘off’) and point towards the floor. Do this while trying to tempt them down with treats, either holding them in your hand or tossing them on the floor. Repeat this over the following days, this time only giving the treat once your pet has jumped down. Pets pick up things through association, so over time they’ll learn to respond to the command without you having to rely on treats.

Give your pet more exercise

Destructive behaviour in pets can often be a sign of boredom. If you suspect your furry pal has pent-up energy that needs to be released, giving them more exercise can be a great way to solve this. If you tire them out with a good playtime session or a long, satisfying walk, they’ll be much less likely to take their frustration out on your belongings.

Training pets is all about positive reinforcement and trust rather than punishment or fear. It can be difficult at times, but remember a lot of good can come out of it too: from understanding your pet’s needs better to boosting your confidence in each other.