Ask Kathy About Dogs Having "Accidents" On Couches

By Kathy Santo | Updated: April 24 2019

Student’s Question:

“Recently my dog has been having accidents on my new couch (I think he’s trying to get revenge on me because I won’t give him canned food anymore). Should I go back to using his crate when I leave?

Kathy’s Answer:

I feel your pain, truly. And now let me add to it: dogs aren’t vengeful creatures. Your dog doesn’t have the capacity to understand your attachment to your couch; as a matter of fact, dogs think that particular bodily function is a pretty cool thing (hence their penchant for sniffing it out during walks), which blows the whole “canned food revenge” theory.  

However, there are a few realistic reasons that this happened: first, your dog may prefer high ground as a place to eliminate (some like tall grass, some like to be behind a shrub) and when he jumped on the couch he became excited, which can lead to elimination. Physical relief is a pretty strong reinforcement which is why this problem can take a bit of time and lots of supervision to do away with.

There could also be separation anxiety issues, but without further details, I can’t be sure.

My initial guess is that your dog has never been 100% perfect in the housebreaking department and that you’ve had other “surprises/shocks” before.

No matter which one it is, they both carry the same plan: close supervision – no unsupervised field trips to the living room, confinement when you’re not home (his crate should make a come-back) and lots of rewarding when your dog uses the outdoor facilities. Follow those rules perfectly, and the problem will be, forgive me, eliminated forever.

If you’re looking for information on how to housebreak your dog, look no further than right here!

Kathy Santo has spent her entire career as a dog trainer and handler, training dogs and winning over 500 obedience, agility and Canine Good Citizenship titles. Working with her own dogs, she has achieved every competitive obedience title the American Kennel Club (AKC) has offered and earned the prestigious AKC “Obedience Trial Champion” title (OTCh) multiple times.

In Waldwick, Kathy teaches classes, private lessons, and oversees the training of her student’s dogs using her extensive knowledge, experience and intuition to handle problems from the benign to the serious. Her engaging personality has won her the respect and friendship of her many students, who now consider themselves part of her extended family.


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