My Dog Isn’t Allowed To Sit On The Sofa, Sleep On Our Bed, To Eat Leftovers. Am I Just Mean?

imageI class myself as a dog lover. Meet Florence our 20 month old Rhodesian Ridgeback. She’s all kinds of crazy, and I did question our sanity several times after we got her when my son was only 9 months old and I thought I would tear my hair out. But as she’s matured and settled in, she’s now a big part of our family. She’s often surprisingly gentle with my 2 year old son (although she has her bouncy moments), makes us laugh and adores my husband with something akin to hero worship.

Throughout my life I have always owned a dog, the brief exception of the three years my husband and I lived in a flat. I remember the death of my first dog like the trauma it was, and at thirteen years old sobbed for days because I knew the world would never be the same again. I never want to live in a dog-less house. They are funny, affectionate, loveable and they also make me feel safe.

But and this may be a big BUT I also think there is a layer of craziness that seems to be growing with dog ownership. I strongly believe that dogs are awesome, but they are pets, they’re not human and we shouldn’t treat them as such.

Since I originally started writing this article, there have also been a devastating spate to babies killed by pet dogs. There are just no words for how horrendous this is. I just cannot begin to imagine how those poor families are coping or feeling. But I will go back to my original point, dogs are pets, they are animals and as adorable as yours and mine is, all it takes is for them to snap one time. As owners we must stop anthromophising dogs, love them yes, but do not believe them to be human.

We have a few simple rules in our house, maybe you think I’m mean? But this means that:

1. Dogs Aren’t Allowed On The Furniture
Not on the sofa, not on the beds, not on our laps (unless we sit on the floor with them). Ok there is a practical element in that my dog at 40kgs is the size of a small pony, but even if I had a small dog this would the rule.

I mean seriously, they can be quite smelly, they are regularly muddy, they puke without notice, they have sharp things called claws, they like to spread out. Why would you want that on your bed/sofa?

2. They Don’t Get Leftovers
My husband and I try very hard to ensure our dog doesn’t get overweight. Our previous dog had very bad arthritis, so weight management was essential to keep him moving. But I have since then developed a bit of a dislike to seeing overweight pooches, like they’re missing out on their running and playing potential. A bit prejudiced of me I know given my own weight battles! For this reason our dog doesn’t get any food leftovers, only her normal food, training treats and denta-sticks. With the odd fresh meaty treat. She doesn’t know any different.

3. They’re Not Allowed Upstairs
This wasn’t originally the case and the rule came in place after our previously mentioned arthritic dog nearly had a nasty accident. I was about 6/7 months pregnant at the time and his legs gave out and he came tumbling down the stairs towards me. I remember the look on his face as he desperately tried to stop the fall in the end he dug his claws into the carpet and I grabbed his bottom and between the two of us we got him upstairs (my husband was out). After then we decided he was no longer able to go upstairs and at first he would cry at night or try and run up the stairs even when he couldn’t :-(. When we bought Florence home to save this in the future, we decided on rule 3. But actually I hindsight I don’t think it’s unhealthy to have a human only area of the house.

4. Humans Come First
While our home is also our dog’s home, humans should and will always come first. This means if a guest comes to our house who is afraid of dogs, within reason, the dog will be shut in a different room. Human needs always supersede doggy ones. Although it is important this means they are still well cared for.

5. Children And Dogs Are Never Left Unattended
We have lots of baby gates in our house. More than is needed for a single troublesome little toddler, and this is quite simply in order for us to create separate zones between dog and child. Sometimes this is because the dog is being too rambunctious, sometimes because my two year old is, and the dog needs a break. It gives me places to put the dog if I need to run to the loo or the door and know that she is not in the same room as my child. You just never know what could happen and this has been a rule in our house since we brought our son home from the hospital.

It’s not just about this of course, I am going through an education process with my son about what is acceptable behaviour with a dog. Tail pulling for example gets an immediate time out. But I want them to grow up happily together, and this means educating my son as much as my dog on acceptable behaviours around each other, so they can be little boy and doggie best friends :-).

Points 1 and 3 however do not apply to the cat because, honestly you try *snort*.

So, what do you think? Do you agree? Or do you think I’m a mean doggie mummy? 😉

14 thoughts on “My Dog Isn’t Allowed To Sit On The Sofa, Sleep On Our Bed, To Eat Leftovers. Am I Just Mean?”

  1. Great post!! I’m amazed that you are able to keep to all of that but also slightly jealous! I would love to not have our cats on the sofa, on our beds or upstairs generally!
    I don’t think you’re mean, pets are very much pets and it’s great that you have set clear boundaries.

  2. I agree with 2, 4, and especially 5!

    Our Hound doesn’t get leftovers either, because of the poss weight problems and also because human food isn’t always good for dogs. She gets her meals, kongs, and training treats (which are pretty constant as we’re into positive training. So lying quietly will always get a treat :-))

    As for 4 – frightened humans and bouncy dogs don’t mix; it’s not fair on either of them.

    5 is just common sense. Kids and dogs both need to be trained to understand each other and should never be left alone. Though I will say that all the research done on dog attacks shows that the dog had never been socialised with humans, particularly kids, and was in most cases suffering from some sort of neglect, if not actual abuse.

    As for 1 and 3, I think that’s personal choice, and not mean unless the dog isn’t getting enough human contact and socialisation. Which yours obviously is. Our choice has always been that our Hounds are allowed on the furniture, and sleep in our bedroom. We accept the occassional muddy paws (we have throws) and as for space in bed, we added an extra bed on when we had 2 🙂 Current Hound has her own bed and starts off in that, usually joining us about 3 am. 😀 Really, whatever works so all are happy is what matters 🙂

    • How does that work when you and your partner have ‘adult time’? Asking as taking dog to a one room cabin this weekend. Our dog sleeps in kitchen with door closed, same rule when left when we go out, isn’t allowed on sofa or in our bedroom. He has a crate mattress for living room which he loves to cost into. Thanks.

  3. Excellent – bang on and pretty much exactly we do.seems that so many people round us don’t even understand all the reasons for proper training, let alone house rules. And after dog attack this week I’ve added extra sub-rule to 4 so there’s never any question in our minds: the baby especially and people in general comes first whether or not that means beloved pet is left behind and killed.

  4. Hi Donna – if you see my disclaimer at the bottom, I cannot keep our cat off the bed or sofa, the little monkey. But I have pretty much managed to stop him going on the worktops (while we’re in the room anyway). I do think sometimes people forget that animals are pets.

    @Suzanne thanks for your great comment. I did have a little giggle that you added a bed for your dogs onto your bed and yes it is complete personal choice if you want them on your furniture or not. More of a not for me, obviously 😉

    Like you, our dog gets kongs and plenty of dog treats, we find as she walks a lot off the lead in the woods everyday, she needs extra treats for the cals anyway.

    Totally agree on number 4, the dog doesn’t understand why the human is frightened and often acts inappropriately. I also have a lot of visiting toddlers and that can overwhelm both dog and toddler, for that reason I often shut her away then too (she’s so used to it, she happily sleeps).

    5. Agree, but I am not sure people always understand this. I think with dog attacks there is a lot more going on than the media ever tell us. Neglect, abuse, poor socialisation etc are no doubt big elements. Really so sad.

    @Tom thanks for your comment. Training and socialisation is so important with dogs. I think it’s a shame a lot of dogs get labeled as dangerous when in fact it’s more about their upbringing. We’re actually due to have another baby in the next couple of months and I would hope to never have to re-home or heaven forbid kill our dog due to issues. There needs to be a settling in period for the dog when a baby is brought home. Dogs do have jealous issues and a lot of dogs struggle with the sound of a baby crying and find but quite distressing,

  5. I can definitely see where you’re coming from, but as a veterinary nurse who studied behaviour, I would say that all the things you are doing with your dog is how you should treat all dogs. Dogs are pack animals and therefore no matter how much you think they love you they are still an animal and it’s important to them, as well as to you, to be clear about where that dog is within your pack. I don’t think it matters too much with other animals regarding behaviour.

  6. I love this post…this is me to a T! It’s my fiancés dog and I have cats so when we moved in together a few years back, there we’re a few issues I had to address…softly softly. The dog ruled the roost, she’s a fully grown rotty with the grace of a T-rex in a bad mood! She was allowed everywhere, ate off the plates and slept in the bedroom. All of the above were a massive no-no from me. I wasn’t trying to push her out or be mean, I just couldn’t abide the thought of her being everywhere all the time and she malts like you’ve never known! Everyone always says ‘Oh she’s short hair, she can’t malt that much!’ but believe you me, I could sweep for England! Her fur was imbedded in every cm of carpet, on the sofa…it was awful! We resulted in ripping out the front room carpet, completely redecorating and buying a new sofa as the room was inhabitable thanks to the lovely scent of wet dog. We used to resort to having tea and going to bed as I couldn’t sit in the front room for longer than about 10 minutes without feeling ashamed! So…from that day forward, rules were put in place and the house is now ruled by humans, NOT the dog! She’s only allowed in the front room when we’re in there, if she’s wet, she stays outside until dry (ish) and we have a stair gate so she is not allowed upstairs…IT’S GREAT!

  7. I have a Ridgeback.. Your dog loves you even though you are mean. Let them sleep with you! They have a pack mentality and sleeping together is the norm! 🙂

  8. I don’t find you ‘mean’ at all, though it’s horses for courses and the only rule that I follow is #5, that dogs and children are never left unattended. It’s so important to safeguard both dog and child from each other and you simply can’t do that if you’re not there!

    My lovely girl sleeps in the crook of my knees, is allowed to roam wherever she would like and is invited to take leftovers provided that they’re healthy foods – she LOVES her vegetables and there’s nothing that she won’t do for (the occasional treat of) a slice of buttered toast! We don’t invite people into her home who aren’t comfortable with dogs – they probably wouldn’t be our sort of people anyway!

    It sounds as though Florence is happy and comfortable and so is my girl, so our differing canine ‘parenting’ tactics are obviously working for us both! She’s lovely, by the way. I’d love to have a big dog one day.

  9. Hi Laura,

    As the owner of a rescue Jack Russell called Eddie, I totally agree with your approach. Love him to death, but he has to have boundaries and rules that are consistent. Whilst I get the big brown eyes when he looks to join me on the sofa, he is soon content and snoring away on his cushion.

    The same applies for trying to come upstairs. A point of the finger sends him scuttling back down and after a few weeks he is trying to follow me less often. Especially after realising the only time he goes up is bath time!

    • Thanks for your comment Keith, I think it is one that does tend to divide owners! Love your dog, but remember they are a pet it how I feel really. I did have a little chuckle about bath time too 🙂

  10. I do not think you are mean at all. Although im sure a few people class me as mean. Like you, i class myself as a dog lover but i dont agree with them on the furniture for two reasons. I suffer with allergies and i only have to sit on a seat and dog hairs just attatch themselves to me making me worce. Ive had two Aunties and Uncles who have had dogs and they have always been on the floor – my Nan had a dog in her day and her dog knew its place he wasnt allowed up the stairs and then my other reason is i own nice things, my couch is fabric almost like a swade and i dont want rip marks down it. Dogs do have claws and id be devasted if they did, id be very angry but really devastated. I do love dogs but my allergies make it hard for me to, and when they are allowed on couches and im over at peoples houses, i dont think humans come first – always. Im made to feel in the wrong – tell me am i wrong to feel this way because ive tried… i even take anti hystamine before i even go over.


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