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How to Train a Dog the Off Command

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Train a Dog the Off Command
Photo © iStockphoto.com/ktmoffitt

The "off" command is used to tell a dog to get his paws off of something - the kitchen counter, your bed, the living room couch. It can be tough to train a dog off because your dog usually jumps up to get to something he likes, like a scrap of food or a comfy place to sleep. Just be patient and consistent, and your dog will soon respond to the off command.

What You Need

Keep some treats in a few different places around your home. When you're ready to train a dog to get off of something, you'll have them on hand.

Here's How to Do It

  1. Wait for your dog to jump up on something. Training a dog the off command is different from training a lot of the other basic commands. Rather than planning training sessions, you need to wait until your dog is behaving inappropriately to train him the off command.
  2. Give the command. When you see your dog with his paws up on the counter or making himself comfortable on your couch, tell him "off."
  3. Use a treat to lure your dog off. As you give the off command, show your dog a treat. You can shake the treat and call his name to get his attention. As soon as all four of his paws are on the floor, give him the treat.
  4. Repeat. Continue to tell your dog "off" each time he jumps up on a counter or other piece of furniture. Lure him down with a treat, and make sure he gets a treat whenever all his paws are on the floor.

Training Tips

  1. Be consistent. The only way your dog is going to stay off the counters or furniture for good is if you make him get off every time he jumps up. If you allow him to get away with it at times, your dog will learn that it's worth a shot because sometimes he'll be allowed the opportunity to snatch food or curl up on the couch.
  2. Use a crate when you aren't around to supervise. Dogs very quickly learn that they are able to get away with certain things when you aren't around. Crate train your dog so he doesn't have the opportunity to jump up on the furniture or counters when you are not around to supervise him.

Troubleshooting

  1. You may need to add another command. One problem with training a dog the off command is that your dog may soon learn that when he jumps on something, he ends up getting a treat. Instead of training your dog to get off something, your dog is training you to give him treats. In this case, you may see your dog jumping up on things more frequently. To overcome this problem, make your dog work for his treat. Follow the same steps as above, but before you give him the treat, give him another command, such as sit or down. Give the dog the treat only after he has performed this command. In this way, you'll break the connection your dog makes between jumping up on something and getting a treat.
  2. Give your dog somewhere else to go.If your dog is looking for a comfy spot for a nap, he may get off your couch or bed only long enough to get his treat. As soon as he gets it, he may attempt to get back up on the furniture. A good way to solve this problem is to make sure your dog has a comfy spot of his own, like a dog bed. You can train a dog the go to your place command, and send him to his own bed rather than allowing him to try to get back on your couch or bed.
  3. Train your dog not to counter surf. If your dog has been able to snatch food off your kitchen counter, you may need to do more than train the off command. In this case, you may need to do some further training to train your dog not to counter surf.
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