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How Do I Stop My Dog From Pawing at Me on the Couch?

This is my weimaraner puppy’s most annoying habit, and I’m having trouble changing his behavior (or perhaps my own behavior?). Please help.

When we’re trying to relax on the couch, Remy constantly bothers us.

He holds a toy and pushes it into the couch or into my leg. He bites at the toy and ends up biting me. If I grab the toy, he darts away and taunts. If I put the toy away, he sits there and paws at me. When I try to pet him or hold his collar to settle him, he paws and bites or rolls onto his back to thrash around. SUPER ANNOYING.

Remy the weimaraner puppy - how to stop my dog from pawing at me

The reason this is so frustrating is because it’s at the end of the day or on the weekends when we’re tired and just trying to relax (God forbid).

We have a small coffee table in front of the couch, and we can’t keep drinks on it or Remy knocks them over. He’ll purposely bump them with his nose or clunk into the table with his body and move the whole table.

I could really use some ideas on how to encourage Remy to relax with us in the evenings.

How do I stop my dog from pawing at me?

Here’s what we’ve tried with little success:

1. Ignoring him. He keeps at it. I don’t see this working. If we sit up straight, become zombie faced and truly ignore him, he just stands there shoving his toy into us and biting us. Our couch is low and I can’t just turn away from him like I do when sitting at the kitchen table or at my desk.

2. A calm, serious NO. Even a little shove and even a little slap on the nose. He thinks this is a fun game! I end up frustrated and he loves the attention. Other types of corrections like squirting him with a water bottle or compressed air? He thinks these are fun games.

3. A combination of ignoring him with a straight-faced, calm NO. Seems to help slightly when I have the right, serious energy. He might leave for a minute and come back.

4. Teaching him to lie down and stay. He usually starts thrashing around throwing a tantrum and pawing at my hands and biting me. He shreds blankets and towels (or humps them) so a dog bed is out of the question.

5. Using a leash to keep him in a down/stay at my feet. He won’t stop thrashing and biting. I used to tether him to a set of weights, but he chewed through two leather leashes. We bought a chain leash and he started chewing whatever he’s tethered to. I worry he’ll hurt his teeth.

6. Tiring him out. It just doesn’t happen. I feel like I’m doing my part to provide exercise and activities for him throughout the day. I’ve walked him 5 miles, taken him to a dog friendly brewery, worked on tricks and obedience and visited the dog park all in one day and he still wasn’t tired. (And we shoot for 4-5 miles every day, not occasionally.)

Me and my puppy Remy walking on the beach

Now here are some things that do work:

Kong toys. If I stuff a Kong with some dry dog food and biscuits and then peanut butter and freeze it solid, that will last him a good 30 minutes. He will lie down and work on that. Bully sticks also work.

Working on “go to your bed” with treats. He will lie down and stay if he knows I have treats. I started using “go to your bed” and he runs to his shredded up towel (it’s a sad towel) I set out about four feet away from the couch. He’ll lie on it and stare at me if I’m holding treats. Then I toss him a treat every 30 seconds or so. He’ll stay there for as long as I have treats. So we’ve done about 15 minutes of this so far.

Let me know what you think of this plan:

I’m thinking my best bet is to continue practicing the “go to your bed” with treats for short sessions throughout the day. So, when we’re trying to watch TV, I could practice “go to your bed” with him for just a few minutes, then give him the Kong for 30 minutes, then another 5 minutes of practicing “go to your bed.” Then crate him if he’s still acting wild after that.

What do you think of that?

“Go to your bed” will also come in handy for when we need to get Remy to relax in general or when we have people over. This would be way too challenging for him with guests over at this point, but it would be a long-term goal. See Puppy in Training’s post about using this technique to stop a dog from jumping on guests and why it doesn’t happen overnight. Training takes TIME.

How have you gotten control of some of your dog’s annoying behaviors?

Do you think I’m on the right track to helping Remy be successful?

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Related posts:

How to teach your puppy the Off command

My dog won’t stop whining for attention

How to stop my dog from pawing at me


Monday 14th of August 2017

I send mine to his crate, what he hears is spot. Reintroducing the spot has saved what remains of my sanity. He, like Remy, is persistent and will not quit until you give up on whatever you are trying to accomplish, typing, nap, wtc. His spot has all of his most favorite toys and bones, pillows and blankets.

Madelyn Kelley

Sunday 13th of August 2017

I've tried most of these suggestions with my Lab/Pit Bull mix 8 month old puppy. I see some improvement but some regression also. He used to calm down in his crate which is with us in the living area. Now for some reason if only my daughter is there he usually calms down. Or if I am walking around cleaning he is ok. As soon as I sit down he will whine and then progress to barking. This is usually in the evening during his zoomie time. He doesn't like long walks. He can be walking along fine and then hears or smells something and want to return home. Also he will only walk one route and if I try to change it he locks his legs and won't budge. We live in AZ where it gets very hot so we won't walk him early in a.m. Or after the sun is set. Hoping in cooler weather he will walk more. He loves the dog park which really tires him out. But again with the heat (it can be in the 90's even after sunset we have not taken him lately.

Thank you for all the tips. We take it day by day, but no matter what we will always love Midnight and his antics.

Paula Napoli

Thursday 19th of January 2017

I have the same issue with my italian greyhound puppy, whats worked for me so far is giving him a firm no and if he still does it I say ''timeout'' and out him in the laundry for a minute, after a minute I let him out and try again, if he does the same thing then I'll keep repeating the above until he's top, one night of doing this and he's now stopped from being all up in my face! :)

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 19th of January 2017

I should try that! Thanks.

Julia at Home on 129 Acres

Thursday 15th of September 2016

I'm sorry I can't really relate (but I'm also a bit glad?) thanks to my extremely lazy six year old dog. However, I will say that "go to your bed" is an incredibly helpful command. "Go lay down" is one of Baxter's best commands. He immediately goes and finds his bed. It's helpful to stop him from begging at the table (my husband created this problem, not me) or when we have company. I can't say that we ever taught this, though. He seemed to come to us knowing it! So I guess I'm just pretty much all-round unhelpful. You have my sympathies.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 15th of September 2016

Bax and Ace would probably appreciate each other.


Thursday 15th of September 2016

As I was reading through your post I was thinking of ideas that I thought might work with Remy. Low and behold as i got towards the end of the post I had nearly the same plan as you. The "go to your bed" with treats/chews was my same thought. Raven and Archer will often come up to me when I'm lying on the couch and start poking me with their nose. I'm pretty content with asking them to "down" and I'll just rub their belly for 5 minutes from my lazy spot on the couch. One reason I haven't raised a German Shepherd is the high energy level. The Labs and Goldens are enough for me. Way back when I was running marathons...maybe, but nowadays it's too much for me to handle. One other suggestion that would probably work...I could drop off Archer at your house for the week to entertain Remy. :)

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 15th of September 2016

Haha how about Remy comes to stay with YOU?