How to Teach a Dog 'Off'

small dog lying on furniture

You can teach a dog the “off” command to get your dog to move from a spot where you don’t want them. This can help to teach your dog not to jump on furniture, put their paws up on counters, or even jump on people. Teaching “off” is a much kinder and gentler way of moving a dog on cue — compared to physically lifting them, for example.

How to train the ‘off’ command

Follow these steps to train your dog in the “off” command. On cue, the dog will learn to remove their paws (or entire body) from the item, person, or surface they’re currently on.

When the dog has their paws or body on something (such as a counter or table), say “off” and use a treat in front of their nose to lure them off the item. As soon as all paws are back on the ground, click a clicker (or say a verbal marker like “yes” or “good”) and give your dog the treat.  

Once your dog is reliably getting off the item on the "off" cue, you can start fading the click and treat part by using praise instead and randomly offering treats.

If the dog won’t follow the treat as a lure, you need a higher-value treat. It’s important to use a treat or food item that your dog really likes so that getting off the item is much more rewarding than staying on it.


In dog training, proofing means teaching a dog to generalize the behavior in different contexts. When teaching your dog “off,” practice with different items — such as a couch, bed, coffee table, and countertop. If your dog jumps on people, practice with different people. For each new item or person, restart the training process at step 1.  

Likewise, practice with other handlers besides yourself giving the “off” command. And practice in different locations with varying distractions. For example, for counter-surfing dogs, practice both when the kitchen counter is empty and when there is a tasty snack on it.

Take the training process at your dog’s speed. If their attention starts to wane or they can’t figure out what you’re asking, stop and take a break. You also can create intermediate steps to more gradually introduce the training process to your dog.