Beauty Rest: Teaching Your Dog To Sleep in Their Own Bed
Even your dog needs a good night’s sleep to wake up feeling their best. If you’ve run out of room on your own bed, taken the spot where your dog has always slept and decided instead to fill it with a human, or you simply don’t want to share your bed with your dog, this article is for you. Teaching your dog to sleep in their own bed may seem like a daunting task wrought with philosophical questions like: Does my dog feel left out if she can’t sleep with me? Does my dog think I don’t love him if I require him to sleep on the floor? Untangling yourself from the emotion of whether or not to sleep with your dog can be complicated but teaching a dog to sleep on their own bed is simple. Follow these training tips and you can teach your dog to comfortably and happily sleep in their own bed.
1.Too Hard? Too Soft? Just Right!
The first thing is to choose a bed that suits your dog. Finding the right bed for your dog is a lot like finding the right pillow for you. You may need to test out a few different options until you find the perfect one, but once your find it, your dog will let you know it’s the one. Consider the way your dog likes to sleep. If your dog likes to snooze curled up in a ball, choosing a bed with sides and one that isn’t much larger than your dog’s body length is likely to fit the bill. Dog beds with soft side walls are great for holding in your dog’s body heat and also making them feel hugged and secure when sleeping. On the other hand, if you have a dog that likes to sprawl out and can’t seem to get enough room when they sleep, choosing a flat bed with ample stretching space is sure to make your pup very happy.
2. Timing is Everything
If you buy a bed and notice that your dog can’t seem to get comfy or stay comfy, you may want to consider trying a different shape, fabric or filling. Your local shelter or rescue would be happy to take your dog’s unwanted bed as a donation and you will feel so good knowing that the bed that didn’t suit your own dog is heavenly for another dog.
Teaching your dog to sleep in their own bed requires little more than patience and repetition. It may take 2 or 3 sleepless nights to get your dog to understand that they are no longer sleeping in bed with you and instead sleeping in a new place. Losing sleep often leads to losing patience and patience is key when teaching your dog anything new. So, if and when you decide to fully commit to training your dog to sleep in their own bed, do it on a weekend or a time when your schedule is a bit more flexible. This way you can make up for the sleep you might lose during those necessary training nights.
3. The Nitty Gritty
You’ve found a bed that your dog likes, and you’ve chosen the perfect weekend to commit to dog training. Let’s get down to the details!
The first step to training your dog to sleep in their own bed is to teach them what “settle down” means. “Settle down” is kind of the cousin to “down.” Once your dog knows the “down” command, “settle down” is an easy add-on. With a treat in hand, lead your dog to his bed and say “settle down.” If your dog needs help getting into the down position, help him by holding the treat between your fingers and placing it slightly in front of and between his front legs. Once he lays down to get a better angle at the treat, say “good settle down!” and reward him with the treat. Throughout the day, when you see your dog resting in his/her new bed, whisper “good settle down” so that he/she begins to understand that “settle down” means relax. With repetition and positive reinforcement, your dog should get the hang of “settle down” in no time.
Now that your pup knows it makes you happy when he relaxes in his/her bed, place the bed next to your bed. Your dog is far more likely to happily sleep in his/her bed if it’s in a spot that he can hear, see and smell you. Using a treat, give your dog his “settle down” command, reward him and get yourself into bed. Every time your dog jumps on the bed or cries to be let up, step out of bed, get a treat (leave a secure stash of treats on a bedside table), walk your dog back to their bed and repeat the “settle down” command. When he lies down, say “good settle down,” reward him immediately with the treat and get back into your own bed. Repeating this cycle throughout the night, no matter how many times your dog tries to climb in bed with you, will quickly help your dog learn to happily sleep in their own bed, rather than yours.
Dogs innately want to please their people so calm, positive repetition – no matter what you’re trying to teach – will help your dog understand exactly what you want. Waking up throughout the night can quickly become frustrating so be patient and remember – if your dog doesn’t do what you say, it’s because he/she simply doesn’t know what you want.
A dog that understands what you want and knows how to make you happy is a confident, happy dog. While at first blush it may feel “mean” to banish your dog from your bed, if you provide him with a comfy alternative and let him know you are pleased when you see him resting in it, he will happily make the transition to the new space.
Teaching your dog a new way to sleep requires a bit of leg-work on the front end but it leads to lots of extra leg room when completed.
When training your dog a new command, using small, high value treats will give you the freedom to reward your dog without filling their belly too quickly.