How to Train Your Dog to Accept a New Bed

Easy
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

So, you went out and bought your pup a brand-new bed.  He should immediately love it and do his best to thank you, right? It's a nice thought, but with some dogs, this simply isn't the case. This just doesn't seem fair after the hours you spent trying to find the perfect bed. But, no, your pup wants to sleep on that stinky chewed up bed that is covered in far too many slobber stains.  Worse yet (yes it can get worse), when you haul his old bed away he continues to ignore his new bed in favor of a slice of convenient floor.

And if this isn't enough, he chooses to sleep on the floor right next to his new bed! Part of the problem is that your pup sees his old bed as part of his territory. At the same time, he has no idea what this new bed is. It doesn't smell of him or his "pack" and he may not be willing to "trust" it yet. Fortunately, with a little time and effort, you can quickly get your pup to start enjoying his wonderful new bed. 

Defining Tasks

Whether your pup has always slept on his own bed and you are simply replacing it or he is getting his first bed, the idea is to get him to sleep on his bed instead of yours. Half the battle is making sure that the location you choose for his bed is in a quieter part of your home. Your dog will seek out a place to sleep that is warm, dry, and that he feels is safe.

If you are introducing your pup to his bed for the first time, try to see where he typically curls up to sleep. Most dogs have a favorite spot. As long as this spot is workable, it is the perfect place his new bed. Your pup is a creature of habit, which will help make the process of getting him used to his new bed go much more smoothly. 

Getting Started

The big thing about a new bed is that there are no scents whatsoever belonging to any member of his "pack" anywhere to be found. If you are replacing an old bed, be sure to put the new one in the same spot. This will help your pup make the transition. To get him used his new bed, you will need a few things:

  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Blankets
  • A sheet
  • Quiet
  • Time and patience

It will take your pup a little while to get used to his new bed, the most important thing you can do is be patient. 

The No Place Like Home Method

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Step
1
Get rid of the bed
The first thing you need to do when you bring home your pup's new bed is to get rid of the old one. You need to make this a clean break.
Step
2
I don't like it
Your dog is not going to like his new bed because it doesn't smell right. To him, it is something new, an intruder in his home.
Step
3
Make it smell good
Try rubbing your hands all over the bed or even laying one of your old shirts on top of it. The idea is to see if your scent will help draw your pup onto his new bed. If it does, be sure to praise him and give him a treat.
Step
4
When he won't go to bed
If your scent isn't enough to convince your pup to test out the new bed, use one of his blankets to cover the top of the bed. This should solve the problem as his bed will now smell just like him and he should see it as part of his home.
Step
5
Be patient
Even after you have made every effort to make his new bed fit in, it could still take him time to finally stop being stubborn and clamber on his bed for a nap. Be patient and reward him every time he does until he simply forgets it’s a new bed.
Recommend training method?

The Scent Transfer Method

Effective
1 Vote
Step
1
Represent
In your pup's family or pack, there is an alpha male and/or an alpha female, just as there would be in the wild. Your pup sees you as the leader. As such, your scent is very important to him as he sees it as representing safety and security, food, love, and, of course, fun.
Step
2
Rub your sent
Before you put your pup's new bed on the floor for him, take a few moments to rub it on your skin (it works even better if you are sweaty) to transfer your scent to the bed.
Step
3
Bring on the family
Have each member of your family do the same thing. To your pup, these will make his bed smell like everyone in his pack.
Step
4
Place the bed
Place the bed on the ground in place of the old one and leave it alone. Let your dog come over and sniff at it. He should be able to pick out the scent of each individual member of your family.
Step
5
On he goes
This should be more than enough to convince him that it's okay for him to use his new bed. But you can always toss a treat or two on it to finish the job. Be patient, it will take him a little time to get used to his new bed.
Recommend training method?

The Sheet Method

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Step
1
Hang on to that old bed
Before you get rid of the old bed, cover it with a sheet.
Step
2
Give it time
Leave the sheet on his bed for a few days so that it can absorb a healthy dose of the smells of the old bed and your pup.
Step
3
Remove the sheet
Remove the sheet from the old mattress and use it cover the new one. The sheet still smells just like the old bed. Not only this, but it helps to disguise the way the new bed looks.
Step
4
Get rid of the old bed
Get rid of the old bed. This way the only bed your pup sees and smells is the new one that smells like the old one. He should be quite happy to climb on it for a nap or at bedtime.
Step
5
Slow peel
Slowly over the course of a few days start sliding the sheet off the bed until you can finally remove it. By now your pup should have no problem sleeping in his "new" bed.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Archie
Catahoula mix
8 Years
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Question
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Archie
Catahoula mix
8 Years

Archie is a rescue, he's got a lot of eccentricities that I don't know the origins of, I've had him for 4 years. He is weird about not using any new dog bed I buy for him. I've tried scent transfer, treats, praise. He doesn't buy any of it and the old bed is in really bad shape!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
778 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tony, If you have a friend with a well mannered dog who Archie likes and isn't afraid of, I suggest having that dog come over frequently and have the friend dog spend time on the new bed with a chew toy while Archie lays on his bed. Having the other dog use the bed often might make Archie want to use it more - dog's can be jealous like that. It needs to be a dog that Archie isn't afraid of though - so that he doesn't avoid that dog's "thing" to avoid a potential fight. A dog who Archie wants to play with the same toys with is what you want. Also, pay attention to the differences in the beds. We often buy our dogs a certain type of bed - like a really plush looking one or one with sides, thinking it will be an improvement over the old bed, when a firmer bed or more open bed or vice versa is more comfortable for pup. If he likes a certain type of bed, try to mimic that type. For example, my Border Collie (another eccentric breed like many herding breeds can be) preferred his old cheap bed to the new plush one that had plush arms to rest his head on for years, and would never use the new one. When I finally bought a firmer, foam mattress type bed for my younger dog I found out that my Border Collie liked firmer beds and not plushy ones and that was part of the reason he avoided the soft, new one previously. That and jealousy that my other dog had something he didn't, made him prefer a new firmer bed finally. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Susie
Italian Greyhound
9 Years
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Question
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Susie
Italian Greyhound
9 Years

My girl does NOT like change of any kind and I'm hoping the new bed won't be too big an issue. I've read all advice and tips but am struggling with the idea of removing the old bed. We have a wonderful cat that loves Susie and she wants nothing to do with her.mute cat....LOVES this large bed.. The cat,Sister, always keeps as close as she can to Sue so it's not unexpected. Should I keep removing the cat from the bed? ( at least as long as Sue is resisting it- until she excepts it.) It's only been 24 hours. These babies are my life.. Thank you,Debra Hendriks

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, how is it working out? I think if it were me, I would keep removing the cat from the bed until Susie feels at ease. Even consider getting the cat a new place to sleep, like a cat tree with a scratch post and a comfy perch since cats love heights! Take a look at the guide where you submitted the question and try some of the tips suggested: wagwalking.com/training/accept-a-new-bed. Take a look here as well: https://wagwalking.com/training/lay-on-his-bed. Give Susie a couple of treats after leading her to her bed. Do this for a day or two. Then, throughout the day, when Susie is not looking, place high value treats on the bed so that she finds them on her own. Eventually, she should seek out the bed herself. Good luck!

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Question
Princeford
Jack Russell Terrier
3 Years
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Question
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Princeford
Jack Russell Terrier
3 Years

He gets excited on the leash and pulls and barks when we pass other dogs. How can I help him stay calm.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
778 Dog owners recommended

Hello Clara, I recommend working on calmness, the barking specifically, and more socialization. For the calmness, I suggest working on the structure of your walk first. You want pup to be working during the walk - having to stay behind you, focus on you, perform commands periodically, and not have his mind on scanning the area in search of other dogs. The walk should start with him having to exit your home very calmly, performing obedience commands at the door if he isn't calm. He should wait for permission ("Okay" or "Free" or "Let's Go") before going through the door instead of bolting through if that's an issue. When you walk he should be in the heel position - with his head behind your leg. That position decreases his arousal, reduces stress because he isn't the one in charge and the one encountering things first. It prevents him from scanning for other dogs, staring dogs down or being stared down, and ignoring you behind him. It also requires him to be in a more submissive, structured, focused, calmer mindset - which has a direct effect on how aroused, stressed, and reactive he is. Additionally, when you do pass other dogs, as soon as he starts staring them down, interrupt him. Remind him with a gentle correction that you are leading the walk and he is not allowed to break his heel or stare another dog down. It is far easier to deal with reactivity when you interrupt a dog early in the process - before they are highly aroused and full of adrenaline and cortisol, and to keep the dog in a less aroused/calmer state to begin with. Staying in a calmer mindset also makes the walk more pleasant for him in the long-run. Once pup can walk past other dogs more calmly, you can carry small, soft treats hidden in a treat pouch or plastic bag in your pocket. When pup's body language stays calm, they remain focused on you, or are very obedient when other dogs are within sight, reward pup with a treat and very calm - almost monotone praise (too much excitement can make the situation harder for pup). Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel You need a way to communicate with him so I suggest also teaching the Quiet command from the Quiet method in the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Next, once pup understands what Quiet means you will choose an interrupter - neither too harsh nor ineffective. A Pet Convincer is one example of an interrupter. A pet convincer is a small canister of pressurized, unscented air that you can spray a quick puff of at the dog's side to surprise them enough to help them calm back down. (Don't use citronella and avoid spraying in the face!). In situations where you know pup will bark or is already barking (catch them before they bark if you can), command "Quiet". If they obey, reward with a treat and very calm praise. If they bark anyway or continue to bark, say "Ah Ah" firmly but calmly and give a brief correction. Repeat the correction each time they bark until you get a brief pause in the barking. When they pause, praise and reward then. The combination of communication, correction, and rewarding - with the "Ah Ah" and praise to mark their good and bad behavior with the right timing, is very important. Once pup is calmer in general after the initial training, practice exposing him a lot to the things that trigger the barking normally (make a list - even if it's long). Whenever he DOESN'T bark around something that he normally would have, calmly praise and reward him to continue the desensitization process. Finally, work on calm socialization, and don't skip rewarding pup for calmness around other dogs once he is doing better on walk and is calm enough to reward it! That can help ultimately. For socialization, do things like joining obedience classes, trainings clubs, group dog hikes and walks, canine sports, ect...Your goal right now should be interactions with other dogs that have structure and encourage focus on you, calmness around the other dogs, and a pleasant activity with other dogs around - opposed to roughhousing or tense environments with tons of unpredictable dogs loose which increases adrenaline. If pup does really well playing with other dogs, have one-on-one play dates with a friend and their well socialized dog and intermittently practice obedience with them together so they learn how to also be calm and responsive to you around another dog. Recruit some friends with well mannered dogs to go on walks with you and your dog, following the Passing Approach method and Walking Together method to help the dogs learn how to be calm around each other, while also continuing socialization. Passing Approach and Walking Together methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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