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It’s time to admit to a harsh truth. While we all love our dogs and enjoy spending time with them, there are some moments where it would be nice to get a little bit of peace and quiet. Sure, it’s nice waking up to Fido’s expectant face, but there are times when you want to sleep in instead, not to mention your pooch’s penchant for snoring, rustling around in the middle of the night or getting fur all over the nice clean sheets. If Fido has picked up the human bed sleeping habit, a lifelong sharing of the covers isn’t inevitable. It’s possible, and easier than you may think, to teach your dog to not sleep on the bed.
It may seem like a cute and cuddly behavior when your dog is a small puppy, but as your dog grows and ages his size and presence could prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Sleeping in your bed isn’t all that great for your pet either. Jumping up and down off the bed can cause hip or joint issues or potential injuries from slipping or impact. In short, there are plenty of reasons for your dog to have his own special spot to catch a few winks and you’ll both sleep better and be healthier as a result of teaching the dog not to sleep in your bed.
Before you begin on your journey towards teaching your dog not to sleep on the bed, you’re going to need a few supplies. Your dog will need an alternative place to sleep; someplace that feels comfortable and safe. You should choose a quality dog bed with plenty of padding and washable covering. Dog beds should be thick and durable enough that your dog’s joints or bones don’t touch the ground through the material when laying with his full weight. If your dog is a serial bed sleeping offender, he may also need a crate with a closeable door in order to help break the bed sleeping habit at night.
Finally, dog owners looking to untrain this habit should bring a hefty dose of patience and humor. You want training an alternative behavior to be a pawsitive experience for both you and your dog and yelling or anger can quickly undermine that approach. There are various ways to teach your dog to not sleep on the bed and owners should try out any and all to see which is just the right fit for their spoiled, bed-loving pooch.
The 'Off' Method
Teaching the 'off' command is another method for teaching your dog not to sleep on the bed. Start off by catching your dog in the act of sleeping on the bed. You should refrain from rewarding or petting him for this behavior, even if he looks darn cute snuggled up in your comforter.
Using a treat or tasty toy, lure your dog into following you off the bed (or couch or furniture) and onto the floor. Once he's got all four paws on the floor, praise and reward with treats.
Add a command
Once your pet is exiting the bed quickly with the lure, start adding in the cue of a hand gesture or verbal command such as “off”. Your dog will soon start connecting the lure and treat reward with the cue.
Lose the lure
Give your pet the “off” command without a lure. The first few times they perform the task you should praise and reward heavily.
Slowly taper off the rewards so that your pet doesn’t receive a cookie or treat every single time he performs the task. This will reinforce the behavior and have your dog looking to perform the command faster in order to potentially get a cookie or snack. Use the 'off' command liberally to get Fido off the bed and then keep him off for good!
The Less Attractive Bed Method
Breaking the bed sleeping routine is the first step towards teaching your dog that human mattresses are off limits. Your pooch has most likely slept in your bed for some time so it may take a number of days or weeks until he learns that the rules have changed. If your dog whines or cries at night, try giving him a bedtime snack or toy to help establish comforting bedtime routines not associated with your bed.
Making the bed a place where your dog can’t or doesn’t want to be is one of the first methods frustrated owners should try when training their dog not to sleep on the bed. Start out by keeping your bedroom door closed so that your dog starts to break the habit of hopping up when the mood strikes him.
Next, dog owners should attempt to make the bed inaccessible to their pet. Owners can raise the bed to a height that isn’t reachable by Fido. Placing a pen or barrier around the bed can also prevent unwanted canine visitors. Finally, leaving several upturned laundry baskets or other obstacles on the bed can also make the spot less roomy and therefore less attractive to your dog.
Improve the doggy zone
The next step in project human bed aversion should be making Fido’s personal sleeping space a much more comfortable prospect. Make sure your dog’s bed is extra thick and fluffy. While you may be tempted, move your dog’s bed out of your bedroom to avoid the temptation or association of your sleeping space with his own. You may want to also consider adding bolsters or other items for your dog to lean against for extra comfort.
In order to thoroughly break the habit and get your dog used to not sleeping in your bed, you may need to crate him at night. To do this, place his new bed inside the doggy crate and shut the door firmly. You should give your dog calming treats or toys to help create a safe space and positive associations with his confines. Eventually, you may be able to leave the crate unlocked or remove it entirely and have your pooch returning willingly to his new favorite sleeping spot.
The Alternative Behavior Method
Rewarding your dog for going to their place or sleeping on their own bed is a great method for training your pooch not to sleep on human beds. The first step should be in purchasing and setting up a comfortable spot for your dog to go. The bed should have plenty of toys and be free of crinkly fabrics that may be off-putting in sound or comfort.
Lure him in
Next you’ll want to lure the dog to his bed by throwing small treats onto the bed. Get your dog’s attention and toss a treat. Once he retrieves the treat, praise him as closely as possible to when he is gobbling up that cookie.
Add a cue
Once your dog is reliably running to the bed for his treat, start adding in a verbal command or cue. “Place” or “bed” are common commands to teach dogs to go to their spot. Continue using both treats and the cue so that your pooch word makes a connection between the word and the behavior.
Lose the lure
Next, remove the treat bribe and instead use the verbal cue. Your pet should run to his bed to sniff for a treat if you’ve properly reinforced the cue. Once your dog reaches the bed, immediately reward him with a treat.
Slowly increase the difficulty by requiring your dog to lay down, put all four feet on his bed or settle in place. Use the verbal cue without treating on every instance. Vary the reward levels of treats, mixing in things such as hot dogs or cheese with dried cookies to leave your dog guessing which time will result in bonus rewards. This type of training will have your dog reliably going to his bed in no time, which means he won’t be snuggling up in yours!
By Kimberly Maciejewski
Published: 01/29/2018, edited: 01/08/2021