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From grocery deliveries to the arrival of guests, there are times when your dog gets under your feet. He hears the doorbell and takes it as a cue to bark and dance around whoever called. There have been times when visitors are nervous of dogs and anxious about coming in. Of course, you restrain the dog by grabbing his collar, but recently he's wised up to this tactic and started keeping just out of reach.
You read how giving the dog a task to do, such as sitting on his bed, helps to distract him and gives you control. This sounds a great idea in theory, but in practice, you aren't sure where to start.
Training your dog to sit on his bed, is just that. However, the reason this is such a great command to teach is that it keeps the dog safe and out of harm's way. While sitting in bed, he can't be running out of the door or getting under your feet.
Indeed, this command has other benefits because it is a good distraction technique for dogs that tend to bark at visitors. When given a task to perform, such as going to bed, the dog is less likely to bark. You can also reward his action with an especially chewy treat bone and occupy him further, allowing guests to enter unchallenged.
You need few tools to teach a dog to sit in bed, the majority of the work relies on time and patience.
- A comfortable bed the dog is happy to spend time in
- A distraction-free room for training
- A treat bag or pouch for easy access to the rewards
- Time and patience
The Lure and Praise Method
Understand the idea
In this method, you will stand close to the dog's bed, attract his attention with a treat, and encourage him to step onto the bed. When all four paws are on the bed, you praise him. Over time you increase the time he has to wait in order to get the reward. Once the dog is good at staying put for several minutes, you can start stepping away, and praise the dog for not moving.
Preparation is everything. Place the bed in a quiet corner of the room or your preferred spot for him to sit out of the way. Chose a time to train when there are few distractions around, so that the dog can concentrate on you.
Stand by the bed
To start, stand by the dog's bed. Attract his attention with a small but tasty treat. As the dog comes over to investigate, move the treat over the bed so that he climbs on.
Praise and reward
Don't worry about whether the dog sits or stands. At this point your aim is to build a strong positive association with the bed. When he's standing in the bed, praise him and give the treat. Repeat this until the dog is starting to anticipate what you want and keenly hops onto the bed to get the treat.
Praise the accidental 'sit'
If at any time the dog happens to sit down in the bed, make a special fuss of him and give a reward. The idea is for him to realize that going to the bed is good, but sitting in it is even better.
Make him wait for the reward
Once the dog has learned to go to the bed, add a cue word such as "Bed" or "Place." Once there, pause for a few seconds before rewarding him. Gradually extend the wait time before doling out the goodies. By doing this you are teaching the dog to stay put.
Now add distance
Once the dog is able to sit and wait for several minutes, it's time to step away from the bed. As before, move the training on in increments, first one step away, wait, return and praise. Then two steps, three steps, and so on until you are on the other side of the room. Ultimately, you will draw everything together so the dog goes to the bed on cue and waits there for you to release him with a command.
The Chain Reaction Method
Understand the idea
This method is subtly different in that you work separately on the two elements of sitting in his bed. These elements include the action of going to the bed, and then the passive obedience of a sit-stay. You can teach these as separate commands and then chain them together to achieve the desired effect.
Work on 'sit'
Use a treat to lure the dog into a sitting position. Do this by holding a treat near the dog's nose and then moving it in a low arc over his head and behind his back. In order to follow the treat, the dog's butt will sink to the ground. Label this as "sit" and reward the dog with the treat. Work on this regularly, until the dog anticipates what is required when you say "sit" and offers you this action.
Work on 'stay'
With the dog in a 'sit', say "Stay", wait a few seconds and if the dog hasn't moved, reward him. If he gets up, make a disappointed sound such as "Oh dear", and withhold the treat. As he learns that he has to stay seated to get the reward, gradually extend the amount of time he has to stay before he gets the reward.
'Stay' at distance
Once he is holding the stay with you in front of him, take a step away, wait a second and then step back. Reward the dog for staying. The idea is to gradually move further away while expecting the dog to stay.
Teach 'bed' or 'place'
As a separate command, teach the dog to go to his bed. Do this by hiding treats in the bed and pointing them out to the dog. When he goes to investigate say "Bed" in an excited voice. Do this regularly over the day, so that when he hears "bed" he links this to a hidden treat and runs over eagerly.
Add the commands in a chain
Now the magic happens because you are going to first command the dog "bed" so that he runs over, and then "sit" and "stay" so that he remains seated on his bed. Simple as that!
The Do's and Don'ts Method
Don't: Overwhelm the dog
Each dog learns at their own pace. Take things slowly and make sure the dog has mastered each step before moving onto the next one. This also means working on the elements separately, such as the time the dog stays and then the distance you stand away from him.
Do: Use reward-based methods
Motivating the dog with treats and rewards will make him eager to please. He'll soon pick up the association between "bed" and running over, if there's a tasty treat to find when he gets there.
Don't: Punish the dog
If the dog breaks his 'stay' and jumps off the bed, don't punish him. This will only make him wary of you and more likely to stay put because he's fearful than because he's worked out what to do. If he does move, help him understand it was the wrong decision by making a disappointed noise and withholding the reward.
Do: Train regularly
Repetition is key to success with this task. The more you train with him, the better he'll understand what you want and deliver it.
Do: Praise the dog when he goes to bed
There are times when your dog sits in his bed because it's a comfortable place to be. Take advantage of this to reinforce his training, by praising this good behavior. Praising volunteered actions, such as being a good dog and sitting in his bed, is a powerful way to encourage the dog to repeat this in the future.
Written by Pippa Elliott
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 01/17/2018, edited: 01/08/2021