How to Train Your Dog to Sleep in a Certain Room

Medium
1-4 Weeks
General

Introduction

You’ve always loved cuddling up with your dog when you sleep at night. You wanted the company and he gladly obliged. Now you have a new partner though, and a dog sleeping between you isn’t quite what your partner envisaged on moving in. Your dog is also quite defensive and protective about who sleeps in his bedroom, so you know it’s time to make a change. He’s not a puppy anymore either, so maybe some independence will do him good.

Training him to sleep in a certain room is good for both of you. He needs to be able to survive without you, at day and at night. It will make leaving him in kennels or at a friend's when you go on vacation easier too.

Defining Tasks

The training itself isn’t always a walk in the park. It depends largely on how long your dog has been used to sleeping wherever he likes. If he’s mature and you’re breaking a 10-year-old habit, then it may take a few weeks to get him truly settled into his new bedroom. If he’s just a puppy and new to having sleeping freedom, then taking it away could take just several days or a week. The biggest struggle comes with making his new sleeping area a comfy and desirable bedroom for him. Also, if you’ve spent years with him sleeping in your bed, then letting go of your cuddle buddy may prove challenging for you as well.

Succeed with this training and you’ll have a dog you can control and who won’t cause you any trouble at night time. 

Getting Started

Before you start your new training regime you’ll need a few things. You’ll need a comfy bed and toys, plus treats to make your dog's new sleeping area nice and appealing. You’ll also need to set aside a few minutes each day for getting him familiar and excited for his new bedroom.

You’ll have to find all your patience and resilience to stick with the training campaign, so bring the right attitude. Once you’ve collected all of that, you can get to work!

The ‘Bed’ Method

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Step
1
Stand by his bed
Be right next to the bed in the room you want him to sleep in and then call him over. Make sure you’ve got a pocket full of treats with you.
Step
2
‘Bed’
Issue the verbal command, then point at his bed and encourage him to head there. Once he’s looked at you puzzled for a while, he’ll finally clock on and take a step onto the bed. As soon as he does that, give him a treat and shower him with praise.
Step
3
Increase the distance
Repeat this again and again over the next few days. As you practice, slowly increase the distance you are from the bed when you send him there. The trick is to increase the distance gradually. Keep practicing until you can send him to his bed when you aren’t even in the room. At this point, you can cut out the treats, he’ll no longer need them to follow your command.
Step
4
Apply it at night
When the evening comes, send him to his new room/bed with the command. Be firm and clear so he knows you mean business. If he trots back out, send him straight back. If he comes into your room or another room at night again, give the command in a louder, clearer voice. You will need to be persistent. It will take him several days to a week before he finally realizes that he needs to stay in that room all night.
Step
5
Water spray for the persistent ones
If he consistently comes back after you send him to bed, you may need to use a deterrent. A simple spray of water near his face will give him a little fright and help reinforce the point. Use this each time he comes back or into your bed, give him the ‘bed’ command. Once he gets the message, you can go back to drinking water instead of spraying it.
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The Gentle Cold Shoulder Method

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Step
1
Make the new room all his
If you want him to sleep somewhere else, you need to make it feel like his own. Play with him there in the day. Allow him to have some space in there that is totally his. It will then start to feel like his territory, a safe place where he can escape to.
Step
2
Add some home comforts
To start with, you may want to put some old clothes of yours into his new room and bed. The smell of you will help put him at ease. It will also help to leave his toys in there. All of this will make him feel more comfortable.
Step
3
Leave the door open wide
To start with, you need to keep the door open so he can escape if he wants. This may not make sense now, but the idea is you show him gradually that he’s not missing out on anything. It also stops you cutting all ties in one go, which won’t be easy for him.
Step
4
Gradually close the door
Each night, close the door a little bit more, until it is only just ajar and then finally completely shut it. This will allow him to slowly get used to not having his own freedom anymore.
Step
5
Put him to bed
Each night, take him to his new room and slowly stroke him for a few minutes until he gets sleepy. Think of it like taking a child to bed at night and reading them a bed time story. Keep doing this and all of the above steps until he’s comfortable in there. Then you can slowly stop taking him to bed each night.
Recommend training method?

The Routine Method

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Step
1
Follow a timeline
Each evening, try and be consistent. Give him his food, take him to go to the toilet, and then put him to bed at the same time. It should never be a surprise when you want him to go to bed. Routine brings with it comfort, so take him to his new room at the same time each evening.
Step
2
Leave a treat on the bed
An easy way to get him to go in there in the first place is to put a treat on his bed. Simply having something in there to look forward to will encourage him to head in there each evening.
Step
3
Say ‘good night’
Spend a couple of minutes gently playing with him and stroking him. Get him comfortable and happy, then say good night and leave him. It’s important you follow this routine each day and then he won’t be surprised when you leave.
Step
4
Go and get him in the morning
Having a routine in the morning is also important. If he’s not already up, go and say 'good morning' and stroke him. Doing this in the morning and evening will teach him that going to bed and where he goes to bed is on your terms. It will also comfort him to know you’ll be there when he goes to sleep and you’ll still be there first thing in the morning.
Step
5
Be consistent
If you slip up every couple of evenings he won’t stick to his new room. You need to stick to your routine every evening or the process will take considerably longer. But be patient, be rigorous, and it will pay off.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Mabel
American Eskimo
8 Months
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Question
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Mabel
American Eskimo
8 Months

We rescued Mabel when she was about 4mo old. She is a Corgi/Eskimo mix. She was very difficult to potty train because she does not let us know when she has to go out. We crate trained her for up to 8-9 hrs either for work or at night. She has terrible separation anxiety with mainly me who is her primary caretaker. She would do ok in her crate at night and then after a few weeks she would bark uncontrollably, all night long. We moved her crate around to numerous different places the last one being in our 11 y/o room. She does ok but as soon as anyone makes any sort of peep, she is barking like crazy. We have treats that she only gets in her crate but just never has become accustomed to it. As soon as we let her out she grabs all her toys out and runs away. I was at a loss so I made the "mistake" of letting her sleep with us and she sleeps all night long without a peep. This is great except for the fact that my husband is not thrilled it is every night. I would like to get her to sleep in one of my boys beds and she will lay down with them but as soon as I am out of sight she comes to find me. I have also tried crating her at night again and she wants no part in it. Any suggestions?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jessica, There are a couple of routes you can take with the separation anxiety. The first is to initially start by simply working on building her independence. Generally build her confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into her routine. Things such as making her work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching her to remain inside a crate when the door is open too. Changing the routines so that she does not anticipate alone time and build up her anxiety before you leave - which is hard for her to deescalate from. Being sure to give her something to do in the crate during the day (such as a food stuffed Kong to chew on), and ignoring her crying at night until she eventually learns to go back to sleep. This is the general protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle but can take a very long time. Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction. Who is extremely knowledgeable in e-collar training, and can follow the protocol listed below, to help you implement the training. Building her independence and structure in her life will still be an important part of this protocol. First, check out this video from SolidK9Training on treating crate anxiety. It will give a brief over-view of treating separation anxiety more firmly. This trainer can be a bit abrupt with his teaching style with people but is very experienced working with highly aggressive, anxious, and reactive dogs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Make sure you are implementing what he teaches there in other areas of her life too. Second, purchase a remote electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator for this. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator is also a vibration collar) or unscented air remote controlled air spray collar. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh). Because of your dog's strong reaction, it is unlikely that the vibration or spray collars will work though, so you may end up spending more money by not purchasing an e-collar at first. The Mini Educator has very low levels of stimulation, that can be tailored specifically to your dog. It also has vibration and beep tones that you can try using first, without having to buy additional tools. Next, set up a camera to spy on her. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with her end on mute, so that you can see and hear her but she will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Next, put the e-collar on Mabel while she is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. To learn how to put the collar on her, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if she responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning her head, moving her ears, biting her fur, moving away from where she was, or changing her expression. If she does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when she is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing her reaction at that level until she indicates a little bit that she can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Once you have found the right stimulation level for her and have it correctly fitted on her, have her wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours. Next, set up your camera to spy on her while she is in the crate. Put her into the crate while she is wearing the collar and leave the room. Spy on her from the other room or outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear her barking or see her start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, push the stimulation button once. Every time she barks or tries to get out of the crate, stimulate her again. If she does not decrease her barking or escape attempts at least a little bit after being stimulated seven times in a row, then increase the stimulation level by one level. She may not feel the stimulation while excited so might need it just slightly higher. Do not go higher than three more levels on the mini-educator or one level on another collar with less levels right now though because she has not learned what she is supposed to be doing yet. The level you end up using on her on the mini educator collar should be low to medium, within the first forty levels of the one-hundred to one-hundred-and-twenty-five levels, depending on the model you purchase. If it is not, then have a professional evaluate whether you have the correct "working level" for her. If she continues to ignore the collar, then go up one more stimulation level and if that does not work, make sure that the collar is turned on, fitted correctly, and working. After five minutes to ten minutes, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back inside to the dog. Do not speak to her or pay attention to her for ten minutes while you walk around inside. When she is being calm, then you can let her out of the crate. When you let her out, do it the way Jeff does is in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want her to be calm when she comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore her when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Continue to put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with her. Once she is less anxious she will likely enjoy it and that will help her to enjoy the crate more. First, she needs her anxious state of mind interrupted so that she is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give her a food stuffed Kong in the crate for her to relieve her boredom instead, since she will need something other than barking to do at that point. Don't give her the food at night though - just an empty chew toy, or she might have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Practice all of this during the day at first. Once she has learned that e-collar corrections are for barking and is able to calm herself back down during the day, then you can transition the training to night time when she tries to bark then - if you are certain that she does not need to pee at that time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
9 Months
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Question
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Lucky
Labrador Retriever
9 Months

My dog recently started jumping into my room around 6 to 7am, while I'm still sleeping. He does this when he is playing or when he is energetic, not when he is tired or willing to rest with me.

I want him to sleep with me, but since he always comes to my bed energetic and hyper, he usually will lick me a whole lot, and sometimes bite my fingers when I try to push him off.

How do I train him to sleep with me but not play in my bed? I don't want him to jump in my bed, just hop up and lay down and rest.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, You will need to teach Lucky a Down-Stay and practice that command on your bed during the day. Work on him Staying for up to two-hours. Once he understands what the Down-Stay means, then you can practice long Down-Stays while you are doing something sitting down, like watching TV or doing homework. Your goal should be a one-to-two-hour Down-Stay for him to be able to be still in your bed with you during the morning for that long. After he has learned the command and you have practiced it on your bed and he can do it for long periods of time, then you can simply tell him to Down-Stay when he gets in your bed and is too excited. You will probably need to tell him to Down-Stay on the far end of your bed and not right by your face (to remove the temptation to lick you), until he develops a habit of being calm on your bed. Doing this sets an expectation for being calm while in your bed, helping him transition to sleeping with you without bothering you later on. Be patient with him. He is still an energetic puppy and this will take him time to learn, but it is also a very good exercise to practice with him because it helps him develop self-control and learn how to calm himself down. It is also alright to give him a rubber chew toy to chew on while he is in your bed -- as long as he has been been possessive or aggressive about toys, giving him a chew toy might keep him from chewing your blankets -- which you need to be aware of at his age. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Olly
Maltese/Poodle cross?
3 Years
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Question
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Olly
Maltese/Poodle cross?
3 Years

Olly is a rescue dog that has continually barked from Day one and showed some aggression issues, last few months he has actually attacked me when I am trying to do something for him, he slept on bed from day one but now when we move he again attacks and acts like a German Shepard really nasty looking and barring teeth, same thing when he is on floor and we need to get around or over him, if we tell him to move he just ignores us completely then we when go near him he is in attack mode. I have tried isolating him in another room but he continually cries barks, whinges and makes a noise my husband is suffering from cancer so getting optimum sleep for me is a necessity but atm no sleep very tired do I continue to persist with dog in another room and will he eventually learn that he is not to sleep in bed, saying no does not seem to compute with him

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
150 Dog owners recommended

Hello Yvonne, It sounds like Olly needs an entire shift in the way he views you and your husband. By increasing his respect for you, you should have more success with the nighttime training, but unfortunately ignoring his cries will still be needed. I would advise getting him used to wearing a basket muzzle first. Introduce the muzzle with lots of treats, giving him treats for sniffing the muzzle, touching it, letting you put it on, and letting you take it off. Practice that until he can tolerate wearing the muzzle. After he is used to wearing the muzzle then you can use a straw dipped in peanut butter or spray food, like the ones sold to stuff Kongs with from your local pet store. You can poke the straw dipped in food through the muzzle to let him lick it off when he is behaving well. Once he is used to wearing the muzzle, then it is time to implement a lot of new rules around the house. He should no longer be allowed on the bed or furniture, so long as he is acting aggressively when told to get off and not obeying your commands. He needs to work for everything he gets by doing a command for you first. Things that he should work for can include: attention, meals, walks, games, and anything else that he asks for. This process is called "No Free Lunch". Do not pet him unless you have called him over or have had him do something first. The idea is for him to learn that he can no longer get his way by acting aggressively and that you own everything in the home, and he does not. This might sound harsh but right now his behavior is dangerous and causing stress for you and your husband, and this process is a safe way to teach him differently. Have him wear the muzzle when you are home as a normal part of his life until is attitude completely changes, like wearing a collar, so that when he tries to control the situation by acting aggressively, he will not be able to, and will learn that aggression does not work. While doing this, work on crate training with him during the day, leave him in the crate during the day for gradually longer and longer periods of time, rewarding him with treats when he is quiet. Start with only a few minutes in the crate and work up to one hour as he improves. Only let him out when he is quiet. You can give him a Kong stuffed with food in the crate with him, or another favorite, safe toy. This should help him get used to being alone, without having to practice just at night when you are tired. It is vital when you lock him out of your room at night, that you do not give in by letting him back in. Every time that you give him, he will just learn that if he persists long enough he gets what he wants. He is being demanding and insecure, and needs to learn how to be independent and respectful. You can help him learn by working on the crate training during the day and the respect training all the time. Those should help not only his nighttime behavior but his general behavior as well hopefully. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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